Bananas in Bread Don't Always Yield Banana Bread: Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread

When I was shopping for bananas to make banana cupcakes for Baked Sunday Mornings, I ended up buying a large bunch and I had four bananas left over. While I love banana bread, I wanted to try something different and was able to turn those four bananas into three separate baking projects. The first was "Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread" from King Arthur Flour.

To make the dough, I put all of the ingredients (warm milk, bread flour, room temperature butter, instant yeast, salt, honey, and banana chunks) into a mixing bowl and I used my KitchenAid fitted with the dough hook to knead it until smooth. The banana was completely incorporated into the dough with no distinct pieces visible at the end. I let the dough rise in a greased bowl for an hour, shaped it into a log, and placed it in a greased loaf pan where I let it rise again before baking. I tested the internal temperature after the minimum baking time and it was already above 200 degrees.
My loaf wasn't perfectly symmetrical, but I thought it had a reasonable sandwich loaf shape. The crust was thick and dark golden brown; I had tented the bread with foil partway through baking. I'm the type of person who usually doesn't eat the heel of a loaf of bread and tosses it in the compost bin. But when I cut off a thin slice from the end of the loaf with the intention of throwing it in the compost, I took a small bite and it was so good that I ended up eating the whole thing. As well as the heel from the other end.

The crust on this loaf is unusually flavorful and delicious, and it has a satisfying, firm texture with a good amount of chew. The crumb of the bread is soft -- perhaps softer than what I would normally use for sandwich bread. But it is so good even as plain toast, and the crust continues to be my favorite part. The bread is definitely a bit on the sweet side and I could detect the faint flavor of banana in the crust. But then again I knew there was a banana in the loaf and I don't think someone would be able to suss it out without knowing about the banana before tasting it. So I don't know if this was a particularly good use for a banana, since you don't really get banana flavor in the final product. Regardless, it is some really tasty bread.

Recipe: "Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread" from King Arthur Flour.