From Mantou to Banana Cake

Hey guys!

Hey Medha! AKA acid chyme. If you’re reading this I love you. You’re cool. I’m trying to think of a creative inside joke or something, but I don’t think we have any because we’re too busy studying… NOT. So, what do you use to catch an eyemaster? 😉

On another note, I wanted to share this funny afternoon with you guys!

Mom and I weren’t sure what to make in the afternoon, but we had three ripe bananas sitting around. I popped them into the fridge so we wouldn’t get any fruit flies. Drosophilias suck. So do Punnett Squares. And Calculus. Right Medha? 🙂

We decided to make banana bread, and I found two 5-star recipes on Allrecipes and one by Cookie and Kate, one of my favourite recipe sites. I decided to fuse the three recipes together to make my own banana cake recipe, and it turned out really well. Here’s how we did it. If you aren’t into step-by-step photos, just scroll down to the bottom for my recipe 🙂

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Anyways, make sure you use super, super ripe bananas. The blacker, the better when it comes to banana bread! These three were massive, but they don’t have to be too big. Four little ones would do, too.

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Then mix some flour with cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. We used a mixture of spelt, kamut, and whole wheat flour, but that’s not necessary by any means. Feel free to use a mix of any flour you have. All white flour works great as well 🙂 Whisk it all together (and sift, if you’d like) and the dry ingredients are done!

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On to the wet ingredients. You’ll need the three overripe bananas, some coconut oil, vanilla extract, two room temperature eggs (to prevent coconut oil from separating), sour cream, light brown sugar, and honey. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use sugar, honey, or maple, but finally decided on a mix of light brown sugar and honey. They turned out great, and not too sweet. We actually decreased the sugar from 1.5 cups to just 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp!

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When the wet ingredients are all whisked up, carefully pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Use a spoonula (yep!) or spoon to stir them together. Don’t overmix, and seriously, don’t use such a tiny bowl. There was so much flour to wipe off the tablecloth after this!

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Again, be careful not to overmix! If you do, you’ll get tough, dense, chewy, firm banana cake, which would NOT be yummy. I know it’s super tempting to stir until everything is as smooth as possible, but stirring too much will cause the gluten (protein in flour) to form a thick, sticky network. Gluten is what holds baked goods together – which is why gluten-free baked goods often require xanthan gum as a binder – and gives them their structure.

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Sadly, gluten is also responsible for making dough and batter super tough. Mixing too much will cause the gluten to turn firm, and the muffin won’t be as tender.  Streaks of flour in the batter are totally okay! Make sure there are still plenty of pockets of flour before you add the chocolate chips. They’ll bake out to be just fine.

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Time for the funny story! Mom was making mantou for Grandma. Grandma loves Chinese steamed buns, and they’re a huge part of her diet. She eats them alongside meat, soup, or dumplings. 🙂

Steamed buns are made of wheat flour, water, and leavening agents (Mom uses yeast). You can also add things like taro, sweet potato, brown sugar, or corn to make flavoured mantou. By the way, if you’ve never had mantou, they’re usually soft and fluffy. Kind of like a thick, blobby, dense pita bread? Okay, that was a bad description… sorry.

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Mantou are a main source of carbohydrates in the Chinese diet, and I’d say they are equivalent to rice. Mantou are small, cottony, and delicate in restaurants, where they are often deep-fried and dipped in sweet condensed milk. Working men often have two or three fist-sized mantou for lunch. You can also find mantou in Asian supermarkets, frozen! BTW the huge pot on the right is the steaming pot we use for mantou. 🙂

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Grandma made red beans in brown sugar water in her steamer, and she wanted them inside the mantou to make baozi (mantou with filling).

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So my mom put about a tablespoon into each rolled out dough, and then sealed it up.

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She pinched it up with her fingers and sealed out all the air.

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I like the tetrahedral shape! … those are tetrahedrals, right? I forgot all the molecular geometry I learned before spring break!

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Mom says “these are Grandma’s favourite hongdou buns”. Hong dou = red bean 🙂

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She really liked rolling them out! Meanwhile, my banana cake went into the oven for 50 minutes.

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And the red bean mantou went into the microwave to steam a little bit. The heat (we put a boiling pot of water inside) helped activate the enzymes in the yeast. Smile, Mom!

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And about an hour later, my banana cake came out of the oven! It smelled AMAZING when it was baking (thanks, vanilla extract!) and I nearly fainted when we took it out. It looked SO scrumptious! The cardboard on the right is used to protect the table from my sister’s beloved deep fryer. She spills oil everywhere!

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Then we brought it onto a cooling rack and let it cool for about 10 minutes. We should’ve waited longer, but I wanted to dig in! Warm baked goods are the best because the chocolate chips are still wet and gooey – the best.

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AHHH! I want some of this right now actually.

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Into the steamer they go!

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And then I went back to admiring the cake 🙂 We sliced it in half and then quarters (obviously LOL) and I drooled.

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A slice for me…

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With almond butter! I can’t have ANYTHING without almond butter! Like I said, this stuff is crack for me!

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Of course I made sure that I got the piece with the most chocolate chips. 😛 Then I smothered it in rich, nutty almond butter and devoured it. Here’s the recipe – and don’t forget the almond butter!

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cake

INGREDIENTS

Dry:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup spelt flour
  • ¼ cup kamut flour
  • NOTE: you can replace the above with simple 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, or a combination of whichever flours you’d like
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Scant ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Wet:

  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large overripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup sour cream // Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (optional but recommended 🙂 )

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a loaf pan or a round pan.
  3. Mix dry ingredients together. Sift if desired.
  4. Mix wet ingredients (NOT chocolate chips) and whisk well. If coconut oil solidifies, place in a big bowl of hot water and whisk some more.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry. Mix a little bit. Add half the chocolate chips and combine.  Be careful not to overmix.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and top with remaining chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then serve. Great for about a week – or you could freeze them!

My homestay student Jadee also had a piece. I’m so glad Jadee likes our baking! She got a big slice for a snack, but I’d happily eat this for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, okay basically every meal. It’s THAT good! OMG I’m going to have it crumbled on top of my oatmeal tomorrow morning – can’t wait!

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She really likes the soft texture and springiness of the cakes. Thanks for being our special baked-goods-tester, Jadee! 🙂

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Yup, I guess that’s it for now! I’ve got lots of Chemistry homework that I’ve been procrastinating (whoa, I’ve put it off for about a week now…) and I’ll be posting a SUPER awesome pesto post on Wednesday. 🙂

PS: the mantou turned out to be a fail! The water evaporated into the dough and made them all soggy and wet. They didn’t fluff up at all and were really dense and firm. We will probably mash the beans and add them to the dough next time.

Have an awesome week!

6 thoughts on “From Mantou to Banana Cake

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