I’ve made strawberry banana bread before (and actually have a new modification on that I need to finish testing and post!) but this time I was looking for something that provided more of a hybrid between yummy sourdough breads, and great quick breads. So this time I went for just bananas as a source of hydration in the dough (the riper the better!), walnut butter for the richness of color and flavor it adds, and the real secret to what makes this the best banana bread I’ve ever had: caramelized banana slices. Most banana bread has good banana flavor throughout the bread, but this one has that PLUS delicious little slices of banana heaven scattered throughout the bread. I’ve made this as freestanding loaves every time, but it would probably work fairly well in loaf pans as well.
Sourdough Banana Walnut Bread with Caramelized Banana Slices
Makes: 2 medium, or 3 small loaves
Time: Day 1: Elaborate starter. Day 2: Mix final dough, fold dough shape, proof, and bake.
- Elaborate your starter however you choose, but ending up with the same flour, puree, and water weights. (or make a commercial yeast preferment) Allow it to rise overnight.
- The next day cream the starter with the puree, walnut butter, walnut (or other) oil, and water(ONLY if needed!)for the recipe.
- Mix together the flours, brown sugar and salt, then mix in the starter, puree, butter, and oil mixture til the dough just starts to come together as a ball. Let the dough sit covered in the bowl for 20 minutes
- Cut the bananas into slices 1/2 to 1/8th of an inch thick, then generously cover a plate with brown sugar and dip both sides of the banana slices in the sugar. Spray a large frying pan with a very light coating of spray oil and put it on the stove over medium heat. Cook the bananas until they are very fragrant and well browned, but not blackened. Remove the bananas from the pan to a plate to cool and pour the rest of the melted sugar from the pan over the top of them.
- Lightly dust your counter or work space with flour and scrape the dough out. With lightly floured hands, give the dough a stretch and fold and then flatten it out into a rectangle. Add the walnuts and caramelized banana slices on top of the dough, then give it a fold or two and some gentle kneading to incorporate the them. You will need need to add some additional flour to compensate for the added sugar and moisture from the bananas, but try to keep the dough fairly wet.
- Leave the bowl covered for 40 minutes to an hour, turn the dough out (seam side up) and give it another stretch and fold, then return it to the bowl. You can also give the dough one final stretch and fold after about 40 minutes.
- Let the dough rise until nearly doubled, and turn it out again onto your work surface.
- Prepare well floured brotforms, or flour a towel you can use for the final proofing of the bread. Treating the dough gently, seperate it into however many pieces you want loaves. Either shape the loaves into boules, batards, or do a letter fold and stretch them tight for brotforms. Place the shaped loaves in brotforms or on the towels (seam side up)
- Leave the loaves, covered, to proof, for me this was about an hour and a half.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with your baking stone (on the middle rack) and steam pan inside and heat 2 cups of water to just shy of boiling.
- Very gently grab loaves rising on a towel, and move them to a peel with flour, cornmeal, or parchment paper. If using brotforms, just invert the loaves onto parchment or a peel. . Load the loaves into the oven and carefully pour about a cup of the hot water into the steam pan. Be careful of the window and light bulbs in your oven. Now lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees
- Bake for 10 minutes, turn loaves 180 degrees and remove parchment paper if using. Continue baking for another 10-30 minutes (depending on shape), the loaves should sound hollow on the bottom when complete. You may actually want to underbake these some, it depends on if you want it to more resemble a regular yeasted bread or have more of the moisture of a quick bread style banana bread. Remove finished loaves to a cooling rack and let sit for at least 1 hour before cutting.
So, it has been a while since my last submission to YeastSpotting (last week was from my new joint blog covering hiking and bread with my friends)! I may spotlight that new blog if we have an especially picture filled hike, but most submissions will come from here, recipes will be posted in both locations though! This was a GREAT bread for hiking, really tasty and it had fruit and nuts in it we devoured almost a whole loaf of it. All of the pictures are from a previous revision that had nowhere near as many caramelized banana slices in it, that was a tragic error in judgment, more is definitely better in the case of the banana slices!