Thursday, July 21, 2011

Strawberry Banana Bread

I am super excited about this banana bread. Like super, super excited. Not only is it amazing banana bread, but you can actually taste the strawberries in it. I tend to find that "strawberry" baked goods either have a strongly artificial flavor (which I honestly don't mind sometimes, but it's not my fave) or don't have any strawberry flavor, regardless of whether you crush/macerate/purée/boil them down ahead of time. And I don't usually choose anything strawberry banana if I have a choice (strawberry banana yogurt? no thanks! the banana ruins it!). But this bread, this I choose.

In this bread, you simply add fresh diced strawberries to the batter, and you can taste them in the finished product. Voilà! Of course, your strawberry flavor will be as good as the flavor in your strawberries. The teeny berries I've got here in Berlin, which go bad quickly and don't even look that good in the store, actually have great flavor. They're tarter than the ones I buy in California, but they complement the sweetness of this bread so well. It makes me remember that buying cheap berries in Cali means that they often taste like water, and not much like strawberries (sorry Trader Joe's, on this one account you disappoint). So buy good, strongly flavored berries, and heck, buy a lot of them just to eat them - then if some start to get mushy, bruised, or moldy, you can cut off the bad parts and use the good parts to make this bread.

It helps that there are spices and Amaretto here to greatly adorn the strawberries and bananas, plus a topping of crusted sugar to keep it all happy. I love that I based this recipe on one called "jacked-up banana bread" on smittenkitchen's blog, and I jacked it up some more - replaced some of the bananas with strawberries, swapped the bourbon out for Amaretto, added more butter (accidentally doubled it the first time! darn european conversions), and slapped the sugar crust on top for good measure.

Only make this if you're ready to make your kitchen smell heavenly!

Strawberry Banana Bread

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, place:

2 ripe bananas, smashed
1 C (approx.) diced strawberries

Stir in:
1/2 C (1 stick, ~100 g) salted butter, melted

Then add:
1 C (170 g) brown or raw sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 T Amaretto (or whatever you've got in the cabinet, except vodka, 'cause it's got no flavor)

And then:
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch ground cloves

Sprinkle over mixture and stir in:
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt

Then mix in until just combined:
1 1/2 C (180 g) flour

Pour into loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove from oven. Generously sprinkle raw or white sugar over the top of the loaf, then wet the sugar down with Amaretto (as with this pine nut cake). Place back in the oven for another 5 minutes, or until a utensil comes out clean. Let cool in pan before serving.

Makes one loaf, and very few dirty dishes.

Yeah, I had to make two after I got a little too experimental the first time around; the cake was great, but I wanted to try to make frosting with quark, which rendered the bread soggy enough to be bread pudding. Which my British roommate liked, so she gets to finish it. For the rest of us, there is this new and improved crusty version.

P.S. It would be great without the sugar crust too, just eliminate that step and bake until a utensil comes out clean. If you like things a little less sweet, you can reduce the sugar in the bread to 3/4 of a cup also.

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