Saturday, April 9, 2011

Banana Bread Test Results

I won't keep you hanging for days over this one...                                                                                                                            
L to R: All-Purpose, Hard White Wheat, Soft White Wheat
The loaves finished as they started, with the one using all-purpose flour rising the highest.  That one also seemed to stay lightest colored, inside and out.  I can understand the inside looking lighter, but am not sure why the whole grain loaves were darker, as it was more than just a color difference of the flours and resulting batters.  
If I didn't know better, I would have suspected them of having a higher sugar content from the way they browned.                                                                                                                                           
The crumb and texture, as I first cut the loaves and surveyed them, visually, seemed good on all.  The one made of hard white wheat looked like it might be a little grainier...Not in a gritty way, but looked like it had more fiber or bran in it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                
My taste-testers lined up as soon as the loaves had cooled their hour, and we began the critique.  The general consensus:                                                                       
All-Purpose:  Good.  The texture was just slightly more solid and, perhaps, rubbery than the rest.  That sounds like a big negative, but I was the only one who seemed to find this at all displeasing.  Some actually preferred it for that reason.                                                                                                                     
Hard White Wheat:  This was everyone's least favorite.  It wasn't bad, but the texture was slightly harder or drier.  Prince Go-for-it thought the flavor was also deficient, but he was the only one.                                                                                                                                                         
Soft White Wheat: This was the most delicate and light.  I thought it best for that reason, but some of the others thought it was 'too fluffy' compared to the all-purpose loaf.  Later when I tried to cut more slices, the loaf proved to be more delicate, and started to crumble slightly on the corners if held too firmly.                                                                                                                                                    
Overall, I believe that if we weren't doing a side-by-side comparison, no one would turn their noses up at any of these breads.  All were perfectly acceptable.                                                                                                                                      
I'm quite sure that if I insist on making banana bread with either of the whole grain flours, it will disappear just as quickly as a batch made with all-purpose flour.  If I have the soft wheat, I'll choose that, but won't feel too badly about using the hard wheat.  Either way, my family gets the benefits of whole grain (higher protein level, all of the natural vitamins, minerals, and fiber), which makes them a far better nutritional choice than using the all-purpose.  For guests or gifts, I might mix flours to see if I can get a nicer rise and prettier loaf, like I got from the all-purpose...Because I'm a little bit shallow that way.
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