I still remember the first time I ate a piece of Banana bread. It was after coming to the US and joining work, a colleague in office brought some home baked banana bread slices that his wife made and asked all of us to help ourselves. I was very intrigued by the thought of a bread made with Banana's and eagerly helped myself. I could very well taste the banana's, a hint of cinnamon and some roasted walnuts here and there. It was certainly a very tasty bread and I wished he had brought more :-)
Now have you ever heard of a Banana bread with a Heart? :-) Well the name says it all and much more! A surprise with every slice, this is by far my most favorite baking experiment. The beauty lies in its simplicity on the outside and yet it looks so grand and elegant on the inside! Eager yet to see what I'm talking about...read ahead and let's see how I got to making this.
Going back to my old basket full of overripe bananas. Trust me , for some of you this is getting to be the most annoying basket full of overripe bananas - aren't they over yet already?? I've been rambling about them for two months now :-) Don't worry, they are all over now. I apparently had 9 and you can check the various dishes I prepared to finish them here, here and here. And this Banana bread with a Heart was my final and ultimate preparation out of them I would say!!
Many of you must have seen my guest post for Priya and I made her a yummy Chocolate Banana Bread (Eggless). And I had promised to share a surprise at the end of the post...well the surprise is awaiting you...read ahead :-)
After I made the chocolate banana bread I remembered about a peek-a-boo cake I saw here...and then I though, why not cut out shapes from this bread , make another light colored loaf cake/loaf bread , use the cut up slices in that batter , bake in a loaf pan and then when you slice into the cake/bread you would see the lovely surprise in each slice!
So after taking some pics of the Chocolate Banana Bread, I went hunting in my cookie cutter box, looking for a cutter that would be of correct size to get a good portion of each slice. And guess what my Heart shaped cutter was just perfect! Even my cookie cutters know its Valentines season!! ;-)
So I sliced the whole Chocolate Banana Bread loaf and cut out Heart shapes from each slice of the whole loaf and kept them aside and we happily enjoyed the slices with the heart shaped hole :-P
And I went off to bake my next Banana bread (as I still had 3 more banana's to finish) - they were the last ones, I promise! :-)
I added a small amount of banana bread batter in the greased and floured loaf pan and then placed my Chocolate Banana bread hearts in the centre , with each heart sticking to each other with some honey. Then I poured the rest of the banana bread batter on top and baked away and look at the gorgeous results!!
Now was that a good surprise? :-)
The tricky part about baking a Heart shape inside is that the pointed end won't stand up straight while assembling, so adding a little batter in the pan before assembling them gives a slight cushion to hold them straight.
And the most difficult part was waiting for the bread to cool down slightly before I could cut the Banana bread and to tell the truth I did hold my breath when I cut the first slice ;-)
Banana Bread with a Heart - Recipe and Technique
For simple Banana bread
Ripe Bananas - 3 medium sized (about 6" long)
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
All purpose flour - 1 1/2 cups (feel free to use Whole wheat Flour)
Oats (powdered) - 1 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon powder - 1 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Brown Sugar - 1/2 cup
Orange Juice - 1/4 cup (I added the juice squeezed from 1 whole Orange)
Oil - 1/2 cup (canola oil or olive oil)
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Walnuts and Almonds (coarsely chopped) - 1/4 cup each
For the mini heart cutouts
Chocolate Banana bread - recipe here (Baked for 5 mins less than original recipe)
For simple Banana Bread batter
1. Preheat oven to 350F . Grease and flour a 9x5" bread loaf pan.
2. Sift together all the dry ingredients: All purpose flour , powdered oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon powder and salt, except for brown sugar and keep aside.
3. Mash the bananas with the lemon juice. In another bowl add the brown sugar, juice, oil, vanilla extract and mashed bananas and stir to mix well.
4. Now add in all the dry ingredients along with any chopped nuts and mix together until a thick batter is obtained.
For Chocolate Banana bread heart cutouts
1. Bake a Chocolate Banana bread as per recipe and don't fully bake it , so remove from oven 5 mins before its done.
2. Slice the whole bread with a serrated knife into 1" thick slices.
3. Take a heart shaped cookie cutter that will cover a good surface of the bread slice and cut out the heart shapes and keep aside.
For assembling the hearts
1. Pour some of the simple Banana bread batter in the loaf pan.
2. Take each chocolate banana bread heart cutouts, apply some honey to each slice and stick them together and place them in the center throughout the length of the pan (as shown).
Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be covered and stored for a few days, or frozen for longer storage.
You can also do this with regular cake batter with two different colors or flavors.
Just keep in mind, that the cake that you are planning to make shapes out of (or planning to keep in the center) should be baked for 5-10 minutes less than actually stated - to avoid drying out when you bake them again within the other cake batter.
Manish was certainly amazed when he saw the heart shapes in each slice and happily helped himself to a few slices. I took these to office and my colleagues were quite surprised too and one of them was almost expecting me to do something like this as she thinks I can't make simple cakes , and certainly not a simple banana bread..Lol! ;-)
Happy Valentines Day wishes to all in advance!!