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March 8, 2011

Banana Yeast Bread with Cinnamon Swirl

Chef's Notes: Rotten bananas multiply in my house. It's like some weird algebraic formula regarding produce. I always toss the ugly little guys in the freezer with plans to use them for something. One day, randomly, I wondered if you could use the "bananas noir" for a yeast bread instead of the traditional quick bread. 

Google answered yes. 

Most of the recipes I found required a bread machine (which I don't have), but I found a few that were made the old-fashioned way. And then I wondered if, instead of putting cinnamon into the dough, you could make it like cinnamon bread with a cinnamon-sugar swirl? 

And, thus, Banana Yeast Bread with Cinnamon Swirl (in all its wonderful cinnamon banana-y yumminess) was born. 

Banana Yeast Bread with Cinnamon Swirl
Yields: 2 loaves

5-6 C. flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 pkg. dry yeast
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs, room temperature
2 or 3 very ripe bananas, mashed to yield 1 cup

In a large bowl, mix together 1-1/4 cups flour with sugar, salt and yeast. Heat the evaporated milk, water and butter to 120 degrees. Add to dry ingredients; beat for 2 minutes at medium speed of mixer. Add in eggs, banana and 1 cup of flour; beat at high speed for 2 minutes. By hand, stir in enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Knead for 8-10 minutes, adding additional flour as needed. (Note: The dough is a little sticky to work with. Be careful not to add too much extra flour or the bread will be tough.)

Place dough in large bowl that is coated with cooking oil. Turn dough so that all sides are oiled. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

For bread to rise, it needs three things - warmth, moisture, and no drafts. To create this environment, heat your oven to no more than 110 degrees. (Preheat at lowest temperature and then allow to cool down slightly). Remember: if it's too hot, it will kill the yeast and the dough won't rise.  When the oven is the correct temperature, place a bowl of water on the bottom rack and the bowl of dough on the upper rack. Cover the dough with a linen towel.

When the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into two equal portions. Use a rolling pin to roll each portion of dough into a 14X9-inch rectangle. Spread about 1 tablespoon melted butter onto each rectangle. In a small bowl, mix together 3/4 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon; sprinkle this mixture evenly over each rectangle.

Beginning at the 9-inch end of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough and shape into loaves. Place in two greased 9X5X3-inch loaf plans. Let rise a second time, until doubled, about 1 hour.

Remove the loaves (and the bowl of water if you used if for the rising process) from the oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake loaves for 45 minutes or until golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. (Check after 30 minutes. If they are browning too quickly, cover with a foil tent.)

Remove the loaves from the pans and cool on a wire rack.

I think this would be delicious toasted and spread with Ginger Butter. I didn't try it this way though.

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