Friday, October 19, 2012

No-Knead Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Makes two 8½ x 4½-inch loaves
This recipe can be halved or doubled!!
Recipe from the cookbook Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day written by Jeff Herzberg and Zoe Francois
Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen

The length of the directions may look daunting, but this is such an easy bread to make that you could have the kids help. As the title promises, there is no kneading.  This is yeast bread rather than the usual quick bread. This recipe mostly whole-wheat flour and is sweetened not with sugar, but with honey and lots of over ripe bananas. (All of the ingredients can be found at Lost River Market & Deli, our community-owned grocery store.) It is moist like traditional banana bread and the raw sugar on top of the loaf provides a crispy crunch.  It is not sweet like banana quick bread, so be warned.  It just has a subtly sweet, banana flavor.  It tastes best after toasting.  It’s perfect with a slather of peanut butter.  This bread along with peanut butter would make a great lunch sandwich for the kids’ EasyLunchbox, especially for Meatless Monday!

4 cups white whole-wheat flour

2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1½ Tablespoons granulated yeast, or 2 packets

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

¼ cup vital wheat gluten

1½ cups lukewarm water

½ cup neutral-flavored oil

½ cup honey

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups very ripe banana puree

2 cups walnut pieces

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) for brushing on top crust

Raw sugar for sprinkling on the top of the loaf

Make the Dough:
1. Whisk together the flours, cinnamon, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
2. Combine the liquid ingredients with the banana and walnuts and mix with the dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). You might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you’re not using a machine.
3. Cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
4. The dough can be used immediately after its initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight container) and use over the next 7 days.

Shape the Bread:
5. Lightly grease an 8½ x 4½-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (cantaloupe-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
6. Elongate the ball into an oval and place the loaf into the loaf pan; your goal is to fill the pan about three-quarters full. Allow the loaf to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 1 hour 45 minutes (60 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

Bake the Bread:
7. Preheat the oven to 350* F for at least 5 minutes.
8. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top crust with egg wash, and then sprinkle it with raw sugar. Place the pan on the stone or on a rack in the center of the oven. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, until richly browned and firm.
9. Remove the bread from the pan and allow it to cool on a rack before slicing and eating.

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