Lesson 12: Sourdough Banana Bread

This is my favorite quickbread recipe. It’s based on a banana bread recipe that Peter Berley included in his wonderful cookbook Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.  As I wrote in my last post, you can use sourdough to moisten almost any batter or dough and give it a slightly sour tang. If these are your only goals, there is no need for a rest before baking. If, however, you want these benefits plus the health-giving benefits of fermentation—like improved flavor and digestibility, and the potential for a lower glycemic index—you will need to mix the ingredients and then allow for a rest in the refrigerator. Remember, though, that once you make the batter and put it in the refrigerator, nearly all of your work is behind you.

Ingredients

1 cup pecans or walnuts
1-1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1-1/2 cups white bread flour
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ cup sourdough starter
2-3 very ripe bananas (10 ounces), well-mashed
1 stick or 4 ounces butter, melted and cooled somewhat
½ cup maple syrup
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla

Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a loaf pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. When the oven is preheated, place the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet or in a pan and bake: 5 minutes for pecans or 10 minutes for walnuts. Let cool, chop medium-fine, and set aside. Turn off the oven, unless you want to bake the loaf without resting it first.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, sea salt, and baking powder and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the sourdough starter, mashed bananas, butter, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and begin mixing. Then add the chopped nuts and continue mixing the batter until just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. (If you want to bake the loaf without resting it, proceed from here to step 5.) To rest the batter, cover it and put it in the refrigerator until 2 hours before baking time. An ideal rest for this loaf is about 12 hours from the time it is mixed, but shorter or longer will also work.
  5. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the banana bread for 1 hour, turning the pan after 30 minutes for more even baking.
  6. Transfer the banana bread to a rack and let it cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Note: Some say that leaveners like baking powder and baking soda can deactivate sourdough by killing the wild yeast and bacteria; the alkalinity of these leaveners is thought to neutralize sourdough’s acidic PH. I have not observed this firsthand, but it’s information you may want to keep in mind as you work with this recipe and make the process your own. If you ever find this to be an issue–that is, if you fail to get the glycemic effect you’re aiming for–simply hold off on adding any chemical leavener until just before baking. In this case, take care to mix well.

Next Up: Sourdough Biscuits

Copyright 2014, Ellen Arian, Ellen’s Food & Soul