Do you roll with bananas?

11 Jul

It’s strange. I don’t quite like eating bananas but give me banana cake or bread and I’d gladly gobble it up. But, being a fussy eater, even with banana breads and cakes I prefer it when the taste of the fruit is not all empowering and is instead tempered  with spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. I’ve made banana bread before but I wasn’t quite satisfied because though tasty, it tasted suspiciously like cake. I have been on the lookout  for an alternate recipe. So, when I spotted a recipe for a yeasted banana bread on My Diverse Kitchen, one that seemed more bread than cake — i.e very little sugar and a moderate measure of banana, my curiosity was piqued. Actually, more like my greed. My hopes and expectation were high as the picture of the rolls depicted  on My Diverse Kitchen was tantalising.

So, I actually made it a point to get up real early on Saturday (to beat the traffic at the morning market — believe it or not, it gets insane after 730am!) and got myself a bunch of ripe bananas: I chose the small, sweet pisang mas because I think they cook  well.  I had all the other ingredients in my pantry already: all purpose flour, cardamom, butter, salt, sugar and yeast so I was all set.

I followed the recipe to a T, with one exception: I used instant yeast instead of active dry yeast —  a small inconsequential adjustment. The recipe was easy enough to follow but let me caution you: it takes about 3 hours to make these rolls. You need to allow the dough to rise twice and the first rise is for 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours. Anyhow, it was worth the time. The rolls turned out well. They were soft and fluffy and just a little moist. And, it looked like a football/soccer ball! How apt that the World Cup final starts in less than 6 hours!

The only problem was that I could hardly taste the banana; they tasted too much like dinner rolls. Delicious dinner rolls, no doubt,  but where’d the taste of the cup full of mashed banana go? Perhaps the bananas I bought weren’t sweet enough…

Told you I was fussy. No  matter, I finished the eight rolls the recipe yielded with the help of a couple of  friends and guess what I did? I  decided to give it another go, adding more banana this time around. After all,  I reasoned, I wasn’t going to eat the remaining fruit in a hurry …

Instead of 1 cup of mashed bananas, I used close to 2 cups. I added a bit more cardamom and a little nutmeg too. This time, it was just  perfect.

Here’s the recipe.

31/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup lukewarm water (plus a bit more, in case)
½ cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 cup banana, mashed
1/2 tsp  cardamom powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
Melted butter for brushing on rolls once they’re out of the oven

Whisk together the banana, water, buttermilk, yeast, salt, sugar, cardamom,  nutmeg and butter in the bowl of your stand mixer till all the ingredients are well incorporated. Fix the dough hook attachment  and,  adding the  flour in two batches, mix  the wet and dry ingredients till a dough forms, about 5 mins. The dough should be sticky and moist.

Remover the bowl from the mixer and cover with a damp cloth. Let it sit in a warm spot, allowing the dough to rise for about 2 hours. It should double it’s size and deflate. If it hasn’t deflated, de-gas it gently after the two hours are up.

Flouring your hands, gently form balls (the size is up to you; mine were half the size of a tennis ball) and arrange them (touching each other) in an 8-inch round cake tin.The balls need to be the same size: they look prettier and will cook more evenly.  Cover and let the dough balls rise again for about 30 -45 mins. Bake at 180C for 30 to 40 mins or till the tops are golden.

For soft rolls, brush the top with melted butter once you’ve taken them out of the oven. Set aside to cool. Best eaten warm.

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