Friday, July 17, 2015

Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

I'm not a big fan of bananas. I mean, it's the only fruit that isn't juicy (that I have encountered) and it has a really strong flavor. My sister, on the other hand, has always loved bananas. In fact, as a kid, when Mum would let us pick out snacks from the Korean grocery store, I would usually opt for Peppero (a.k.a. Pocky) whilst Mich went straight for the Banana Kick, which was like cheetos except instead of fake orange cheese powder, it was dusted with banana-flavored sugar.

Fast forward a decade and we're still basically on the same page. I'm still in the 'bananas are meh' camp and baby sister is still in love with bananas. However, she is somewhat picky and prefers slightly underripe bananas (ones with a green tinge) so as soon as they go slightly freckled, she's done. And that means, it's banana bread time. Even though I'm not a big banana fan, I'm definitely on board with banana bread (which isn't really bread, it's cake disguised as bread), especially when it's swirled with my favorite condiment, Nutella.

This is a spin on the banana bread recipe I've been making for years. Seriously, this recipe dates back to when I was a freshman in high school (back in the year 2000, you know, the year we feared the computers would explode). I don't know where it came from - possibly some old cookbook that's lost in the basement - but it's a good one. It's so good, it didn't really need changing but come on, it's Nutella for crying out loud.
Ingredients [yields 1 loaf]:
4 to 5 overripe bananas
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups flour
½ cup Nutella

Start with 4 or 5 really brown and spotty bananas and pop them into a bowl and mash the heck out of them. You're basically looking for about two cups of mashed fruit so make a judgment call based on how huge the 'nanas are.
Some people are into small bits of banana dotting the bread. As I mentioned above, I'm not the world's most enthusiastic banana fan so I prefer to really pulverize it.
To the mashed banana, add brown sugar, an egg, vanilla extract, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and melted butter and give it a good whisking.
Then, add baking powder, baking soda, and flour and then whisk gently, just until the batter comes together. If you've had experience baking, you know that overmixed batters tend to be really dense and clunky whereas undermixed batters are lighter and more tender. Little flour lumps are not the end of the world; leave them be and stop whisking as soon as the batter comes together.
At this point, the batter is already pretty good and can be baked as is. However, because I'm a gluttonous Nutella lover, I had to up the caloric content. If you're similarly inclined, grab a big spoonful of Nutella and drop it into the batter.
Use a spatula to gently swirl the Nutella into the batter. I spin the spatula four or five times and then walk away. The point is to have some larger bubbles of chocolatey, hazelnutty goodness.
Grease the loaf tin (I used coconut oil spray) and then pour the batter in.
Use the spatula to gently even out the top and then pop the tin into a 350F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you opt to use two mini loaf tins, I would say start checking the loaves after 30 minutes.
If you did it right (which is pretty likely, considering this is one of the easiest recipes ever), the bread should be mounded and poofed up and gorgeously golden.
After letting it cool briefly in the tin, pop the whole thing out and let the loaf cool on a cooling rack. I prefer this method of cooling because then the outside is crisp, which I love. If you leave it to cool in the tin, it steams itself and there's no real crisp crust.
If you're smart, you'll slice into the loaf while it's still a little warm. Use a serrated knife for easy slicing.
And if you're really, really smart, you'll slather on a little extra Nutella. This banana bread is light, fluffy, and perfectly sweet. I say "perfectly sweet" because it's got enough sugar to feel indulgent and serve as a dessert but it also makes an awesome breakfast when it's toasted with a pat of butter.
Here's the recipe page:

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