Monday, 11 March 2013

Battle of the Banana Breads: Caker vs. Hoity Toity

Caker on the left, hoity toity on the right.
I recently came across two recipes for chocolate marble banana bread. One was a caker recipe from Kraft and used Miracle Whip. The other was a hoity toity recipe with more words than the latest issue of Reader's Digest. I made both and hosted a blind taste test among some co-workers to see which loaf would reign supreme. 

I’m happy (but not surprised) to report that the caker version was the hands-down winner, getting ten votes compared to the hoity toity loaf’s two votes. People found the caker banana bread moister with more flavour. (Uh, it has Miracle Whip. Hel-lo!?) A few Grey Poupon types preferred the gourmet one, claiming the “crumb” was better. (I don’t even know what that means.)

Suffice to say, the folks at Kraft will be over the moon when they catch wind of this. The Thurston Howells of the world? Not so much.

A word of warning to my fellow cakers: Do NOT attempt the hoity toity recipe. It took 40 minutes to make (as opposed to 20 minutes for the caker version), I had to use more than one bowl and there are words I didn't understand, like “fine-mesh strainer” and “Dutch process” and “food processor.” By the time I finished, I had a real bad headache and lost a chunk of my life I'll never get back. Just do yourself a favour and stick to the caker version. 

Winner: Chocolate-Marbled Banana Bread (caker)
1 egg
½ cup Miracle Whip Original Spread
1 1/3 cups mashed fully ripe bananas (about 3)
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted

Heat oven to 350˚. Beat egg, Miracle Whip and bananas in large bowl with whisk until blended. Mix all remaining ingredients except chocolate in medium bowl, Add to banana mixture; stir until just moistened. Pour half the batter into medium bowl; stir in chocolate. Spoon batters alternately into 8x4-inch loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray; swirl gently with knife. Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 5 min. or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool bread in pan 10 min.; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely.

Source: What's Cooking, Kraft

Thanks for passing it along, Morag!










Chocolate-Banana Marble Bread (hoity toity)
2 large or 3 medium very ripe bananas, at room temperature
¼ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup unsifted unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 tablespoons boiling water, plus more if needed
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened (65˚ to 68˚F)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350˚ and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat a (9x5) loaf pan with melted butter or high-heat canola-oil spray and line it with a piece of parchment paper that extends 1 inch beyond the long edge of both sides of the pan. Peel the bananas and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Process to a smooth puree. (Alternately, mash them in a bowl using a fork.) Measure out 1 cup of the puree and transfer to a medium bowl, discarding the rest of the puree or saving it for another use. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and whisk until just blended. Set aside.

Use a fine-mesh strainer to sift the cake flour, baking soda and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Whisk to blend well. Set aside. Place the cocoa powder in a small bowl. Pour the boiling water over the cocoa and stir until it forms a smooth paste—it should run thickly off the spoon. If it is too thick, add another tablespoon of boiling water and stir again. Set aside.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until the butter is very light, almost white in colour, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add the eggs, 1 tablespoon at a time, completely blending in each addition before adding the next. About halfway through the eggs, turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with the spatula, then continue adding the rest of the eggs. Scrape down the bowl again.

With the mixer running on the lowest speed, add one-third of the flour mixture. Just as it is barely blended and you can still see a few patches of flour, add half the banana mixture. Repeat with the remaining flour and banana mixtures ending with the flour. Scrape down the bowl and finish blending the batter by hand.

[Editor's note: You still with me or have you dozed off by this point?]

Transfer half of the batter to the second medium bowl. Add the cocoa paste and, using a rubber spatula, gently but thoroughly blend it into the batter.

Drop alternating spoonfuls of dark and light batters into the prepared pan, then marbleize by using a spoon to gently turn the batter over in 3 places down the length of the pan.

Bake the banana bread for 55 to 65 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. When cool, remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and cut slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife.

Source: The Art and Soul of Baking

18 comments:

  1. Wowsers. I'll admit that the hoity-toity loaf looks a little better, but that recipe! Frankly, I'd be a little insulted by any recipe that tells me to "cut slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife", because I think I'm capable of cutting banana bread without specific instructions, thankyouverymuch.
    Kudos to you for going to the trouble to make both--I certainly wouldn't have!

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    Replies
    1. I was planning to cut the loaf with a chainsaw before they mentioned the serrated knife thing. Who knew?

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  2. Oh, and P.S. the Captcha word I had to type in to post my comment was "asswebs"
    I'm laughing. Because I'm nine.

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    Replies
    1. Sigh. I never get a good Captcha word.

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    2. Ha ha ha ha ha. Asswebs.
      Also, Brian, nice loaf.

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    3. No one's ever said that to me before. I'm a little teary-eyed right now.

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  3. That mustard commercial made me snort tea down my nose - clearly I am nowhere near refined enough for Grey Poupon

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    1. If you're that rich, couldn't you buy your own Grey Poupon? Why do you have to borrow from the other rich people? It's kind of tacky, if you ask me.

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  4. I used to work on the What's Cooking magazine, doing print production.
    The more I read your blog, the more in tune I become with my caker roots.

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    Replies
    1. I'd LOVE to work at What's Cooking magazine. Seriously. I'd be the best recipe tester ever.

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  5. Did that posh French dude have radishes in his mashed potatoes? Now THAT is posh.

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    1. I wish I was rich enough to afford radishes in my mashed potatoes. On second thought, I wish I was rich enough to afford mashed potatoes.

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  6. Congratulations on your papacy win! Who knew a caker could win such a title!? I made spelt walnut date banana bread last night. You would hate it, as it actually does require a chainsaw to cut through it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I always knew I'd find a use for that tall white hat one day! Needless to say, Mother is quite proud of me. For once.
      What is this "spelt" you speak of? Is it like Miracle Whip?

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  7. Recipes that long scare me. Honestly.

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  8. By the time I finished reading it, I wasn't hungry any more.

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  9. Lies! Lies I tell you!!
    You do too know what "crumb" is!!

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    Replies
    1. Where I come from, "crumb" is what's left in your lap after you're finishing eating.

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