Monday, February 8, 2010

Pecan, Peanut Butter, Banana Bread: Nutty as a fruitcake

Dad uses this expression, "nutty as a fruitcake" a lot, and it's never made sense to me. Why would a fruitcake be nutty? Wouldn't it be fruity? Wouldn't a nut cake be nutty? Well, this Pecan, Peanut Butter, Banana Bread is a nutty fruit cake. Very nutty indeed.
My girls have a favorite after-school snack: bananas spread with peanut butter and often rolled in chocolate chips. So I figured this bread would be popular with them. In fact, I added some chocolate chips to half the batter and made muffins out of that. Very yummy. Those are already gone.
Opinions vary on the balance of the ingredients here. One family member who wants to remain anonymous said that she doesn't really like pecans or walnuts or whatever, but that they taste good with all the banana and peanut butter and chocolate. I personally feel that the pecans dominate--in a good way, since I love toasted pecans--and that the banana and peanut butter are just kind of background flavors. Which is OK, but if you want banana bread, you should try Elise's. Simple and perfect (especially if you add coconut and/or chocolate chips).

OK, a note about the ingredients. I'm starting to enjoy composing these shots. I admit to having emptied my freezer and at least half-filled a suitcase with nuts and dried fruits that are difficult to get in France. Thus the Trader Joe's pecans. Not pictured are the Louisiana pecans that I used up. They were in larger pieces and contributed more to the bread, I thought.
Check out the tiny jar of Skippy that cost 3.40 Euros ($4.66 according to my currency converter). You could probably buy the economy-sized twin pack for that much in the States. Oh, well. Also check out the nutmeg--"Muscade." You buy the whole nutmegs, and they come with this adorable tiny nutmeg grater. Very convenient.

So here are all the ingredients mixed together. I'm about to add a handful of chocolate chips for the muffins.
The batter hits the oatmeal-encrusted pan.
The oatmeal makes the bread look so healthy, don't you think?
Look at all those dominating pecans. Crunchy and delicious.

Here's the recipe, if you want to get nutty:

Pecan, Peanut Butter, Banana Bread

6 oz. pecan halves or large pieces
3 oz. (6 T.) butter, room temperature
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. vanilla (optional--I added some because I like it)
1/2 c. (4.5 oz.) smooth peanut butter
1 scant cup (6.5 oz.) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs (mine were medium, and the bread turned out fine)
2-3 bananas (8 oz. peeled), mashed with a fork to a chunky paste
1 c. (4 oz.) sifted flour
1 c. (4.5 oz.) sifted whole wheat flour
1/4-1/2 c. chocolate chips (optional)

Heat the oven to 375. Get out a loaf pan and some muffin pans--or if you happen to have two small loaf pans (maybe the disposable aluminum kind), that's what Maida calls for. Grease whatever pans you are using and sprinkle them with wheat germ or dry bread crumbs or oatmeal. Set them aside. When the oven is preheated, or just about, put the pecans on a baking sheet and toast them for about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the batter.
Cream the butter with the baking soda, salt, and nutmeg (and vanilla) until fluffy. Then add the peanut butter and beat that well. Gradually add the sugar and give that a good long beating--at least 2 minutes--and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. If you're using a hand mixer, your arm should hurt at this point. Feel the burn!
Beat the bananas into the mixture until they are nicely incorporated, and then add the flours on low speed (or by hand) just until everything is just about smooth. Then add the pecans (and optional chocolate chips) by hand. Distribute the batter among the pans you've prepared--I got 1 loaf and 4 large muffins--and put them in the oven. Set the timer for 15 minutes. When it goes off, turn the oven down to 350 and set the timer for another 10 minutes if you've got muffins; 35-40 minutes if you've got loaf pans. In other words, muffins should take a total of 20-25 minutes; the loaves will take a total of 50-55 minutes (but I would check after 45 in case your oven runs hot like mine). In any case, when a toothpick comes out clean, you know the bread is done. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold onto a folded towel in your hand (good tip, Maida!) and then onto a rack. Let cool as long as you can stand it, then enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Yum yum yum, we have all the ingredients; we just may give it a try!