Lately, I’ve been experimenting with Thai ingredients by incorporating flavors like ginger, lemongrass, and coconut milk into recipes where they normally wouldn’t be found. Key lime pie with topped with whipped coconut cream and kaffir lime or vanilla ice cream made with a base of lemongrass-infused coconut milk. The combination of spicy ginger and lemongrass or the smooth buttery flavor of the coconut milk pairs really well in pies, cakes, and ice creams.
I’ve also done a lot of testing with infusing herbs and spices into caramel. My favorite so far has been the lemongrass caramel, which has a citrus, floral quality to it. Since lemongrass goes so well with coconut and tropical fruits, I thought it might taste nice on some banana bread.
I adapted a recipe from Tartine for a banana date tea cake and topped it with the caramel. I could probably spend some more time tweaking the caramel, but screw that. It’s banana bread with caramel. It’s good enough by default.
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 142 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
- 10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder
- 5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda
- 7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) vanilla extract
- 2 ml (1/2 tsp) kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 255 g (1 cup) mashed ripe bananas – about 3 medium
- 3 oz (6 tbsp) butter
- 150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
- 1 banana – sliced lengthwise
Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda. In a second bowl, add mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla, salt and stir well to mix.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until light and creamy. Slowly add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the banana mixture and beat on low until incorporated.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients into the banana mixture. Scrape down the sides to ensure all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Split a banana in half lengthwise and press into the top of the batter.
Bake until a tester inserted into the center of bread comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan to release the bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely. When cool, pour caramel over banana bread.
- 5 1/2 oz/150 ml (2/3 cup) heavy cream
- 1/4 cup of lemongrass – chopped
- 8 1/2 oz/240 g (1 1/4 cup) sugar
- 2 oz/60 ml (1/4 cup) water
- pinch of kosher salt
- 30 ml (2 tbsp) light corn syrup
- 4 ml (3/4 tsp) lemon juice
- 2 oz/55 g (4 tbsp) unsalted butter – cut into 1″ pieces
Pour the cream into a small, heavy saucepan and add the lemongrass. Place over medium-high heat and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low to keep the cream warm.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, salt, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then cook, without stirring, until the mixture is amber colored, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
Carefully and strain the cream into the sugar syrup. The mixture will boil vigorously at first. Don’t burn yourself. Whisk until smooth.
Add the lemon juice. Let cool for 10 minutes. When the caramel is ready, whisk in one piece of butter at a time until fully incorporated.