I wish I could say that everything I bake comes out perfect the first time. I would be a liar if I did. Actually it often takes a few stops and starts to get a new recipe right. And today’s venture into baking was definitely an example of that.
How do you feel when you bake something for the first time and it basically flops? I used to get very frustrated and never attempt the recipe again until I learned that it is more the exception than the rule that first time ventures are actually successful. Now I view my flops as learning moments and from that point on it becomes a mission to get the recipe right. And by right I mean it has to meet the two basic criteria: it has to look good and it has to taste good. Today’s foray into baking was a taste delight that literally collapsed upon itself.
So let’s talk briefly about the recipe. Today’s recipe for Nutella Banana Bread came via Pinterest from a website called Chef-In Training. I was intrigued by the combination of combining Nutella with bananas and being that I had all the ingredients in the house decided to try it. The recipe states that this is the BEST way to make banana bread and after tasting the finished product I would have to agree. The trick is combining the ingredients in such a way that the bread doesn’t collapse unto itself. Needless to say the bread looked pretty good right out of the oven, but once I took it out of the pan the middle slowly started to sink in. At that point I was pretty frustrated but when I eventually tasted it, I knew I needed to make the effort to perfect this recipe.
So, how would I rate this recipe: A+ for flavor, B- for instructions. The recipe did indicated that the bread would look a tiny bit undercooked (because of the nutella) but I wasn’t prepared for a major collapse. I really think the amount of nutella called for in the recipe is a tad too much. Here are some lessons learned making it:
Lesson 1: Don’t give up on what may seem to be a failure. I was ready to throw the bread in the garbage but my husband sliced a bit off the end and told me it was worth tasting. I did, and this is a very delicious recipe.
Lesson 2: I need to play with the nutella amount. The recipe calls for 3/4 heaping cup of Nutella mixed with one cup of the bread mixture. I would cut that down a bit. In my opinion, the high density of the nutella was the reason for the collapse in the center of the bread. I think next time I will pare down the combination to 1/2 cup nutella and 3/4 cup of the cake mixture. You definitely need more cake mixture sans nutella to give the cake a fuller body.
Lesson 3: Get a good cake pan. I finally did. Now I need to add the disclaimer that I work part-time at Crate and Barrel. But they have a loaf pan made exclusively for them called the Pro-Line Loaf Pan. It is commercial grade and non stick. It is fabulous. I have to admit I had my doubts, but I put the batter in the pan (and this was a gooey batter with the the nutella) and once it was baked and I let it cool for about 10 minutes the cake popped right out of the pan without greasing and flouring or using sprays. Also, the cake cooked evenly and not like my old pan the cooked the edges faster than the center. My point here is, if you’re going to bake a lot, invest in good pans. They are worth the money.
Lesson 4: The recipe calls for layering the bread and nutella mixtures and then swirling them with a knife. I did that and it still did not mix the nutella into the batter they way I would have liked it. Next time I am going to do a layer of each (starting with the basic batter) swirl it and then add the next two layers and swirl again. I think that will combine the mixture better and prevent a mass of nutella from settling in any one place in the batter.
I cannot stress enough that this bread is very delicious. Once I have it perfected I will write and addendum to this with the amounts that I used that created a perfectly swirled bread that did not collapse onto itself. If you try this recipe and have more initial success than I did, let me know how you did it. But bottom line, the recipe is worth the work to perfect.