The allure of homemade bread goes further than having my house smelling like fresh bread. The quality ingredients that I use and the endless combination of flavours mean I make bread that simply can’t be bought from commercial bakeries. This weekend’s Banana Maple Pecan Buns are the perfect example. When was the last time you encounter yeast bread made with banana puree?
These glossy mahogany buns have beauty much more than skin deep. Let me count the goodies that went into the dough: banana puree, pecans, jumbo sundried red grapes, maple syrup, cocoa, cinnamon, and ginger. They taste as indulgent as it sounds yet at the same time there is a hearty quality about them. These Banana Maple Pecan Buns are great way to start any morning along with a mug of coffee-spiked Ovaltine.
If you think they remind you of hot cross buns, you’re not alone. The recipe comes from Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet (previously published in The Guardian) and he wrote in the headnote that these buns would make a great alternative to the traditional currant spiced buns. There is even direction in the recipe to pipe flour paste crosses on the buns if you choose to. Aside from their gorgeous good looks, what drew me most to the recipe is the use of banana puree. The buns stay moist days after baking with a subtle but characteristic banana flavour.
The dough started off rather sticky but kneading with oil-greased hands with a light touch was not particularly difficult. With every 10min rest, the dough became smoother and easier to work with. In fact, by the time I shaped the dough into a dozen balls, it was very well-behaved and I barely needed any extra flour for dusting. I opted to bake the bread in a parchment paper-lined 9x13 cake pan. The dough rose to just touching each other and it was a joy to separate the baked buns with soft sides.
The Banana Maple Pecan Buns are best enjoyed warm. I am not afraid to admit that I warm the buns for about 10 seconds in the microwave as I prepare my morning coffee. They are rich enough to stand on its own but if you want a little pat of butter, it would not be out of place. However, I would stay away from jam (even delicious homemade preserves…) since there is enough going on with the bun itself. Can you imagine what kind of fantastic bread pudding these would make? Oh my.
As you can tell by now, I’m very fond of Lepard’s book and his recipes make regular appearances in my kitchen. I really hope Short & Sweet will be published in the US soon but for now, a Kindle edition is all that’s available. Lucky for us Canadians, the book has been available for some months. Are you still looking for a perfect gift for the baker in your life?