Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Banana, Pumpkin, and Hazelnut Bread

A while back, I attempted to ship some canned pumpkin to a friend in Italy. Apparently it doesn't exist there, and she wanted to make pumpkin pie.

A few months later, the package was back on my doorstep with all sorts of interesting stickers and notations. It looked like it had a rough trip - it was mashed and dented and crushed.

The cans were similarly dented.

So there I was, with four dented cans of pumpkin, and Thanksgiving far, far away.

I also had a couple of overripe bananas. And when I say overripe, I mean tragically overripe. Like you can snip the end off the black banana and squeeze the pulp out, like toothpaste from a tube. Not good for eating, but great for baking.

I've made banana pumpkin cookies. So why not banana pumpkin bread? The interesting thing about those cookies was that although there was a LOT more pumpkin than banana, the flavor was predominantly banana. That's what I was looking for in my banana-pumpkin bread.

And just for the fun of it, I threw in some hazelnut meal (ground hazelnuts) as well.

The resulting banana bread is ... well, it's kind of orange. But like the banana pumpkin cookies, the primary flavor is banana. The pumpkin adds color and moisture and just a hint of flavor. The bread isn't super-dense, but it's not nearly as light as cake.

You can bake this in a loaf pan for a more traditional banana bread shape (which would probably require just a tad more baking time), but I opted for making it in a Bundt pan for a more attractive presentation.

Banana, Pumpkin, and Hazelnut Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
2 overripe bananas
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a Bundt or loaf pan with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and hazelnuts. Stir to combine.

Put the bananas in a medium bowl and mash them to get out any lumps. If the bananas are really, really ripe, it might not take a whole lot of mashing. Add the pumpkin, oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula just until combined.

Transfer the batter to your prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before turning the banana bread out onto a rack to cook.

If you want a little garnish, sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar on top of the bread before serving.

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