Those of you who follow me on various social media may have seen me mention over the weekend I was baking strawberry bread. A few asked for the recipe. Ask and ye shall receive!
The base recipe I started with was the Fanny Farmer Cookbook recipe for banana bread, but with a few crucial changes. Like using strawberries instead of bananas. And chocolate chips instead of walnuts. Details below:
First off, I’ve never ever made the recipe in Fanny Farmer with walnuts. I’ve never liked walnuts particularly, whereas chocolate chips? Hell yeah. Chocolate and banana go well together.
This was one of the first recipes I made out of the FF cookbook when I was in college. The book was a gift from the brother of my then-boyfriend. It’s a mass market paperback, now much falling apart and yellowed, but it’s still my preferred recipe for chocolate chip cookies (they come out much better than the recipe on the Nestle package) and of course for banana bread.
Among the things I discovered about putting chocolate chips in, is that if you don’t refrigerate the bread, the chips stay soft and melty even after the bread has returned to room temperature for a day or two! (And the loaf never lasts more than two days because it’s too delicious to let sit around.)
Now, the idea to make strawberry bread instead of banana bread came about because the strawberry harvest has been huge this year, and so we had a quart of overripe strawberries to use. I wanted to make something with them for our Fourth of July mega-picnic on the Charles River, where we go and stake out a fireworks spot starting at 12 noon, and laze around all day eating and reading and otherwise being at our leisure along the banks of the river while waiting for the other half-million people to show up. (We’re on the Cambridge side of the river, so maybe it’s only 250,000 people?) This ruled out strawberry pie — too messy to serve and eat, and I didn’t have enough strawberries anyway.
The thought of overripe fruit made me think of banana bread, though.
MACERATION. I figured strawberries are similarly fibrous to bananas, but they probably have more water in them. So to start with I quartered the berries (and hulled them/washed/etc), tossed them with a little sugar (about 2 tablespoons?) and let them sit like that in a bowl in the fridge for about 6 hours. This sucks a lot of the water out. Pour off the excess liquid from the bowl after 6 hours or overnight and you will have a nice strawberry syrup there to make cocktails or soda with.
After pouring off the liquid, I mashed the strawberries with a potato masher, just enough that there were no untouched pieces.
Beat two well-beaten eggs into the strawberry mush. Add one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 cup sugar, and two cups of all-purpose flour. No, I didn’t bother to sift it. Mix it all together with a wooden spoon and you should have a pretty pink pasty dough. Add about 3/4 cup of chocolate chips. (You could add nuts also if you like that sort of thing.)
I baked it at 350 degrees, split into two EZ-Foil disposable loaf pans (greased with butter) for 45-50 minutes, but if you put it all into one loaf pan give it more like 55. it’s done when a toothpick or skewer comes out clean. The resulting bread will be moist and dark. And yummy.
In recipe style:
two tablespoons white or brown sugar (for maceration)
3/4 white sugar
2 cups flour
1 quart strawberries
1 tsp. salt
1tsp. baking soda
scant one cup of chocolate chips
optional: chopped nuts
You need to macerate the strawberries ahead of time to pull the water out. Wash, hull, and halve or quarter them, toss with sugar, and let sit in a bowl for a few hours (or overnight). Afterward, pour out the excess liquid (and use it in something else, like strawberry cupcake frosting or a cocktail). Then mash them just enough to get them squished thoroughly, but not all the way down to a puree. You want a mass of fibrous chunks.
Preheat oven to 350 and grease either a large loaf pan or 2 medium (or three small — bread makes a great gift…). Beat two eggs well, add them and the mashed strawberries to a large mixing bowl. Beat them together. Add all the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking soda, salt) and mix it all with a wooden spoon or spatula. Once there is no dry flour, add the chocolate chips, mix to distribute them evenly, and then spread the dough into the loaf pan(s). Bake 50-55 minutes at 350 for one large loaf, 45-50 for smaller ones, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
If it turns out you want banana bread after all, it takes three, large, overripe bananas in place of the strawberries.
It’s possible this might work without the maceration step, and with just mashing the berries and pouring off what liquid might come from that. Or maybe just adding a wee bit more flour if it seems too wet. I’ll probably try that at some point when I decide I want to do this and have forgotten to macerate ahead of time. If anyone runs that experiment, please let me know!