Saturday, February 25, 2012

California Dreaming (Strawberry Avocado Banana Bread)

I certainly seem to mention the weather a lot, don't I? I blame it on the winter. Today was a strange mixture of sunlight and snow, with harsh winds and a bitter chill in the air. I know it may be the most hated state, but I can't help but keep joking about moving to California. One thing it certainly has on its side is strawberries and avocados: two of my favorite fruits. You can expect to see a lot of them on this blog. Thanks to a handy tip from our friend Jen, and my weekly pile of over-ripened bananas, this one was a snap.

Like a little slice of summer

I believe this marks my third banana bread so far, this will be an ongoing trend as well. I always grab a bunch of bananas at the beginning of the week with best intentions, but part of me wonders if I don't let them go all brown and spotty because I subconsciously want to bake more banana breads. They're just that good. Banana bread almost guarantees a tender, moist, and cake-like crumb and an intoxicating aroma. That's taken up another notch in this recipe with the addition of creamy avocado and tart strawberries.

This is a pairing you really need to try; strawberries lend their brilliant sweetness and saucy berry notes to the buttery smooth flesh of the avocado. The strawberry avocado banana bread is exceptionally damp beneath it's thin (yet craggy) crust. It has a fragrant, fruity bouquet deepened ever so slightly by a whisper of cinnamon and the whole is bound and mellowed with a golden swirl of California olive oil. Yes, I successfully baked with olive oil, at last!

The sight of success
This tasty bread is good for a snack, dessert, or breakfast, and I especially love to serve it topped with a dollop of marscapone cheese and lemon zest. For those of you already enjoying sun, it lets you celebrate the season, for those of you bound by snow, it'll help you make it through.

Flavor therapy
Strawberry avocado banana bread
Adapted from the California Avocado Commission

Should your fruit basket contain a different variety of items, I imagine this recipe lends itself to any number of berries, It's the avocado banana blend that's the base recipe. Some chopped and toasted nuts wouldn't be unwelcome, either, and if it's an absolute must, you could probably substitute applesauce for the avocado.

1/3 c rolled oats
1c whole wheat pastry flour, +2 tbs

1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ripe avocado, split and cored
2 very ripe bananas
1c brown sugar
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1 to 1-1/2 c fresh strawberries, chopped (about 12-15 berries)
1/4 c buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 9x5" loaf pan, line the bottom with a slip of parchment paper, and butter the parchment, too.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. Toss the chopped strawberries with 2 tbs of flour in a small bowl and set aside.

Peel the bananas, spoon the avocado from its skin, and mash them together in a large bowl with a fork. Leaving some coarse chunks is perfectly acceptable behavior.

Slips right out
Add the brown sugar and extra virgin olive oil, creaming together. Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating to combine.

California all around
Stir the dry ingredients into the avocado mixture until homogenized, then fold in the buttermilk and strawberries until just combined.

Dredging the berries in flour keeps things juicy, but not too juicy
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, topping with sliced strawberries or cinnamon sugar, if desired.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. The crust should be deeply bronzed and pulling away at the edges, the scent of bananas should be quite intense, and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out mostly clean, with only a few damp crumbs and no ooze of batter.

Serving suggestion
Cool on a wire rack until you can handle the pan bare-handed, then invert into a sheet of parchment paper in your hand and restore to the cooling rack. Allow to cool completely, then slice and serve as desired.

Yields about 12 slices.  Cheers!


Unknown said...

Great photos and interesting recipe.

J said...

Thanks! We had some great light coming in the back window when I started, but by the time I had finished the sun had slipped behind the mountains and I was back to using lamplight.

I really enjoyed the bread, it's quite exceptionally moist and fragrant, though I suppose those who don't care for avocado may still be opposed. :)

Anonymous said...

350, C or F?

James Pereira said...

Sorry, 350 F. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I tried the recipe and it is very yummy!!!