Sunday, March 05, 2006

Coconut Banana Bread w/ Lime Glaze

I do not make my own bread. I have in the past, but now that I live less than 1 block away from my favorite neighborhood bakery (I assure you my habitat’s location is pure coincidence) I find no need to make my own. In the summer, when I leave my windows open in the bedroom, if I go to sleep late enough (around 2 am), the smell of fresh baking bread comes wafting down the shared alleyway. Every so often, I drag myself from bed, pull on clothes, and go to the bakery at this time. The front door is left open for ventilation and one is allowed to buy tomorrow’s bread, still warm—right off the racks. Why bake bread with a setup like this?

This is why: while my neighborhood bakery has succulent olive breads, ciabatta, sourdoughs, wheat and ryes, there are no sweet breads. No carrot bread or zucchini bread. More importantly, no banana bread! Which I feel should really be a staple in any bakery.

When I was younger, it was almost weekly that my mother would produce one of the above three mentioned sweet breads. While my favorite (surprise to myself) was the zucchini bread, banana to this day, takes a close second.

A few years ago while working in publishing, my mother used to ship (bribes for books) of fresh baked goods for my fellow workers and me. The best shipment we ever acquired was shortly after my mother received Cooking Light, September 2003. I went to the mailroom to retrieve my package—the entire room smelled like banana. A new screening process had recently been implemented for incoming packages and I am sure the mailroom staff had a good laugh when the pungent package of baked products came through. The package was released to me under one condition: it had to be opened right then, and all present were to receive a piece of whatever was inside.

Inside were three of Cooking Light’s seven best banana breads: Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread, Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze and Classic Banana Bread. Needless to say Cooking Light completed all research to ensure that each recipe was pungent with banana and mouthwateringly delicious. They were even able to survive the two-day shipping process, keeping moist.

With three bananas awaiting me in the freezer and a fresh coconut in the refrigerator, re-creating the coconut with lime glaze was a natural choice (even though fresh coconut is not necessary. This bread is moist and delicious with the perfect blend of coconut and banana. It remains fresh days later and the coconut-lime combination is the perfect compliment to the banana. All seven Cooking Light recipes can be found here along with nutrition information for each. The Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze is below.

Serving Size= 12-16 slices. Active Time= 20 minutes. Inactive Time= 1 hour.
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* ¾ teaspoon baking soda
* ½ teaspoon salt
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* ¼ cup butter, softened
* 2 large eggs
* 1-½ cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
* ¼ cup plain low-fat yogurt
* 3 tablespoons dark rum
* ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
* ½ cup flaked sweetened coconut
* Cooking spray
* 1 tablespoon flaked sweetened coconut
* ½ cup powdered sugar
* 1-½ tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

1) Preheat oven to 350°.
2) Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk to combine.
3) Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute).
4) Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, rum, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Stir in ½ cup coconut.
5) Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
6) Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring with a whisk; drizzle over warm bread. Cool bread completely on wire rack.

COOKING NOTES: 1) Although the rum smells excellent in the batter, I do not know if it is necessary in the final product. To really utilize the rum flavor I think mixing it in with the glaze for more of a kick. 2) In the final batter I added about ¾ cup coconut (an extra ¼ cup). The final bread is saturated in delicious coconut bits. 3) I used a 8 x 4-¼ inch bread pan coated in butter instead of cooking spray. The batter just fit the pan and really popped out during baking. 4) My bread baked for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

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