Baking a better banana bread

"The New Way to Cake" by Benjamina Ebuehi. (Courtesy Amazon/TNS)

Benjamina Ebuehi grew up in a Nigerian family in London, and her interest in cooking began when her mother bought her a child’s baking book. As she continued to learn and work her way through other cookbooks, she says it was always the chapters on cakes that interested her the most. She began to create her own cake recipes, gravitating toward “putting flavors at the forefront without overshadowing them with excessive decoration.”

Her passion for baking led to an appearance on “The Great British Bake Off” in 2016, where she created a white chocolate and salted praline cake for the show’s Cake Week.

Now she has a cookbook, “The New Way to Cake,” which features her stripped-down, flavor-forward recipes.

Ebuehi’s vegan version of banana bread includes peanut butter for what she calls a “sweet-and-salty contrast.” She says her favorite way to eat this is “lightly toasted to crisp up the edges, with a generous spread of salted butter.”

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA BREAD

I believe that a good banana bread should be part of every baker’s repertoire. This version happens to be vegan, which was by no means intentional. I do think this tastes better the next day (if it can last that long), as it gives the flavors time to mingle with each other.

Makes 6-8 servings

4 small ripe bananas, divided

3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

½ cup vegetable oil

5 tablespoons almond or soy milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2-pound loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, use a fork to mash 3 bananas. Mix in the peanut butter, oil, milk and vanilla and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined.

Slice the remaining banana in half lengthwise. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and gently place the sliced banana on top without overlapping the slices or pushing them into the batter. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until well risen and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Leave to cool completely before slicing.

Tip: For some added texture, use a crunchy peanut butter instead of smooth or fold in chopped, roasted peanuts before baking.

Reprinted with permission from “The New Way to Cake” by Benjamina Ebuehi, Page Street Publishing Co.

Tribune Wire

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