Sunday, January 10, 2010

Banana Apple Bread

Banana Apple Bread - January 10, 2010

I should probably stop pretending that I'm on baking hiatus in January since this is the second time I've broken it. But I had a good excuse - I mean reason - this time. Every Sunday I go to church and meet my parents for lunch and I usually bring them something I've baked. Last Sunday, being dutifully on baking hiatus, I hadn't brought anything so I was caught off guard when my dad said, "no cookies?" Now, he was fine that I hadn't made anything, especially since they still had some of the orange pound cake I'd made them for New Year's. But I don't like not having something if he expected something. I wasn't going to get caught flat-footed again.

Baking for my parents can be a tricky proposition. They don't like anything too sweet (that lets out caramel-related baked goods as well as a major portion of what I make) and they're not especially fond of chocolate baked goods (they'll enjoy a box of Godiva chocolates but chocolate chip cookies or brownies? Not so much). So I normally go for something like lemon bars, orange cake, banana bread, snickerdoodles and/or white chocolate macadamia coconut cookies. This time around, I decided to try this recipe for Banana Apple Bread from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy. I'd made a few recipes from her book already and they had all turned out pretty well. This recipe was no exception.

It takes a little more prep than the average banana bread recipe since you had to chop up the apples and caramelize them, squeeze the orange juice and mash the bananas. But even that wasn't too hard or time consuming. I managed to get this made up before church this morning and had it baking while I worked out. I made them into 4 mini loaves instead of 1 big loaf so they baked in about 40 minutes (my workout was 36 minutes long so that worked out well). Normally I'm not a big fan of mixing fruit flavors but I actually liked the chunks of apples in the banana bread. The texture was soft and moist and it's something a little different from the norm.

Mom's Banana Apple Bread from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy

For the apples
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½” pieces
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Banana Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoon (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups very ripe mashed bananas (2 to 3)

1. Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly butter and flour a 1 ½-quart loaf pan.
2. To make the apples: Preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and brown sugar and heat until bubbling. Add the apples and cinnamon and sauté until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
3. To make the banana bread: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. In a small bowl, combine the orange juice and vanilla.
6. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the orange juice mixture, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each flour addition. Stir in the mashed bananas until combined. Then stir in the reserved apples.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool further.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The banana bread keeps well wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Defrost still wrapped at room temperate.

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