For the first time in years, it looks like we’re going to have overnight guests for Thanksgiving.

Which means I’ll have to feed people breakfast.

This bread will be on the menu: A cinnamon- and clove-spiked banana bread that weighs in at about 5 pounds.

I usually yawn at banana bread (and its second cousins, banana muffins). Both are good ways to use up over-ripe bananas, but they can taste more like flour than fruit.

This bread breaks that mold. Two full cups of the darkest, ripest bananas are mixed with butter, sour milk and hefty spoonfuls of autumn spices. The bread bakes up dark and dense (I’m not lying about the weight!); it tastes of bananas and caramel and sports an almost fermented tang.

Just what I want to wake up my sleepy Thanksgiving guests.

Not-The-Usual Banana Bread

This recipe is adapted from Gabrielle Hamilton’s “Prune” cookbook. She calls for buttermilk, a whole pound of butter and 1 cup of crushed walnuts. I used sour milk, just two sticks of butter and no nuts. The loaf was still outstanding.

  • 3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of very ripe, well-mashed bananas
  • 1 cup sour milk (1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar and enough milk to measure 1 cup)
  • 1 cup walnuts, crushed (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Be sure your parchment paper extends at least an inch above your pan. And don't worry ... it won't burn in your oven.
Be sure your parchment paper extends at least an inch above your pan. And don’t worry … it won’t burn in your oven.

Grease a 13- X 4 1/2- X 4-inch loaf pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper that will line the bottom and the two long sides of the pan, leaving about an inch of overhang. Place it in the loaf pan and grease it, too.

Sift together the four, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.

Cut the butter into chunks and place them in the bowl of stand mixer. Using a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for a minute.

Slowly add the sugar, beating until it’s fully incorporated into the butter.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about a minute after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often.

Spoon a third of the dry ingredients into the batter. Mix on low just until incorporated.

Add a third of the bananas and mix on low until incorporated.

Add a third of the sour milk and mix until incorporated.

Repeat two more times with the dry ingredients, bananas and sour milk.

Add the nuts, if using, and mix on low just ’til incorporated.

Your bread will be beautifully bronzed after an hour, but it isn't done! Bake it for the required amount of time, and don't worry that it gets ultra-dark.
Your bread will be beautifully bronzed after an hour, but it isn’t done! Bake it for the required amount of time, and don’t worry that it gets ultra-dark.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Place the loaf pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for an hour. Cover with foil, then bake an additional 15-25 minutes, or until the loaf feels springy and a tester inserted into it comes out clean.

Cool the loaf for an hour. Gently pulling on the parchment overhang, remove the bread from its pan. Continue cooling until it reaches room temperature, then wrap it up tightly.

Advertisements