Needless to say, we always have bananas in our fruit basket. Ryan likes to eat them in his cereal, and I like to bake with them. I make about two dozen banana-blueberry muffins every few weeks, I freeze them, and then when I'm in the mood for a piece of banana heaven, I thaw out a muffin and slightly toast it, just to make sure that there's a bit of a crunch in my first bite.
But I was getting bored with the usual banana muffin recipe. As much as I love muffins or a slice of gooey quick bread, I wanted to see if I could utilize ripe bananas in a different type of bread recipe. A traditional whole wheat sandwich bread with just a hint of banana flavor was what I had in mind. I've fallen in love with yeast over the past few months, and my initial fears about baking my own bread have subsided with each subsequent and successful week of baking. I've found several whole wheat bread recipes that I love, and I felt confident that I could adapt one of my favorite loaves.
This bread is subtle. You can taste the banana in every bite, but it's not the main player, instead it's serves as an added layer of flavor and sweetness. I also added a dash of cinnamon to give the bread a warm and spicy finish. This bread is perfect for toasting and slathering with almond butter or jam. Ryan made a gooey peanut butter and jelly sandwich to take to work this morning, and when I saw it, I thought, "perfect". Tonight, I look forward to making a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich with two of these thick slices...yum!
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 tablespoons honey
¾ cup lukewarm water
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoons canola oil
2 ripe bananas, slightly mashed
1. Place your yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, add 1 pinch of sugar and cover with the water. Mix well and set aside until foamy.
Add the flour, salt, honey, cinnamon, oil and banana to your bowl and mix using the dough hook until you've made a smooth, soft dough (around 5 minutes) The dough should be barely tacky.
2. Place your dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise 1 to 1 ½ hours until almost doubled in bulk.
3. Remove dough from bowl and place it onto a lightly floured surface; knead it lightly, form into a rectangle and then fold into a roll that will fit into an 8 x 4 loaf pan. Place your dough in a lightly greased loaf pan, cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for an additional hour (or until the bread just crests over the rim of the pan)
4. Preheat you oven to 350ºF; bake your bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden. If it seems to be getting too brown toward the end of cooking, you can tent with foil.
5. Remove from oven and transfer the pan to wire rack for at least an hour to cool completely.