Friday, April 5, 2013

Chai & Rum Banana Bread . . .

It's been quite a while since I've whipped up a batch of banana bread and shared it here, so today's treat is long overdue. This quick-bread has just a little bit of bite, thanks to a few of the typical chai tea spices--cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and allspice (no pepper or cloves here, but feel free to add in a pinch or two if that's your thing)--along with a modest splash of dark rum. Why the rum? Well . . . let's just say that bananas and rum are really good pals and leave it at that. 

Simple to throw together, this bakes up in about an hour, and smells fantastic doing so. Makes a  velvety-textured breakfast bread or snack. In fact, Nathan, my sixteen-year old, informed me a few minutes ago that this stuff's great slathered with peanut butter (who knew?). So, save those brown bananas! Yes, they are good for something after all. 

About this recipe . . . 

Adapted from a recipe in the May 2012 issue of Cooking Light magazine, you can certainly glaze this bread if that's the way you're leaning. Picture a thin rum-spiked icing, drizzling down the sides of this golden loaf. Yum, right? Of course. But, honestly, the brown sugar in the batter, not to mention the over-ripe bananas themselves, make this just sweet enough without pushing it into dessert territory. Sometimes, that's all the sweetness a girl craves, and such was the occasion. 

I made a few minor alterations to the original formula, including reducing the amount of sugar by about 25 percent, and using all brown sugar versus a combo of white and brown. I also added in a tablespoon of dark rum, just to jazz things up, fiddled with the spice amounts a bit, increased the salt by a mere smidgen, and used vanilla-bean paste instead of vanilla extract. And, as always, I reworded the recipe to reflect exactly what I did.

Chai & Rum Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a standard size (9" x 5") loaf pan. 

1 and 1/2 cups soft, very ripe banana (about 3 medium-sized bananas), mashed
1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt (I used Greek style, Chobani brand.)
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed (I used light brown sugar.)
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached.)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used coarse kosher salt.)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla-bean paste (I used paste.)
1 tablespoon good-quality dark rum

In a medium mixing bowl, lightly whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.

In the large bowl of your mixer, using the paddle attachment on medium-low speed (or you can easily do this recipe all by hand, if you prefer), mix the banana, yogurt, melted butter, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and rum until very well combined, for a minute or two. 

Add the dry ingredients all at once to those in the mixer bowl and mix on the lowest speed just until combined, definitely less than one minute (over-mixing will make the bread tough). The batter will look a little lumpy. 

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smooth the top if needed, and bake for 50 minutes; check the loaf by inserting a toothpick into the center. It should come out mostly clean. If it doesn't, bake for another five to ten minutes and check again. The top should be dark golden brown when it's ready. If it looks like its browning too fast, lightly cover the top with a sheet of foil.

Let the finished loaf cool in its pan, on a rack, for about five minutes before removing it from the pan. Let it finish cooling on a rack. Store well covered. 

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