Brown Sugar Banana Bread

When I had to create a banana bread recipe for a baking magazine, I realized that banana bread is the perfect vehicle for the heat of pepper or chile. Both add excitement to the comforting loaf, which is flavorful and hearty enough to round out the heat of pepper and chile. I always seem to have a lot of overripe bananas around, so I often find myself doubling the recipe and serving one loaf right away and freezing the other loaf for another day. If you prefer, you can scoop the batter into a well-greased or paper-lined standard muffin tin to make a dozen muffins; bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Or you can make three dozen mini muffins, which only take about 18 minutes to bake.

Recipe by Lior Lev Sercarz, from “Mastering Spice” by Lior Lev Sercarz

Makes one 9×5 inch loaf

Make ahead:

The banana bread will keep, tightly wrapped with plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer in an airtight freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw before serving (I like to toast the slices too).

Ingredients

Spice Blend
1 teaspoon green cardamom pods (2 grams)
1⁄4 teaspoon Muntok white peppercorns (1 gram)
1 1⁄4 teaspoons poppy seeds (5 grams)
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably Vietnamese
(2 grams)

Finely grind the cardamom and peppercorns together and immediately mix with the whole poppy seeds and cinnamon.

Banana Bread
1⁄2 cup (8 tablespoons) salted butter (114 grams), softened, plus more for the pan
1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour (168 grams)
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking soda (7 grams)
1 cup packed light brown sugar (200 grams)
1 cup mashed overripe bananas (from 2 large or 3 medium bananas; 235 grams)
2 large eggs (100 grams), at room temperature
1⁄3 cup labne or plain whole milk Greek yogurt (80 grams)
1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (3 grams)

Directions

1. To make the bread: Preheat the oven to 350°F.Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and spice mix in a small bowl. Beat 1⁄2 cup butter (114 grams) and the brown sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed just until well combined and then raise the speed to medium-high and beat until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the bananas, eggs, labne, and vanilla. Beat on medium-low speed until thoroughly mixed. It’s okay if the mixture looks broken. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

3. With the machine running on low speed, gradually add the flour mix- ture. Beat just until the flour is incorporated, scraping the bowl as needed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.

4. Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then turn it out, discard the parchment, and cool completely on the rack.

Christian’s Version

I replaced the spice blend with the following: chop and then finely grind 1/2 of one vanilla bean, mix with 1/4 tsp ginger and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

I lined the whole pan by doing the following: Place the pan on top of a sheet of parchment paper, then using a sharp knife cut a slit to the edge from each corner of the pan, then fold this into the pan and trim off any excess. See pictures below if you’re visual. Definitely still butter both the pan and the parchment, as this will help the parchment stick to the pan, and flavor the bread. I’m going to try coating the paper with spices next time and see how that turns out as well.

Make the batter as above (omitting the vanilla extract). At the end stir in 1/2 cup of spiced chocolate chips, I used the Orchidea ones, then follow the master recipe.

This is a wonderful recipe to do with your children.

The cut:

The fold: