31 March 2011

bananas foster bread


So, I'm sorry once again that I only have crappy food photos to show for my recipe. I'm going to write about why that is, just in case you happened to wonder.

During the second week of my study abroad program in England a few years ago, my digital camera broke. Unable to give up photography completely, I spent the rest of the summer snapping Boots brand disposable camera pictures all over the place. And occasionally my Holga. The pictures were fewer, less clear, less likely to come out -- but they had a lovely aesthetic all their own, so I wasn't terribly miffed.

The next year, I was gifted digital camera no. 2 for the holidays!

....but by the following summer, it too was dead.

I was ready to give up hope on all digital cameras. Or at least point-and-shoots. I continued with the disposables all summer and fall, but when I started trying to take pictures of foodstuffs, I realized this wasn't going to work out.

But for my birthday this year, I received an incredible surprise from someone who has secretly been saving for months to help make my photography dreams come true.

I am an insanely lucky girl, I know that much.

Using this camera practically brings tears to my eyes. It's such an intuitive and pretty little thing, and it's perfect for yours truly, since I'm not quite ready for an SLR. I'm so excited that I can begin documenting cool things more often and with less personal cost (sorry CVS, your one-hour-photo counter has seen the last of me!). Hopefully my recipes will also become more visually palatable (if that phrase even makes sense).

But for now, despite the dark pictures, here is my recipe for bananas foster bread. I've placed it behind the jump to spare any non-foodies who tagged along thus far. Thanks for letting me rant and rave about camera nonsense!

One of my favorite things to bake is banana bread, and a couple of years ago I found my holy grail recipe: a bread that is moist yet fluffy (as compared to denser, hard-to-swallow varieties).

As I mentioned in this post, around Mardi Gras it dawned on me:  what could be more perfect than combining two of my favorite flavors into bananas foster bread?

Ideally I wanted rich, gooey bananas foster flavor permeating every slice. I wanted the taste prominent inside the bread -- so I decided to create a thick ribbon of bananas foster swirl throughout the loaf. I wanted rich flavor dripping from the outside, too -- so I created a delectable icing glaze from the leftover bananas foster sauce.

Look, the cinnamon swirl is smiling!

It turned out great, if I may say so myself! Yes, it was indeed denser than my usual banana bread -- I think all the rich syrups and sugars and cooked bananas change the texture inevitably.  But it was still super moist, and delightfully sweet from the glaze. It also froze well.

Bananas Foster Bread

(Makes one 9 1/2 in. by 5 1/2 in. by 3 3/4 in. loaf.)

For the bread:  (recipe adapted from here)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 large, ripe banana, mashed
Bananas foster (see below)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
Cinnamon swirl mixture (see below)

For the bananas foster:  (recipe adapted from here)
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 ripe but still firm bananas, sliced
1/4 cup dark rum  (I used bourbon)
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cinnamon swirl:
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp bananas foster sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour loaf pan. In a bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Set aside.

Prepare the bananas foster. Melt butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved (about 4 to 5 minutes). Add the banana slices and cook, turning once, 1 to 2 minutes per side. In a small cup, stir together the rum and vanilla. Turn off the burner, then add the rum mixture to the banana mixture. Stir well.  (I did not flambé my bananas, as I was lacking both long matches and gumption, but if you would like to try, see the original recipe here to find out how.)

Strain the bananas from the sauce; set sauce aside. Mash the fostered bananas and add to dry ingredient mixture. Add the eggs and one mashed raw banana. Slowly add in the melted butter and mix all ingredients just until incorporated. Do not overmix! Pour half of the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Prepare the cinnamon swirl filling by mixing together sugar, cinnamon, and bananas foster sauce. Crumble mixture over entire surface of loaf batter. Add rest of batter, and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Do not overbake! Cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Ice with glaze if desired.

For the bananas foster glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup bananas foster sauce
1/8 cup milk

Whisk together the sugar, sauce and milk. Add more sugar  or sauce if necessary until desired consistency is reached. Pour over loaf, let set, and enjoy!

FYI:  If you have leftover sauce, it tastes amazing warmed and poured over vanilla ice cream.

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