Monday, January 26, 2015

Grilled Banana Bread with Tahini and Honeycomb from "Plenty More"

I'll admit that I probably did not do this recipe justice. That's doesn't mean it wasn't delicious. It simply means that I was in a hurry and distracted while putting it together. Thus, I had no preparation photos and made a few shortcut substitutions that may have impacted the original creation thought up by Ottolonghi.

I had planned on having a banana bread handy for our weekend guests. I was going to make this *carefully* on Thursday night - well in advance of their Friday evening arrival. However, I was called out of town last minute and my plans were put to a halt. When I arrived back in town on Friday evening, our lovely guests were already here and the bananas were still sitting out, waiting to be made into bread. I dropped my bags and got right into the kitchen to get the bread done before our dinner reservations. The quick timeline led to a few shortcuts but really, it turned out quite well.

Was this the best banana bread I've ever had? No. Can I attribute that to the recipe? Not exactly. 

I found that it wasn't quite banana-y enough but I also don't think my bananas were quite ripe enough despite sitting out for 5 days. I also used gluten-free flour and coconut sugar instead of brown sugar. Any or all of these modifications could have dampened the recipe's potential. Still, it was quite good and with the tahini honey butter, it was delightful!

Grilled Banana Bread with Tahini and Honeycomb from Plenty More
makes 1 large loaf

  • scant 2 cups/180 g pecans
  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed (1 1/3 cups/300 g)
  • 1 1/4 cups/275 g packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp/140 ml whole milk
  • scant 5 tbsp/70 ml sunflower oil
  • 2 cups plus 3 1/2 tbsp/275 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • salt
to finish
  • 5 1/2 tbsp/80 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup/ 60 g tahini paste
  • 7 oz/200 g honeycomb in honey
  • 3/4 tsp coarse sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F/170 C. Line a 9 by 5-inch/23 by 12-cm loaf pan with waxed paper.
  2. Start with the banana bread. Place the pecans on a baking sheets and toast for 10 minutes, then chop coarsely and set aside.
  3. Place the bananas, sugar, and eggs in a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until combined. On low speed, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the milk, and then the oil. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and, with the mixer still running, add this to the banana mixture. Continue to mix on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until thoroughly combined. Stir in the pecans and then pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  4. Place in the oven and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until a skewer or knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and set aside on a cooling rack until completely cool. You can now wrap the bread in aluminum foil and keep it for up to 5 days, or freeze it for a few weeks.
  5. Preheat the broiler. Cut the banana bread into slices 3/4-inch/2-cm thick and brush with butter. Place under the broiler for up to 2 minutes, until lightly toasted on one side, and remove. Lean one against the other on each plate. Drizzle with the tahini, place a chunk of honeycomb on each slice, and sprinkle with the sea salt. Serve at once.

  • Coconut Sugar for Light Brown Sugar. I only had dark brown sugar which I was planning on using but after realizing it was as hard as a rock, I substituted the light brown sugar with coconut sugar. 
  • Gluten-Free Flour for All-Purpose Flour. I used gluten-free all purpose flour (Bob's Red Mill) instead of regular all-purpose flour. This may have slightly altered the texture but everything puffed up just fine. I'm curious how almond flour would work with this recipe.
  • Vanilla Extract. I added about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla - simply because.
  • Added 10 minutes of Cooking Time. After 1 hour and 10 minutes, the bread still wasn't done. I think the bread could have used even more than the additional 10 minutes but I was in a time crunch. It wasn't gooey but the top was clearly a bit softer.
  • Unfiltered Honey for Honeycomb. I could not find a honeycomb in the store so I bought an unfiltered honey instead.
  • Pre-Mixed Topping. For the topping, I simply mixed the butter (softened), tahini, honey and sea salt and put the spread in a jar so our guests could help themselves in the morning. The mixture was quite delicious - the tahini really adds a unique flavor to the spread and meshes well with the banana bread.
  • Toasted instead of Broiled. Because I was not formally presenting this dish and wanted to make it simple for guests to dig into, I recommended toasting the sliced banana bread instead of putting it under the broiler. Simply toast the bread and then spread it with the tahini/honey butter spread. Delicious.

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