Duke Parents' Weekend Road Trip: Sara's Banana Yeast Bread

Last year at this time most of my posts were either recipes found and suggested by Sara or something I whipped up with her in mind since most often it was just the two of us to be fed.  Fast forward to the present and now it's often just me to be fed.  That's super exciting.  Well, not really.  We are two tailgates and just three weeks away from Thanksgiving weekend and my kitchen will be full again cooking and baking for my biggest tailgate ever (Greg's 50th b-day is the Iowa game day) and whatever my college girls have been missing and want while they are home.  

I have visited Duke twice this fall and both times packed a loaf of banana yeast bread for Sara to snack on in dear old Southgate, her vintage dorm.  I can't take her roasted vegetables, squash and grilled chicken (what she misses the most), but the bread even survived an overnight bag plane trip.  The recipe is courtesy of King Arthur Flour and makes a nice sandwich-size loaf of bread with a subtle banana flavor perfect for toast, peanut butter sandwiches and just snacking.  I use my trusty bread machine to mix, knead and rise the dough.  I bake the loaf in my new King Arthur Flour pan (corrugated aluminum, best bread pan ever) in the oven.  If your kitchen is similarly equipped give it a try (or go for it and knead away in your mixer or by hand).
banana yeast bread

A few travelogue words before I post the recipe.  I'm pretty sure I could live in North Carolina, it is as lovely as advertised.  We drove down with nothing but drizzly rain until we were about two hours from Duke.  Then the sun broke through and warmed up the pretty Carolina blue sky to the mid-70's.  The Friday and Saturday forecast called for temperatures in the 40's and rain (and for once the forecast was dead-on), so we took full advantage and ate outside at Blue Corn on Ninth Street (just off the Freshman campus with a bit of an upscale Broad Ripple vibe for my Indy friends).  Too dark outside for pictures, but everyone's Central/South American everything was amazing.  Sara's zippy in her boot (long story, but she had an unfortunate and painful incident involving a reckless dorm-mate flying out the heavy front door and her unsuspecting bare toes on the other side) and she led us on a fun insider's tour of the main campus after dark.  

the Great Hall (yes,  Hogwarts looks a bit like it)

Friday we dressed for the weather and picked up Sara after class for a brew-pub lunch at Tyler's in the American Tobacco Campus which would be so fun on a pretty evening.  Tyler's is famous for their garlic fries and when you open their door, you know why.  Sara and I built are own turkey burgers (their barbecue sauce is a must) and Greg had a southern version of a grilled Cuban sandwich (pulled pork, country ham, pickles and etc).  Fueled up, we headed back to campus for a trip highlight:  another Sara-led tour, but this one took us behind the scenes in Duke's basketball arena (aka Cameron Indoor Stadium) during a closed practice.  She introduced us to the staff in the Sports Information office so we could confirm that she does, indeed, have the best work-study job on campus.  

No worries, we only peeked for a second

blustery day in K-ville

Saturday was all-sports day with an indoor tailgate (Greg's highlight:  beer on tap included in the lunch price), Duke giving Virginia Tech almost all it could handle in an exciting 14-10 football game (Va Tech was ranked 11th so we were all pleasantly surprised the game was that close) and the bucket-list event of the weekend:  Duke basketball exhibition game v. Bellarmine in the student section.  Sara and her pals slept outside on the concrete weeks before to get the tickets.  We stood on the wooden bleachers for the entire game soaking in the student experience from seven rows from the floor at the top of the key.  Cameron Crazies truly earn their reputation.  Greg and I shared a little moment of disbelief as we started to cheer in our full Duke gear.  It's all good, but we never imagined actually cheering for the school formerly known around our house as "Puke".  

indoor tailgate:  please also note the ham biscuit

Sara and her Southgate friends (minus one who was cheering)

wait, that's not old gold and black
Sunday we had another foodie excursion and enjoyed breakfast at Foster's Market.  Oh my goodness.  That Sarah Foster cooks, bakes and serves with true Southern style.  So good that I had the egg-white omelet special and I truly do not eat eggs where I can see their egg-i-ness.  Had to make an exception for an omelet filled with field greens and pimento cheese and topped with tomato jam.  Grabbed a ginger molasses cookie and a pumpkin whoopie pie for the road.  One last activity brought the whole weekend home with three pews full of Sara's awesome new friends and their lovely families at the very impressive  Duke Chapel.  She is truly at home in Durham.  A whole campus full of her people.  Bright, witty and interesting characters at every turn.  Purdue's a perfect fit for Kelly and Sara's right where she belongs at Duke.  Warm, fuzzy parental feelings....

the famous version of my famous crumb cake

my omelet at Foster's Market

Sara's Belltower pals outside of chapel

Right, well there's a recipe here somewhere.  Thanks for reading and happy baking!

Sara's Banana Yeast Bread

1 C lukewarm milk
2 C unbleached bread flour
1 C whole wheat flour
2 T butter at room temperature
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
2 T honey
3/4 C chunks of ripe bananas (1-2 bananas)

Proof yeast:  stir yeast into 2 T of the warm milk for 10 minutes before beginning the rest of the recipe.
In bread machine pan, combine all ingredients and run dough setting.  Check dough for additional flour before kneading cycle ends.  
Alternately, mix dough in an electric mixer to form a shaggy dough and then knead by mixer for 5 minutes, or knead by hand for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth.  Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let it rest and rise for one hour.
Place dough in a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan and cover with a tea towel to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to one hour or until full and rounded. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake bread for 35-40 minutes (you can use an instant-read thermometer to check the center for doneness or 190 degrees), tent loaf with foil if browning too quickly.  


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