Plantain Bread & The Wonder of Quick Loaves

Plantain Bread & The Wonder of Quick Loaves

For some reason, I especially love recipes that turn old or ugly fruit and vegetables from trash to treasure. It’s almost like getting something for free.

Rubbery zucchini? Zucchini Bread! Black, squishy bananas? Banana Bread! Dented Eggplant? Make Baba Ganoush! Bruised apples or strawberries? Perfect for a quick fruit sauce.

When we had two soft, black plantains that were surplus to requirements for our Cuban dinner, I assumed they’d be a good addition to a quick bread, and I was more than thrilled with the result.

Our walnut-studded plantain bread turned out a super-moist, flavorful and dense loaf. Wonderful with coffee. I would purchase extra plantains and let them rot just to have the the opportunity to make this loaf again.

In general, quick breads are extremely fast and easy to put together, and they create a wonderful second life for all kinds of pulpy and starchy things, including your bruised and less attractive pumpkins, sweet potatoes, squash, corn, apples, bananas, plantains, pears and persimmons.

Quick loaves are called “quick” because they use baking powder instead of yeast for leavening. They’re great recipes to make with the kids because they’re just a few simple ingredients. They are also forgiving, so you can play around with which kind of flour you use, and you can typically substitute gluten-free flours with great success.

Plantain bread batter in the loaf pan, uncooked

Feeling creative? Throw in chopped nuts, shredded coconut, peanut butter, poppyseeds, sesame seeds, chocolate chips, berries or chopped, dried fruit. If you sprinkle a few nuts, seeds or coconut on top, they’ll get extra-toasty.

Quick and Easy Plantain Bread

(1 loaf)

  • 2 extremely ripe plantains (they should be black and soft)
  • 80 grams (1/3 cup) melted butter or olive oil
  • 140 grams (1/3 cup) granulated white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 200 grams flour (1 1/4 cup), you can use all-purpose flour, or a mixture of other flours
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Meanwhile, peel and mash the plantains, either with a fork or in a food processor. Transfer the mash to a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the melted butter or olive oil, sugar and egg as well as the nuts, the vanilla extract or cinnamon, if using. Blend well.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, soda and salt.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet plantain mixture until just blended.
  5. Oil or butter the bottom of a 4-inch by 8-inch (11cm by 20cm) loaf pan and pour in the sticky dough mixture, using a rubber scraper to clean the bowl.
  6. Bake at 350F (175C) for 50 to 60 minutes. Test for doneness with a clean toothpick or butter knife, plunging it into the loaf when you believe it's ready. If the knife/toothpick comes out clean, remove your loaf from the oven and cool before serving.

Some people like to wrap their quick breads tightly with plastic wrap or foil to make the loaf uniformly moist, but I like leaving it in the pan to enjoy the crisp top and tender crumb inside. Your choice!

If you don’t devour it right away, your plantain loaf will last several days on the countertop or a few months when wrapped and stored in the freezer.

Happy Recycling! Miss Ginsu

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