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 oven......it'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!
BANANA NUT TWISTS
(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
CREAM CHEESE ICING:
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.