Monday, October 27, 2014

Nutella Banana Bread

A little while ago, I had some bananas that were really turning, so I made banana bread.  I wanted to make a loaf for our neighbors, and thought this would be a good recipe to try; bridging our two countries!  (Banana bread for us, Nutella for Italy.)  Well, it was a hit!  They told us they loved it.  They had never heard of banana bread before.  Then, this last weekend, we brought them Snickerdoodles and Nutella No-Bake cookies.  They said they loved those ones too, but the good sweets are bad for the diet!  ;)
This bread is made with buttermilk, and I just love using buttermilk in baked goods.  It's also scented with cinnamon.  Then you swirl pure Nutella through the batter, and on top.  I even used a little less Nutella than indicated and it turned out perfect!  I didn't have hazelnuts on hand when I made this, but they would be delicious.  

Nutella Banana Bread
adapted from Baking the Goods

4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cupcanola or vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 medium sized bananas
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, optional
1 cup Nutella (add an extra 1/2 cup if desired)
1.  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Lightly grease and flour two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans and set aside.

2.  Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and whisk together.

3.  Peel the bananas into a medium bowl and mush them with the back of a wooden spoon until they resemble a puree.  Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar, brown sugar, oil and banana puree on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, until fully blended.  Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and whisk in the vanilla. With the mixer on a low speed, slowly add the eggs to the banana mixture. Continue to mix until the eggs are fully incorporated.

4.  Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until the the dry ingredients are absorbed. Then add half of the buttermilk. Mix together and repeat with half of the remaining dry ingredients and the remainder of the buttermilk. Finally add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add 1 cup of the chopped hazelnuts, if using, and mix in by hand.

5.  Fill one prepared pan halfway with the batter. Dollop in about 1/4 cup of Nutella and gently swirl into the batter mixture using a butter knife or a small spatula. Be careful not to over-mix the two, you want a nice line of Nutella swirling through the bread. (If the Nutella is too thick to work with, transfer to a microwave safe bowl and zap it for 15-20 seconds to soften it up a bit).  Cover the Nutella swirled batter with a second layer of batter, fill until the loaf pan is about almost full. Swirl another 1/4 cup of Nutella over the top layer.  Repeat with second loaf pan.  Top both loaves with remaining chopped hazelnuts, if using.

6.  Bake on 350° for 30 minutes, rotate the pans and bake for another 30 minutes. Lower the temperature to 325°, rotate the pans again and bake for 20-30 additional minutes. The loaves should turn a deep golden brown and begin to crack at the top. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.  Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove the bread loaves from pans and invert onto the rack to cool completely before slicing.

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