Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Super Bowl Celebration: Banana Fosters Banana Bread

I know it's been a few days since the Super Bowl, but I wanted to share this awesome bread/cake that I brought to the New Orleans Super Bowl potluck we had at work. Turns out we chose the right team to celebrate (Go Saints?). As soon as we decided on bringing New Orleans style food, I decided I wanted to bring dessert since everyone else was going with red beans and rice and andouille sausage (both were amazing, by the way). After a little research, I learned that Banana Fosters (rum soaked bananas that are set on fire) originated in New Orleans. A quick search of the blogosphere brought me to Brown Eyed Baker's post on her reinvention of a family banana bread recipe.

Banana Fosters Banana Bread
Yield: 1 loaf

For the Bread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 medium bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk

For the Streusel Topping:
1½ cups chopped walnuts
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter

For the Rum Glaze:
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter
2 tablespoons water
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup rum

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

2. Combine ingredients for streusel topping in a medium bowl and combine with fingers to create a crumbly topping with the butter evenly distributed. Set aside.

3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl to combine. Set aside.

4. On medium speed, beat the sugar and vegetable oil to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each until combined. Add the mashed bananas and vanilla extract; beat to combine. Alternatively add the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat just until the flour is incorporated and finish mixing with a spatula.

5. Spread batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the batter. Bake until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out almost clean, about 60 minutes.

6. To make the rum glaze, combine the butter, water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum. Set aside and cover to keep warm.

7. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then, using a skewer poke holes all over the top of the loaf. Spoon about ¼ cup of the rum glaze all over the loaf. Let the cake sit for about 5 minutes and then spoon the remaining glaze over it, a little at a time, until it is all absorbed into the bread.

And here are some photos of the process:

The best way to incorporate the butter into the other ingredients in the crumble on top is to use your hands to combine. Your body heat warms the butter just enough for the flour/sugar/nut mixture to seep in.

Here's the deal with this batter: It puffs up a bit. Keep this in mind. During my test of this recipe I just filled the pan all the way with the batter and the crumble was almost overflowing. And then, as it baked, it did overflow. It created a lot of messiness that I could have easily avoided.

For my rum I chose Captain Morgan's gold label. There were two reasons for this. 1) I decided a dark spiced rum would pair really well with Cinnamon banana bread. 2) I really wanted "Captain's cream soda," which is basically Captains and ginger ale. When combined correctly, this concoction takes on the flavors of cream soda. So good. Pick whatever rum seems right to you.

Because I chose a dark rum, it darkened the bread. That's not burnt parts, that's just shaded with the amazing rum/brown sugar/butter mixture that I poured over top.

Lessons from this recipe:
*Use your hands. Nothing beats your hands when mixing butter with flour. I tried for about 5 minutes mixing the streusel together with a spoon. Don't waste your time. It will never come together without your heat.
*Alcohol in recipes is best picked based on flavor not on price. Okay, this wasn't new to me, but I can't stress this lesson enough. When you cook with liquor or wine or beer, the cooking process intensifies the basic flavors of that liquid. So if it tastes nasty plain, it's not going to taste any better cooked and poured over banana bread.
*Know your oven. The oven temperature and baking time in this and all recipes is a guideline. I hadn't really baked with this oven before, so when I tested my recipe, the beautiful bread burned all over the place. No amount of sugary rum can make that taste better. I've since learned that my oven is about 25 degrees hotter than most people.

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