You’ve seen one banana bread recipe, you’ve seen ’em all, right? Okay, that was a lie– a big, fat, terrible, vicious lie. While a classic banana bread is perfectly scrumptious, I’ve found that my favorite recipes are the ones with a complementary flavor woven in, particular this peanut butter-chocolate version. I have not minced words about my feelings on bananas in the past, but I’m so happy that I’ve been able to transcend that aversion to appreciate — adore, even! — banana bread. So when I saw this Double Sesame Banana Bread posted on Lottie + Doof, I knew I had to drop everything and bust out the tahini!
I’m sorry, tahini?… really?? Friends, believe me when I tell you that bananas and tahini were meant for each other. Tahini is having a moment, and I sincerely hope it continues to wend its way into bakers’ hearts; I have a particular affinity for it because my roots are in Israel, where tahini is ubiquitous in the regional cuisine. I’m thrilled that so many recent cookbooks are highlighting the versatility of tahini, such as Breaking Breads and Molly on the Range. Tahini is raw sesame paste, an integral ingredient in something that is now in many American grocery stores: hummus. It is also the base of tahini sauce, which is quite different than the raw paste form. Prepared tahini sauce is drizzled on every decent falafel sandwich; if you’re eating falafel without it, you’re doing it wrong. It can also be found in salad dressings, dipping sauces, and a surprising number of baked goods. Tahini is sold in jars or tins and keeps for quite a long time in the fridge– it’s a great ingredient to have around. Try to use a high-quality product– I used Seed+Mill from Chelsea Market in New York for this recipe, and I also like Soom, which I can occasionally find here in the San Francisco Bay Area; there are now very good products at markets like Whole Foods as well. Most importantly, make sure it’s pure tahini paste without any additives. I refer to the sesame here as double because in addition to the tahini are whole sesame seeds, both white and black. They are mixed into the batter and sprinkled on top, so the sesame flavor is quite present.
While this recipe is very easy, figuring out the different versions of it was a little confusing. I originally found it on Lottie + Doof, but they referenced two sources: Bon Appétit and Opening Ceremony; the original recipe is from El Rey Luncheonette in New York City. Trouble is, the ingredients were listed quite differently in the two source recipes, with both offering some desirable elements, as well as some confusion. I liked the BA recipe for its better organization and the OC recipe for its use of weight rather than volume measurements. The latter was written a bit haphazardly (ingredients not listed in order, etc.) and the weights were so exact and specific– I thought it would be more user-friendly to round them to the nearest 5 grams. Yet (as pointed out by L + D), some of the BA ingredients were nonsensical– brown sugar “lightly packed”?! What the frak does that mean?? I ended up combining parts of both versions, and I was so pleased with the results. This banana bread is incredibly moist and delicious! The banana and sesame flavors melded perfectly, I suspect because sesame takes on a flavor similar to peanut butter.
One of my baking goals for 2017: I’m excited to dive into lots of tahini-based recipes!
For the bread:
- 215 grams (1¾ cups + 1 tablespoon) cake flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 115 grams (½ cup) canola or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons tahini (pure sesame paste)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 4 very ripe bananas (490 grams banana purée), fresh or thawed from the freezer
- 300 grams (1⅓ cups + 1 tablespoon) firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 45 grams (⅓ cup) toasted white sesame seeds, divided
- 30 grams (3 tablespoons) raw black sesame seeds, divided
For the topping:
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
Preheat an oven to 325°F. Grease a 9 x 5″ loaf pan and line it with parchment paper so that it overhangs on the long sides, or set out 6-10 mini loaf pans/papers on a baking sheet. (I used paper pans about 4×2″ made for gifting, which yielded 10 mini loaves. If using metal pans, make sure to grease them.)
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
Whisk the eggs, oil, tahini, and vanilla paste in a large bowl. Blend the bananas in a food processor to a smooth purée, or mash them with a large spoon if they’re soft enough. Whisk the brown sugar and banana mash until the oil mixture until well blended.
Next whisk in the flour mixture until barely combined; it’s okay to have a few flour streaks. Fold in the white and black sesame seeds with a rubber spatula. The batter is fairly thin.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan (or scoop it into the mini pans with a spring-loaded ice cream scoop) and sprinkle the top(s) with the remaining white and black sesame seeds. Bake the banana bread until a toothpick inserted into the center(s) comes out clean, 60–70 minutes for a large loaf or 33-38 minutes for mini loaves. Let the bread cool completely in the pan(s) set over a wire cooling rack, then pull it up using the parchment paper (or invert the mini loaves from their pans).
The banana bread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2017.