Question about my banana nut bread recipe

Discussion in 'Bread' started by JohnnyP, Dec 24, 2017.

  1. JohnnyP

    JohnnyP Member

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    I've been playing with this recipe for 45 years. Makes 5 loaves using the aluminum foil pans.

    10 or so very ripe bananas (I use about 8 cups of puree)
    5 eggs
    1 pound softened butter
    4 cups chopped walnuts (about 1 pound)
    4 1/2 cups flour
    3 1/2 cups white sugar
    1 table spoon baking soda
    1 tea spoon salt

    Convection bake at 330°F (regular bake at 350°) about an hour. Bake until internal temp is 195° for very moist, or up to 215° for drier bread.

    Don't be fooled and take it out too early or it will fall in the middle. Use a meat thermometer.

    I don't know if it makes any difference, but the original recipe called for melted butter.

    Also, I add a table spoon of baking powder as well. In my youth, I just thought it would make it better. Is it helping or hurting? It's been so long since I tried it without.

    Lately I have been evaporating the puree a bit to concentrate the banana flavor and remove the moisture to prevent it from falling.

    My question is: The bread is a little fragile. Do I need to develop gluten? I may be hindering that with the way I mix.

    I know the standard thing to do is mix all wet ingredients, then add the flour, but I have been adding the puree at the end.

    From what I have been reading, the butter prevents gluten from forming, so would it be better to add the puree before the flour?

    Thanks for any suggestions.
     
    JohnnyP, Dec 24, 2017
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  2. JohnnyP

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    That’s a lot of baking soda. The standard is 1/4 teaspoon per cup of flour. While the amount can vary depending on ingredients and factors, you don’t want to deviate that far from the standard. I would scale back that baking soda considerably. I’m surprised you don’t have a bitter chemical taste from the baking soda. It’s better I think to use a combination of baking powder and baking soda in a quick bread.

    And you definitely do not want to develop the gluten. Make sure the flour you use has adequate protein. So no cake flour or pastry flour. And keep the sugar to flour ratio correct. More on that below.

    If you’re up to experimenting, these are the standards I would start with.

    • 3/4 tsp baking powder per 1 cup of flour
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda per 1 cup of flour
    • 1 large egg per 1 cup - 1 1/2 cups flour

    A pound of butter is a lot. Butter contains natural water. As do eggs. I think most of your moisture is from the butter and eggs. Butter is generally melted to evaporate some the natural water evaporates. So you may want to try melting the butter. And as I mentioned above, adjust your eggs to the standard of 1 large egg per 1 cup - 1 1/2 cup flour.

    A cup of sugar is 200g. So your recipe has 700g of sugar

    A cup of flour is between 120g - 140g, depending how you fill the measuring cup. So you have between 540g - 630g.

    If you fill your measuring cup by spoon and level, you will be around 540g. That means you have 36% more sugar to flour by weight. Sugar is a tenderizer. Too much sugar will cause a batter to collapse. Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water from its environment. With all that moisture in your butter and eggs, if you have too much sugar, it will draw moisture from the flour. If the flour does not have enough moisture, it won’t develop the structure to hold the bread together.

    If you do the dip and level method to fill your measuring cup, the flour weight would be closer to the 630g. The sugar then would only be 11% more than the flour by weight. An 11% difference would better stabilize your bread. It’s important to keep the sugar equal or just slightly more than the weight of the flour.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Dec 24, 2017
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  3. JohnnyP

    JohnnyP Member

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    Thanks very much for the explanation. Does this sound more reasonable?

    7 cups banana puree
    3/4 pound butter
    600g sugar
    600g flour
    4 eggs
    1 table spoon baking powder
    1 1/4 teas spoon baking soda
    1 tea spoon salt
    4 cups chopped walnuts

    "And you definitely do not want to develop the gluten. Make sure the flour you use has adequate protein."
    "If the flour does not have enough moisture, it won’t develop the structure to hold the bread together."


    Not to be argumentative, but isn't gluten the protein that gives structure?

    I know we are not making pizza dough, but some of those recipes tell you hydrate the flour first, then add the oil. Otherwise, there is a race to see which the flour absorbs first.

    I think my procedure of adding the puree at the end is robbing the flour of the moisture it needs to provide structure. Instead, the flour absorbs the fat from the eggs and butter, leading to a very tender bread.

    So, in addition to the changes noted above, I will change the procedure by adding the puree to the creamed mixture, then add the flour.
     
    JohnnyP, Dec 25, 2017
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  4. JohnnyP

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the recipe is more in line with baking standards. Given the amount of baking powder, you could probably drop the baking soda to 1 teaspoon.

    Gluten development is always a combination of hydration and mixing/kneading. Always.

    Hydration triggers gluten development. It is the necessary first step for gluten development. But it must be the right amount of hydration. Too little water results in too few cross linked bonds between gliadin, gliadin, and water. So the weak gluten structure will not hold together.

    But too much water and the protein bonds become,saturated. Again it won’t hold together because it’s too diluted.

    When the right amount of liquid is added, the product still won’t have the necessary cross-linked protein to water bonds to hold together. So we mix and/or knead to develop the right amount of gluten formation,

    In breads, strudel dough, and laminated dough, considerablely more mixing and kneading is required in addition to the hydration.

    In quick breads, cake batter, pie dough and cookies, very little mixing is needed after the flour is hydrated.

    But gluten formation will not happen without water first.

    Homemade pizza dough mixing methods are based on commercial production. It used to be common to mix all wet ingredients including oil, and yeast first, then add flour. But even a short delay before adding flour resulted in yeast fermentation. So when the flour was added, it would begin to ferment within minutes. To prevent over fermentation, resting temperature had to be lowered. So over time some bakers revised the mixing order based on yeast fermentation.

    I do not think your dough has a low hydration problem; I think it’s too much hydration.

    The mixing method is for quick breads is the muffin method. It’s a suspension, rather than an emulsion. A suspension is a batter in which particles are dispersed throughout the fluid. The mixing order is designed to create a batter capable of holding heavy ingredients like banana purée and nuts. By changing the mixing order you may find the batter won’t hold the heavy ingredients.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Dec 26, 2017
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  5. JohnnyP

    JohnnyP Member

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    Thank you again.

    To be clear, what should the mixing order be? At what point should I add the puree?
     
    JohnnyP, Dec 26, 2017
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  6. JohnnyP

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    There’s a tendency toward using one bowl because people don’t like to wash. But I believe the tendency should be getting the best results. Otherwise, why bother to bake from scratch. So this isn’t a one bowl method.

    Mixing order: I explained where necessary why it’s mixed in this order.

    • In a large bowl sift together all dry ingredients EXCEPT sugar —sifting is necessary to properly disperse leavening. Set aside
    • In a separate bowl mash very ripe bananas to the consistency you prefer. Set aside
    • In separate large bowl, melt butter in microwave. Or melt on stove, and transfer to bowl
    • Mix sugar into melted butter. This helps cools the butter before adding the egg.
    • Mix eggs into butter and sugar. Since the butter and eggs are the only sources for water, by mixing the sugar into them first, there’s less water available to the flour. This helps to control the amount of gluten development that is triggered by contact with the liquid. So there’s less chance of over development of gluten with stirring. So a more tender bread. Also, hydrating the sugar first helps ensure a moist bread
    • Mix banana purée into butter, sugar, egg mixture. By adding banana into the sugar mixture, you better distribute its mass.
    • Mix flour mixture into the sugar mixture until just incorporated
    • Mix in nuts
     
    Norcalbaker59, Dec 26, 2017
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  7. JohnnyP

    JohnnyP Member

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    No, I don't mind the extra bowls, and thank you for the instructions.

    I know there is water in bananas, so I just googled it and see they are nearly 75% water. So in 8 cups of puree there would be 6 cups of water.
     
    JohnnyP, Dec 26, 2017
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  8. JohnnyP

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Water content in fruit like bananas is a misleading. If you squeeze an orange, an apple, a grape, a blueberry you can actually extract an extraordinary amount of water. In fact water can be extracted without even squeezing these fruits. Simply cover sliced apples with sugar and leave it for 30 minutes. There will be an extraordinary amount of water at the bottom of the bowl.

    But squeeze a banana or leave it sliced cover with sugar and there will be little moisture. So 8 cups of banana does not actually translate into 6 cups of available water.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Dec 26, 2017
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  9. JohnnyP

    JohnnyP Member

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    :)Lots of hidden science in baking.
     
    JohnnyP, Dec 26, 2017
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  10. JohnnyP

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    One last thing I wanted to mention is it’s great you know to check internal temperature for doneness. I like internal temperatures of 200° to 203° for cakes, quick breads, and enriched doughs. It’s a shame that bakers are not routinely taught to check internal temperature. It’s really the only way to,get the perfect bake.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Dec 27, 2017
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  11. JohnnyP

    JohnnyP Member

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    "But squeeze a banana or leave it sliced cover with sugar and there will be little moisture. So 8 cups of banana does not actually translate into 6 cups of available water."

    I forgot to put on my thinking cap. Most of the water is inside the cell walls.
     
    JohnnyP, Dec 27, 2017
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