Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Alton Brown's Banana Bread using the Muffin Method

Welcome to my first round with Alton Brown: I'm just here for MORE FOOD This is AB's book on baking. In this volume he describes baking as having six main construction methods. These methods are:
  • The Muffin Method
  • The Biscuit Method
  • The Creaming Method
  • The Straight Dough Method
  • The Egg Foam Method
  • The Custards

Today we will be exploring the MUFFIN method. The MUFFIN method basically breaks down like this - mix all the wet ingredients (eggs, water, butter, milk, etc.) and separately mix all the dry ingredients (flour, leavening agents, salt, etc.). After the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients are mixed in their own bowls THEN you mix them together. AB cautions us repeatedly not to over mix. AB makes this distinction by showing you that a good muffin is light and airy and a dense muffin is a cake. You don't want a cake here you want a muffin.

The muffin method is also used for several other quick breads and of course muffins. What AB wants to get across to us is that the name does not necessarily denote the product so much as the process.

So back to our banana bread. I personally prefer a banana nut muffin over a slice of banana nut bread. Call it a personal preference of delivery structures but I like just being able to pop into the kitchen and grab a muffin and run!

Before we jump into the recipe I also want to add that AB likes to distinguish the ingredients as: WET WORKS and DRY WORKS. If more than one exists than they get numbered: WET WORKS 1, WET WORKS 2... So the recipe will say 'Combine Wet Works 1 with Wet Works 2, then combine Wet Works with Dry works' - get it? Very simple. So here we go:

BANANA BREAD - ALTON BROWN STYLE:

WET WORKS 1

Ingredient Weight Volume Count Prep
Overripe bananas 340 g
3 - 4
Sugar 210 g 1 cup

DRY GOODS

Ingredient Weight Volume Count Prep
AP Flour 220 g 1 2/3 cup

Oat Flour 35 g 1/3 cup

Baking Soda 6 g 1 tsp

Salt 6 g 1 tsp

WET WORKS 2

Ingredient Weight Volume Count Prep
Unsalted Butter 113 g 8 tbs 1 stick melted and cooled
Eggs 100 g
2 large
Almond Extract 6 g 1 tsp

THE OPTIONS

Ingredient Weight Volume Count Prep
Nuts (walnuts,pecans, or almonds)
1 cup
chopped

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Grease a loaf pan and line with wax paper
  • Combine the bananas and sugar and mix with a potato masher until smooth
  • Combine the WET WORKS 1 and the WET WORKS 2 in separate bowls, then combine them together.
  • Combine the DRY GOODS with the WET WORKS
  • If using THE OPTIONS then fold them into the batter now
  • Pour batter into the pan
  • Bake for 50 minutes - 1 hour or until center registers 210F and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool on stove top for 15 minutes then remove from pan and transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.
  • Tightly wrapped the bread will keep at room temp for about 5 days.

MUFFIN VARIATION

Prepare a standard 12 hole muffin pan use a scooper to fill the holes. Bake for 30 minutes (210F inside) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove immediately to a cooling rack.

LEWIS NOTES ON THE MUFFIN VARIATION:

  • I overfilled the muffin tin to get big muffins (who wants wimpy muffins?) so I actually only yielded about 10 muffins and they were wonderful!

LEWIS NOTES ON AB'S BANANA BREAD/MUFFINS:

  • I made two batches of this recipe. On the first batch I made muffins and was out of Almond Extract so I just skipped this. IMHO they were better without it. (Please AB don't hate me for this but by God they were better without it!)
  • I made the loaf form for the second batch with the Almond extract and it was still pretty darn good but the muffins were better
  • I used pecans in both versions
  • I used my mixer with the paddle attachment to mix the WET WORKS 1 this not only made it easier than a potato masher but let's face it - it was just plain easier.
  • I almost made this bread several times because I was worried about how safe the bananas would be. They were looking pretty rough but I stayed strong and it paid off. The bananas, although VERY BLACK, were perfectly fine when I peeled them open - so STAY STRONG!

My bananas:

Banana Bread Loaf:

Banana Nut Muffins (sorry there aren't more but well, what can I say they were good...):


Of course I am already a huge AB fan, let's face he's the best, but I LOVE the way he writes his books. I cannot tell you how many times I hear a "Chef" or cookbook author say over and over and over to weigh everything and then all the recipes are in cups and tablespoons. Not a weight to be found. SO ANNOYING! AB gives you all the weights AND the cups/tablespoons just in case you don't have scale (but you should get one it will truly change your life! Well, maybe not your life but it's cool.)

30 comments:

slush said...

Wicked good looking bread and muffins! Im not hard core enough to buy a scale yet. But maybe sometime in the near future. Im still piddling around with my baking.

breadchick said...

Oh Lewis! This is such perfect timing! I walked into the kitchen this morning to the overwhelming smell of bananas because I had let some go too far ripe for me (I'm a just past green girl when it comes to eating bananas). I said to myself I would make banana bread when I got home.

Now I have a new recipe to try to boot!

Cyndi said...

Inevitably when I buy bananas 95% of them go bad because we don't eat them. Of course, this is always an opportunity to make banana bread/muffins. (Before the bananas actually go bad, of course.)

I just made a banana bread less than 2 weeks ago. It was Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe and was very good. I'm anxious to try AB's recipe now though. I will definitely go the muffin route this time.

Now that's good eats!

Cyndi

Lydia said...

As good as the bread looks, the muffins look so much more tempting. I can understand why there weren't as many left to photograph.....

Lewis said...

Slush - I found one at Target for $15.00 USD (that's .20 Euros - LOL) and it's fun to pull out on occasion. You know I never really bought the whole 'flour weighs differently' thing until I used the scale for the first time - truly different.

Breadchick - glad I could get there in time :) Be sure to stop by and let us know how it works out!

Cyndi - Yes it is!

Lydia - hehe, always will the muffins rule!

roopa said...

I LOVE both banana bread and AB, so I am going to have to try this. (I'm a scientist by training, which explains why I love AB so much.)

Unfortunately I don't have any bananas at home, but when I get some, you can be sure that I'll be making this!

BumbleVee said...

When my bananas go "over ripe" I put them in the freezer. Sooo easy to use them then. Take them out a few hours or day before you are ready to use them. (or nuke them on very low for about 10 mins or whatever it takes you) if you need them soft sooner) Cut off the end when ready..and gently begin to squeeze the contents out beginning with the opposite end. Looks gross...but no mess..just toss the skins.

I also use Snow White (my mixer) for the wet..love to get the eggs and butter all fluffy... but then use my wooden spoon to add and gently mix the dry with the wet. No over mixing or it definitely becomes cake batter and not muffins to me. I thin of muffins as more...rustic... looking. I love muffins...don't want cupcakes.

Lewis said...

roopa - Get some bananas quick because these muffins are delicious!! and thanks for stopping by :)

bumblevee - thanks for the great tip on putting bananas in the freezer. I was unaware of being able to do this. I am in the process of ripening another batch of bananas and I will give this a try - thanks for stopping in :)

MrsPresley said...

i love AB... though i do not have any of his cookbooks. a friend let me borrow his cooking one and i have enjoyed it thus far. i imagine his baking book is even better!

Lewis said...

AB's cooking book is I'm Just Here For The Food. It's equally wonderful. I highly recommend both!

Thanks for stopping in MrsPresley

Brian said...

Random question about the cookbook. Check the Chocolate Chip #10 recipe and see if the vanilla extract is 'wrong'. In mine the weight and volume are WAY off (the weight being much greater). I made them with the silly amount of vanilla and they rock!

Lewis said...

Brian - I hadn't yet made it to the Chocolate Cookies but I took a look at what you were saying and OH MY!

I ran (ok, I eventually made it to - ) the kitchen and pulled out my scale and put a 1/2 cup measurer on my scale and zeroed it out. Then I started to measure by tablespoons:

1, 2, 3, 4, oh my, 5, ok, now we are at 50g shift to teaspoons - 1, 54g, 2, 58g.

ok, so there you have it: 5tbs + 2tsp = almost 1/2 cup of vanilla extract.

I am going to have to agree with you on this one :) 1/2 cup of vanilla extract DOES NOT = 1 tsp.

And you say that you made it with this much? I almost ran out of extract just to see how much this was! I think you would have to rename yours to "Vanilla cookies with Chocolate Chips in them". It's a new recipe!

Thanks for bringing this to everyones attention!

Brian said...

Yup, I made them that way. Hadn't made cookies from scratch in forever and figured... "that sure does seem like a lot of vanilla..but AB generally knows what he's talking about" Funny thing is that I later had someone mention to me that she had heard it suggested to triple the normal amount of vanilla (and other extracts) in recipes to make the flavor stand out more.

Needless to say, I didn't increase it in this recipe.

Fortunately I was also using imitation stuff, otherwise I'd go broke making these (which I still make 'wrong').

Julie said...

I love AB and his books, too! And I love how he explains what each ingredient actually does, so even if you're not enamored with his recipe, you can doctor it up however you like. For awhile, I did his version of the chocolate chip cookie episode, adjusting amounts to get the cookie I wanted.

sketchy said...

Was readign back through your blog and came across this post. There are numerous errors in the cookbook (Volume One) I think they were corrected int he reprint.

Here is a link to the errors. I noticed how bad my cookbook was when I made the brownies.

http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/ABFP/ijhfmf.htm

Dave

Harry Potter said...

This recipe is whack! Stay away from the Almond Extract! It totally overwhelms this. If I wanted to make Almond Bread, I would have looked up a recipe on Almond Bread.

Table Bread said...

Harry Potter - Well, as much as I hate to agree with the work "whack" in this case I do. As I noted in my post the Almond extract completely overwhelms this recipe. Let me know how yours turns out.

susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Table Bread said...

Susan - Be sure to stop back and let us know how it goes or if you're feeling extra generous email me pics :) tablebread at gmail dot com!

susan said...

Lewis, when I posted and then deleted my post it was because I was unsure your name was Lewis. Now I am sure! Anyway...I am a big AB fan, as is my hubby. We lived in Atlanta, GA, home of AB, until recently, and now live in northern Germany. I wanted to say how I love that you put metric weights in this recipe. I've got the bananas ready, and am in the baking mood. I will also opt out on the almond extract as I don't have any here.

uno said...

I wish I would have read the comments before jumping into the recipe. I added the stated amount of almond extract and will report the results after I dig in.

I also plan on making it again so I'll try w/out the almond extract and also report back then.

I make recipes I see on Good Eats all the time and now my friends and random people who I happen to feed all think I'm a food god. :)

Anonymous said...

I realize I am late to the party, but I made the muffin version today (sans almond extract). They are good, but I'm left feeling like I did something wrong. They didn't rise upward, they stayed more flat, pouring out onto the top of the muffin pan and cooking to a crisp on top.

Ok, before posting this I decided to re-read the recipe, and I totally see what I did wrong. I forgot to write down the salt when I copied the recipe. OOPS! I look forward to making these again, this time correctly!

Thanks for the recipe!

Tim said...

Of course I love AB and Banana Bread but people listen to me when I say this FREEZE YOUR BANANAS (peeled) They stay fresh for a month at least. Then you can make banana bread, smoothies, banana shakes, etc! I always have bananas in my home now since I put 2 and 2 together.


By the way bananas with haggen Daz ice cream as a shake is amazing.... (not good for my diet), another way to rationalize to make it healthy is to add a carnation instant breakfast chocolate....very good, got me through my wisdom teeth surgery recovery.

Shaun said...

I made this banana bread last night. It turned out great. I assume it will turn out even better when I make oat flour instead of just putting in AP flour for everything.

My wife and I have tried multiple banana bread recipes and until now we had not found one to try again.

Anonymous said...

Use parchment paper not wax paper or you'll be in for a nasty surprise :)

becktilda said...

I am a girl living in a house with six guys. We are all responsible for purchasing our own food and they constantly let their bananas get black.
So I hijack them.
And freeze them until I am ready to make this bread. And it is far easier to peel the bananas, cut them up, and freeze them in a baggie or other container that you can seal (far less disgusting!). Just make sure you mark the container with how many bananas you have in there!

I make a few adjustments to the ingredients to make it a little healthier:
1 c AP whole wheat flour
1/3 c wheat germ
1/3 c flax seed meal
(I did not use any oat flour)
I substituted 1/4 c olive oil for half of the butter

And it comes out d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!!!

And yes, I do share the bread with my roomies. After all, they did contribute the bananas...
:-)

lap_kittin_720 said...

I love AB been watching him almost religeously since i was 12* hehe. Tried this recipe and instead of almond X I used vanilla instead REALLY great choice if I do say so myself, really complements instead of overwhelming as I have read before. Might try that instead? hope this helps someone!

Melanie B said...

I made this recipe substituting vanilla for almond extract but then I also ground a cup of almonds in my food processor and added it to the dry goods.

My kids don't like nuts in their baked goods but I do so I compromise by grinding them into a sort of nut flour. It adds a nutty taste but does't have the nut chunks the kids hate.

Anyway, I was planning to add pecans but then I was out and the almond extract AB called for gave me an idea. I ran with it and was so glad I did.

I think that my variation is divine. You get a subtle almond flavor, I suspect much less strong than with the extract. You should try it some time.

Anonymous said...

I've made this recipe several times and it just keeps getting better.

I ran out of sugar at the end, so I used 1/3 c brown sugar. Also instead of 1/3 c oat flour, I used 2/3 c. I like the almond extract, but wanted to spice it up a little, so I added some fresh ground nutmeg using my plane.

Best Banana Bread ever.

Caroline Blicq said...

I've used this recipe so many times I've lost count -- it's my go-to recipe for Banana Bread Muffins. I *love* AB's recipes, and this one is defintely a keeper. I like sneaking in a few extra veggies whenever I can as well, as my children are particularly picky, and it's a great way to sneak in a few veggies (carrots, zucchini). :)