I’ve never used rum in any pastry before. It’s not because we don’t like alcoholic beverages in the house or anything like that. I admit that I don’t drink, but we do use wine in cooking often enough. All this time, I’ve either been too lazy to go out of my way just to buy rum, or I forget about it whenever I am in the Supermarket. I’ve got a bunch of lame excuses, I know. But in my defense, I had no idea what I was missing out on.
Apparently rum is a magical ingredient in baking.
After making this, I went over all my cookbooks just to track down all the recipes I ignored because they had the word ‘rum’ in them. Then I proceeded to mark all the interesting recipes now that I know better. Rum-Vanilla Cakes sound divine for holiday baking, but I thought I should write about the Rum-Banana Bread first as it has a special spot in my heart for being the recipe that helped me discover this intoxicating little ingredient.
I’m glad Banana Breads are an all-year-round kind of bread. I like it a lot, but I constantly try to look for some modification or play on it that makes it a little more unusual. Rum-Banana Bread isn’t unusual at all, except I came across one in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook that is marbled with some chocolate as well. That’s like hitting two birds with one stone, because for one thing, I haven’t tried marbling anything and was excited to give it a go. Yet the chocolate marble isn’t even what made this bread extra special– it was the slight yet unmistakably lovely hint of rum and lemon that permeates both the sense of smell and taste.
I can’t even begin to describe the amazing scent of the mashed bananas as the lemon zest and rum were mixed into it. It’s something you would have to discover for yourself when you try this. As a huge lemon lover, my taste buds immediately zoned in on the glorious lemon scent and flavour, but the rum was definitely there as well. The chocolate adds just a touch of extra flavour, and the banana a lovely sweetness to the moist bread.
For best marbling effect, I would suggest adding the batter in alternating blocks of white and dark before marbling. Keep in mind that restraint is important when marbling. If you swirl your batter too much, you will end up mixing the light batter into the dark one and the marble effect will be lost completely. I didn’t include a process-picture of my less-than-stellar marbling but I’ll be sure to next time once I execute a successful one. My loaf pan is a bit too wide at 9-point-something inches and it made my marbled loaf end up looking rather flat. Despite this, I can assure you the bread has no shortage in bright flavour.
Black and White Banana Loaf
from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours, page 232 | Makes one 8.5 x 4.5-inch loaf
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1½ ripe bananas, peeled
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of ½ a lemon
1 tablespoon dark rum
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 stick + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup whole milk
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Butter and 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ inch loaf pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of the other.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
3. In a small bowl, mash the bananas with the lemon juice and zest, then stir in the rum.
4. Melt the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the butter together in a microwave oven or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water.
5. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining stick (8 tablespoons) of butter at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes, until light and smooth.
6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. The batter will look curdled, and it will continue to look curdled as you add ingredients. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the flour mixture, mixing only until it is just incorporated.
7. With the mixer running, pour in the milk, and when it is blended, add the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl and mix in the mashed bananas. The batter will look even lumpier.
8. Pour a little less than half the batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate and stir to blend. Drop alternating spoonfuls of both batters into the prepared pan, then, using a table knife, swirl the batters together, taking care not to overdo it.*
9. Bake for 1 hour and 20 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check after 30 minutes and if the cake starts to brown too much, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 15 minutes before unmolding or it might break, then cool the cake to room temperature right side up on the rack.
Storage: Wrapped in plastic wrap, the cake will keep for 4 to 5 days at room temperature; wrapped airtight, it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer.
* Keep in mind that restraint is important when marbling. If you swirl your batter too much, you will end up mixing the light batter into the dark one and the marble effect will be lost completely.
I really need to work on my marbling. T_T