This banana bread uses the peel and flesh of the fruit; freezing and thawing renders it tender enough to be pureed, giving the bread extra banana flavor and cutting down on waste while being otherwise undetectable.
The recipe is based on one from Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, Mich., which has reduced its compost dramatically by including the peels in the thousands of loaves it sells every month. We added black sesame seeds and walnuts for even more texture and flavor.
Don’t Peel Your Banana Bread
Adapted from a recipe by Zingerman’s Bakehouse at bakewithzing.com.
2 large organic bananas (at least 12 ounces/340 grams total), mottled with black spots and well scrubbed
10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the pan
1 ½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons black sesame seeds, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup walnut halves
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
Wash the bananas, cut off both ends and freeze them at least 8 hours, or overnight. Defrost at room temperature for at least 3 hours or in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. As the banana defrosts, it will turn dark brown or black.
Position a baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Grease an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with butter or cooking oil spray, then line with parchment paper, leaving at least 1 inch of overhang on each of the long sides; grease or spray the parchment.
Weigh the bananas; you want 11.2 ounces (320 grams). Cut off any extra and refreeze for another use. In a food processor, puree the bananas and peels until smooth. (You might see tiny dark specks of the peel; that’s OK.)
Transfer the puree to a large bowl. Add the granulated sugar, melted butter, eggs and vanilla and stir to mix well.
In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, 4 tablespoons of black sesame seeds, the baking soda and salt until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and stir just enough to incorporate, scraping down the bowl and spoon with a rubber spatula and stirring in any streaks. Fold in the walnuts.
Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds and the turbinado sugar.
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the top is deeply browned.
Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then use parchment paper to gently lift it out and transfer to a cooling rack. Serve the slices warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 16 servings (makes one 8-by-4-inch loaf)