When I had to create a banana bread recipe for a baking magazine, I realized that banana bread is the perfect vehicle for the heat of pepper or chile. Both add excitement to the comforting loaf, which is flavorful and hearty enough to round out the heat of pepper and chile. I always seem to have a lot of overripe bananas around, so I often find myself doubling the recipe and serving one loaf right away and freezing the other loaf for another day. If you prefer, you can scoop the batter into a well-greased or paper-lined standard muffin tin to make a dozen muffins; bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Or you can make three dozen mini muffins, which only take about 18 minutes to bake.
Makes one 9 x 5-inch loaf
For the spice blend:
- 1 teaspoon green cardamom pods
- 1/4 teaspoon Muntok white peppercorns
- 1 1/4 teaspoons poppy seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably Vietnamese
For the banana bread:
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) salted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup mashed overripe bananas (from 2 large or 3 medium bananas)
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup labne or plain whole milk Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Finely grind the cardamom and peppercorns together and immediately mix with the whole poppy seeds and cinnamon.
To make the bread: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, and spice mix in a small bowl. Beat 1/2 cup butter and the brown sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed just until well combined and then raise the speed to medium-high and beat until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the bananas, eggs, labne, and vanilla. Beat on medium-low speed until thoroughly mixed. It’s okay if the mixture looks broken. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
With the machine running on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture. Beat just until the flour is incorporated, scraping the bowl as needed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 45–50 minutes.
Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then turn it out, discard the parchment, and cool completely on the rack.
The banana bread will keep, tightly wrapped with plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer in an airtight freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw before serving (I like to toast the slices too).
Recipe reprinted from “Mastering Spice,” copyright 2019 by Lior Lev Sercarz. Photographs copyright 2019 by Thomas Schauer. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.