Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Banana Nut Twists

I don't get to bake as often as I used to, so when I do get the opportunity, I jump right on it.

Making bread is up there at the top of the list of my favorite things to bake. No bread machine for me-I love doing all the kneading by hand.  The KitchenAid helps with the mixing, but for me, there's something zen-like about kneading bread dough. I find it so relaxing.  And there's nothing like the aroma that fills the house when fresh bread is baking in the's heavenly.

I've been wanting to make some sweet rolls that I can wrap up and tuck away in the freezer to have ready to take out for a treat.  I have some great recipes for cinnamon rolls and such, but wanted to try something new.

There they were....3 bananas from the last bunch we bought sitting on the counter, ripe and ready for baking.  I've made a cinnamon roll-type recipe using bananas in the past, but this time I wanted to try something new and different. With a cookbook collection of well over 200 books-there HAD to be something in one of them.  I reached for an old cookbook that was my Mom's that has always been a great source of ideas for me. She bought this Pillsbury Best 1000 Recipes Best of the Bake-Off Collection cookbook back in the early 1960's. It's a cookbook I still turn to for inspiration to this day.  It's got all of the winners from the first 10 Bake-Off contests-back when baking was done from scratch-no packaged mixes in these recipes. This book is so well loved by both Mom and me that it's starting to fall apart. When I ran across a re-release of the book a few years ago, I grabbed one so that I'd have a replacement for Mom's when it gets too tired to stay together. 

I went looking in the sweet yeast rolls section and there it was-a recipe that was all the inspiration I needed to use those bananas.  I couldn't wait to get started.

This bread dough goes together quickly in the mixer.  As with all of my sweet roll recipes, I like to add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and one of butter flavor extract to give the dough a little richness. I also always use bread flour for any yeast breads that I make.  I find it makes the dough lighter and I use less flour than when I use all-purpose flour.

Instead of making a pan of cinnamon rolls, I opted to make individual twists with this dough...those would be easy to wrap and freeze so that I could take a couple out of the freezer at a time rather than a whole pan of rolls. I've read that spritzing the rolled out bread dough with water rather than using melted or softened butter allows the cinnamon and sugar to adhere to the bread dough as it's rising and the rolls have less of a tendency to separate from the cinnamon layer.  I decided to try that method and boy am I happy with the outcome. 

One more component-the icing-and my sweet rolls would be complete. I thought a light coating of cream cheese icing would be a nice compliment to the banana in the rolls-that and a generous sprinkling of toasted pecans. 

I'm so happy with the way these rolls turned out.  The banana flavor is subtle, but it's there.  There's a little touch of sweetness from the cinnamon swirl in the center and the slight tang of the cream cheese icing compliments the rolls nicely. Oh, and let's not forget those finely chopped pecans-they add the crowning touch.

I've kept a few up here to have as a treat and the rest have gone down to the freezer on a cookie sheet. Once the rolls have almost frozen, I'll remove them from the cookie sheet, wrap each one individually in aluminum foil and pop them into a resealable freezer bag. 

If you love to make bread and you too have those pesky overripe bananas that need to find a home in something good, I do hope you'll give this recipe a try. 

A big thank you to Linda for having me as a guest poster on your wonderful blog...I've had a great time!



(Source: Inspired by the recipe Golden Bananzas by Mrs. Pazzino de'Pazzi from Hampton Bays, Long Island, NY. from Pillsbury's Best 1000 Recipes Best of the Bake Off Collection)


1 (1/4 oz.) pkg. active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)

Pinch of granulated sugar

1/4 c. warm water (100-110 degrees)

1/3 c. granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 c. warm buttermilk (100-115 degrees)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 c. mashed very ripe bananas

4 drops yellow food coloring

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. butter flavor extract

1 large unbeaten egg

4 1/4-4 3/4 c. sifted bread flour


1/2 c. granulated sugar

2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

4 Tbsp. butter, melted, to brush over the baked rolls
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/8 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. pure lemon extract
2-2 1/2 Tbsp. milk

1/2 c. pecans, toasted and finely chopped

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and pinch of sugar in 1/4 cup warm water.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the 1/3 cup granulated sugar, salt, oil and buttermilk. whisking until combined. 

Add the baking soda, bananas, food coloring, vanilla, butter extract, egg and 2 cups of the bread flour.  Beat on medium speed of an electric mixer for 2 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 c. flour and beat on medium speed.  Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. I always measure the largest amount of flour asked for in the recipe and hold back what I don't use in the dough to use for kneading and rolling the bread dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead, adding as little flour as possible, until smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes.  The dough will still be slightly sticky. 

Place the dough in a greased bowl, then turn the dough to grease the top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a linen towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. When 2 fingers pressed lightly into the side of the dough leave indentations, the dough has doubled in size.

For the filling, combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, stirring until well mixed.  Set aside.

Spray 3 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set them aside.

Punch the dough down, turn it onto a floured surface and roll the dough into a 24x6-inch rectangle.  Spritz the dough's surface lightly with cool water.  Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture evenly over the dough. Fold the dough in half to create a 24x3-inch rectangle. Pinch all the edges to seal.

Cut the rectangle into (24) 1" strips.  I have a long pizza chopper like this one (thank you Cyndy!) that does a great job for this.  A nice sharp chef's knife works well too.  What I do is place a yard stick next to the dough and use a knife to score each slice through the top layer of dough only.  I then use the pizza chopper (or my chef's knife) to cut straight down through the bottom layer of dough.  Don't drag the knife-that distorts each slice-cutting straight down with a slight rocking motion gives the dough a nice clean cut.

Twist each strip of dough 3-4 times and place on the prepared baking sheets.  Cover each pan lightly with a piece of plastic wrap that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  This makes it easy to lift off the risen rolls and not have the plastic wrap stick to them.  Let the rolls rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.

When the rolls are almost doubled in size, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Uncover each pan of rolls and bake @ 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown.  Immediately upon removing the pan of rolls from the oven, I like to brush each of them with a little melted butter-this gives them a nice shine and keeps the rolls soft.  It's not a necessary step, but it's the way my grandmother and mother have always done it when they make bread, so I continue their tradition.

Remove the rolls from the pan to wire racks to cool completely.

For the icing, in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and lemon extract and beat until thoroughly combined and smooth.  Add 2 Tbsp. milk and beat until smooth, adding more milk as necessary to reach the desired spreading consistency.

When the rolls are cooled, spread each one lightly with some of the cream cheese icing and sprinkle each roll with the finely chopped toasted pecans. Makes 24 rolls.

Store any leftover rolls in the refrigerator. To get that fresh baked taste, microwave any leftover rolls for 5 or so seconds and they'll be just as soft and delicious as the day you baked them.  The rolls can also be frozen.  I place the rolls on a baking sheet, cover it with foil and place the pan in the freezer for about 45-60 minutes.  When the rolls are almost frozen through, I wrap each one in aluminum foil, place them in a resealable bag and pop them back in the freezer. 


  1. I was surprised when I saw this entry from Carol, so I knew I must have missed something yesterday, and sure enough, I forgot to come here.

    Carol, you have such a wonderful way of keeping me interested in what you are saying. I loved the story you wrote about the recipe, and the cook books. I am not a baker, but I like to read about how you do the kneading and all. My hands would never allow me to do all that. Not a big fan of bananas, but you made my mouth water. Now cinnamon rolls would have had me begging. I love the idea of freezing the rolls on a baking sheet and then wrapping them in foil. Must be nice to have fresh baked rolls when you need them.

    The picture of the rolls that Bob took is wonderful. You should write a cookbook along with Linda, it would be a success. Thank you for sharing your talents, and I loved every word you wrote. Come back and post another entry someday soon.

    1. Thanks so much, Myra-I tend to be a real blabbermouth once I get started. :)

      I'm SO with you about cinnamon rolls-I love making them AND eating them. These were a nice alternative and the banana taste, while there, wasn't overpowering. I have some ideas rattling around in my head for switches on cinnamon rolls-if I could only find someone to eat them besides us! That's why I frozen a good part of these twists.....they're dangerous when I open that refrigerator door.

      I will pass your compliment on to Bob........I'm so glad it's staying light a little later now-once spring/summer arrives, he takes over the photo taking-and I'm MORE than happy to hand it right on over. He's a lot better at it than I am!

    2. I would love to be your tester for the ideas on cinnamon rolls, Carol. Too bad we don't live next door. The smell of the rolls baking would make me a pest and a half at your door.

      You are not a have so much good to say, and it needs to be said. Now a cinnamon roll with some chocolate running through, would be a real winner in my head, or I should say mouth. I tasted some really really yummy cookies this week. They were like a rolled out dough with chocolate in the middle and then rolled up and sliced, I would have eaten the whole tray, and then shoved some in my pocket, but there were others around. I look forward to seeing more of your recipes.

    3. Trust me Myra-if you lived next door-you WOULD be a tester! :) Chocolate in a cinnamon roll would be a good thing-everything's better with chocolate.

      Those cookies do sound delicious---I'd have been trying to tuck a few in my pocket for a snack later too! :)

  2. Another winner from Carol! Thanks so much for posting and this went all over Pinterest!

    1. Thanks again for having me guest post Linda. I'm gonna have Bob proof-read from now on-he found my mistakes like nothin-took me FOREVER to find them. :)

  3. Oh this looks so good Carol. I have got to try this. I love bananas . I can even share this with my neighbor. That way I don't overdo on the sweets. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    1. I hope you enjoy them Dottiemaye. The banana taste isn't real prominent-it's subtle....just be sure the bananas you use are SUPER ripe-that will give the flavor a boost. That's nice that you have a neighbor to share with. All of my neighbors are either on diets or don't/can't eat sweets. Happy baking!

  4. Yay, finally able to use the pizza cutter! These looks so darned good, but then anything I see on Linda's blog looks fabulous. Have to get back into the swing of things & start photographing & posting again, I miss it. Thanks ladies, I can't wait to try these. I have a lot of catching up to do as far as reading here.

    1. Hey, Carol---NICE JOB!! Speaking of chocolate and cinnamon rolls, I have a chocolate cinnamon roll recipe a friend gave me when I was going to college that's wonderful. How can anything that has chocolate AND cinnamon NOT be great??


  5. This looks like a must try recipe. I love the idea of having a sweet treat tucked away in the freezer for another day.