I’ve been participating in and posting about my baking experiences with Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers for just over a year now and it has been a fantastic experience. Rose’s Bread Bible is so rich with instruction, recipes, and inspiration. My fellow bakers are a true group of bread aficionados and I learn a little something extra as I read their monthly posts. As I continue this bread making journey, I am surprised by the number of recipes in the book that I had never tried, but have become favorites as a result of this journey.
Our July selection is a good example of this. In browsing through the book over the years, I never had a serious interest in baking this one because based on the title I thought it seemed strange. The secret ingredient for this bread is a poorly kept one as it is listed in the title. Frankly, my pre-conceived notions about the results that ingredient would yield, despite what Rose says in the introduction caused me to miss out on this fantastic bread for no good reason. Perhaps I would have tried it sooner if the name had simply been “Feather Loaf.”
While this isn’t the quickest recipe to make due to the sponge and multiple rises, the results are delicious with a subtle sweetness from a combination of honey and banana. In addition to acting as a sweetener, the banana when coupled with a touch of butter keeps the bread moist. The full name for this wonderful bread is Banana Feather Loaf. I must warn you, the recipe produces a result that is nothing like the photo below. Now there is nothing wrong with a traditional banana nut bread, I do bake and enjoy them, but when thinking about this recipe you have to get this image out of your head. By the way, the texture of this bread reminded me of our June project which I’ll link to here.
Before we continue further, I wanted to share an article I found which details 16 Surprising Facts About Bananas. Here are three of the 16 facts I found particularly surprising:
- Bananas were first introduced to American consumers in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.
- Americans consume over 28 pounds of bananas each year, with over 96 percent of households purchasing bananas at least once each month.
- A small banana provides 27 mg magnesium, which may help boost mood. Men and women need 420 mg and 320 mg of magnesium per day, respectively. Low levels of this mineral are linked to depression, anxiety, irritability and other mood disorders. Since many of us don’t get enough magnesium in our diets, consider a banana as your chill pill.
Putting this bread together is a breeze if you have experience with Rose’s recipes and techniques. I had a couple of concerns which as I’ll explain were unfounded. Because I was short on time, I let my starter ripen for about four hours before mixing. Additional time would of course further develop the flavor, and there is no concern about the banana taking over since it is not added until you go to mix the dough.
Although I’m in that 96% of households that typically purchase bananas monthly, I did not have any fresh bananas on hand. I regularly visit the little area in the back of the produce department when I grocery shop to look for overly ripe bananas which have been marked down. This enables me to save a bit on the purchase (although according to the article cited above banana prices have been on a steady decline) and then I prepare them for freezing. I typically peel the banana, slice it and wrap it in wax paper before placing in a ziplock freezer bag. I normally use these frozen bananas for smoothies, but I decided to use one for this recipe. It works fine, however, when thawed, the banana will have a bit of extra moisture which I recommend pouring out before mashing. Also. the banana does brown a bit as it thaws, but the little bit of browning that occurs doesn’t seem to discolor the finished dough.
Preparing the dough was simple and straight forward, although I did feel there was a little less dough than normal for my loaf pan, and that it was a bit slow to rise. Once the dough went in the oven it was necessary to reset the timer and change the temperature several times. This bread really does brown quite a bit, and I fought the urge to tent it with foil as Rose did indicate that it browns quickly which is why the multiple temperature changes are needed. When I took it out of the oven I was a bit concerned about the color and whether it would taste burnt — the color of the crust did not seem to impact the deliciousness of this bread in the least.
If you have an overly ripe banana lying around your kitchen, this is a great recipe to use it for as the other ingredients are likely to already be in your pantry. By the way, if you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know that one of the tests that I put my loaves to is whether it makes a good sandwich. This bread was the foundation for a fantastic grilled ham and cheese sandwich and a really tasty smoked turkey sandwich. It was also nice toasted so it’s a versatile, all around winner that deserves a spot in your baking rotation.