The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The best bread I ever made!

Janknitz's picture

The best bread I ever made!

I needed a bread to bring to our friends' "Turkey Taco Night".  What kind of bread (other than tortillas!) goes with tacos,flautas, tostadas, etc.?????  Hmmmm . . . 

Inspired by this post at (a great bread blog!).  I decided to "go tropical" with Rose Levy Beranbaum's Banana Feather Bread from the Bread Bible.  I shaped it like a feather per MC's post and baked it freeform instead of in a loaf pan as suggested by RLB.  It scored easily, BTW, and I'm thrilled with how the final loaf looked, though it's not as beautifully rustic as MC's.  I baked it "en cloche" using the deep bottom of an enamel turkey roaster.  

One caveat--this bread bakes quickly because of the sugar (from the banana) and the bottom was quite brown from the hot stone on the bottom rack of the oven and relatively high temperature (475F)  It was brown already when I removed the cloche after 15 minutes and I baked it only a total of about 20--a bit too fast IMHO.  Next time I will raise the rack the stone is on and lower the temp a bit.  


Taking this to the party was a bit of a gamble--I'd never made it before and had no idea how it would taste.  When my host asked if it should be on the appetizer table or the dessert table, I wasn't even sure, though I'd brought along some lemon curd as RLB suggests.

The taste was wonderful!  When you combine this bread with lemon curd, it's heaven on a plate!  OMG it was good!!!!!!!  

This is not your mother's banana bread--I can promise you that!  It was very mildly sweet and the banana was barely detectable (some people at the party refused to believe it contained any banana).  The banana is mostly there for texture, not flavor, although RLB says that there is a little more banana flavor on the second day and when it's toasted.  This bread never made it that far as the people at the party inhaled it.  I've never seen a bread go that fast!  

It is aptly named.  The crumb was indeed moist and light as a feather.  It had a small, fine crumb, that seemed just right for the bread.  I did not get a chance to take a crumb shot, but there will be more chances as I will definitely be making this bread again and again!

The sweetness in this bread was subtle enough that I think it could be used as an everyday white bread made in a loaf pan.  I'm thinking of doing just that because I have yet to find a suitable white bread that both kids like for school lunches.  There is a very small amount of butter (4 teaspoons for the entire loaf) and no sugar added.  I might experiment with small amounts of WWW if I can keep close to the lovely the light texture.  My only question is whether or not the delicate crumb will hold up to spreading with peanutbutter.  DARN,  I guess I'll just have to make up another loaf to find out ;o)




Paddyscake's picture

That's a beautiful loaf. I would love to have a taste. I'm thinking toasted with PB!!!



Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Try microwaving the the peanut butter before spreading it on the bread.

Mustang 51's picture
Mustang 51

Try natural peanut butter. It is softer than the hydrogenated stuff and better for you.


Janknitz's picture

I've had my share of dismal failures lately, so it was especially gratifying to make such a nice bread.  I'm going to have to start freezing old bananas so there is a steady supply in the house ;o)

rossnroller's picture

Did you use a sourdough leaven, or dry/fresh yeast?

Janknitz's picture

This is made with Active Dry yeast, although MC at Farine talks about adding some of her firm starter as a "pate fermente"--old dough to condition the dough and keep it fresh longer.  I do that on my challahs, but I want to play around with this recipe more as written (and baked in a loaf pan) first. 

This bread is made with a sponge using RLB's signature flour "cloak".  You make the sponge, "cloak" it with flour, and allow it to rest on the counter for 1 hour.  At that point you can proceed or put it in the fridge for up to 24 hours.  I put it in the fridge overnight, then let it sit on the counter another hour before mixing the dough.  There is also an autolyse of 20 minutes after mixing the dough.  So while there's no sourdough in the recipe, there's plenty of time to develop the flavors. I started it the night before and It still took the better part of a day before it was ready to bake.  Definitely a weekend bread! 

The other thing I did was proof it in a very warm location.  Our house is not heated very much, so my breads have been decidedly sluggish this past month.  For this bread, I got out an old styrofoam cooler.  I boiled 2 cups of water in a microwave proof pyrex cup and placed the cup next to the dough container, under the styrofoam cooler for each proofing period except the last (RLB calls for two bulk fermentation periods before shaping the final loaf).  This was pretty warm for the bread, about 80 degrees, and I worried a bit about that, but it was fine.