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Milk Street Recipe

Liberian Banana-Rice Bread

1½ hours 25 minutes active, plus cooling

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Liberian Banana-Rice Bread

In Monrovia, Liberia, home cooks Sharon Mulbah and Yassah Cooper each taught us to make a local favorite, a rice-based banana bread with a moist, dense crumb that tastes of the ripe fruit and fresh ginger. Many recipes for this bread take a shortcut by using either rice flour or rice cereal, but we preferred the more rustic versions we learned in Liberia, which start with whole rice that is soaked, then finely ground in a mortar and pestle. We discovered a food processor makes quick work of this process. So that the bread bakes up properly, it’s important that the rice is ground to a very fine, almost powdery texture. A generous amount of sliced ginger is blended into the pulverized rice before oil and mashed banana are incorporated. All the mixing is done in the processor, which must have at least an 11-cup capacity to accommodate the volume of ingredients. We finish this wheat-free, egg-free cake-like loaf with a dusting of cinnamon and powdered sugar for an added layer of sweetness and spice. In an airtight container, leftovers will keep at room temperature for up to two days—and, in fact, we think the flavor and texture improve if left to stand overnight. Note that a nonstick pan requires a slightly lower oven temperature and shorter baking time than a conventional cake pan because of its darker color.

Makes one 9-inch

round

Tip

Don’t use underripe bananas. The fruit provides much of the sweetness and flavor in this bread, so be sure the bananas are well-ripened. They should be fragrant, speckled with lots of brown spots and have some give when gently pressed. And don’t mash the bananas to a completely smooth puree. Leave some chunks to add a little texture to the baked bread. Finally, don’t slice the bread until it has fully cooled or the crumb may feel a little oily.

1½ hours

25 minutes active, plus cooling

Reviews
Daniel K.

Does it have to be long grain rice?

Lynn C.

Hi Daniel -

We only tested the recipe with long-grain rice so we don't know if it will work with a short-grain rice. Jasmine or basmati rice would likely work but both have a pretty distinct flavor that would not be welcome here.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Daniel F.

I followed this recipe to a T and it just didn’t turn out right. The rice and ginger in the food processor turned into a very firm substance, which didn’t feel right. I even made sure to shake as much water as I could from the rice after soaking it. And then once it had been in the oven for 50 minutes, it still didn’t look done or browned, and the cake itself ended up having a raw center, even after cooking it for 10 more minutes. I had really high hopes for this since we’ve become a gluten-free household, but I’m just not sure I or the recipe went wrong.

Glenn G.

I had the very same experience. Mine cooked through, but the rice never broke down in the food processor and the result is more of a firm rice/banana pudding than the way your picture looks!! Not a bad taste, but not what I expected...

Janice M.

I, too, made this with high hopes as I have celiac disease and must eat gluten-free. I weighed all the ingredients for which a weight was provided, needing 9 bananas to yield 800 grams, and I processed the rice and ginger until I didn't think it would get any less gritty. Yet, my cake was a bit gritty and also uncooked in the middle. I had used a standard aluminum 9" round pan and 375 as the oven temp. The level of bite from the ginger was too much for us, and as for sweetness, my bananas were very ripe, but the cake wasn't very sweet at all. Perhaps they were just a bad bunch? After all of this, both my husband and I decided it wasn't worth the calories and we threw it away. I loved the idea of this recipe, but not the outcome. Sorry, 177milkstreet!

Michele H.

also followed the recipe to a t, weighing everything.. by weight I needed 8 bananas and more than 1/2 cup of ginger. The bread looked beautiful in the oven having risen nicely. I left it in with oven turned off so it would keep its rise but it fell flat soon after being removed from the oven. it is pretty good but strong and a little gritty. (The rice was ground to a size like semolina)..

Suzanne S.

The rice was still crunchy after 2 minutes of processing. I continued to bake it and the final loaf has crunchy rice in it, not great eating experience but really great taste to the loaf. Could you make this with rice flour instead of the raw rice?

Jeffrey B.

Without a doubt, the worst thing I have ever made. I followed directions exactly, weighed everything, and I am a very experienced cook and baker. No crunchy rice, just a bizarre texture and acrid ginger aftertaste that I think only someone starving could find pleasing. After sampling, I'm throwing the rest of it away. I wouldn't dare serve this to guests. At least the ingredients are inexpensive.

Pamela T.

I can actually get rice flour here in Japan. It’s a regular supermarket product. I wonder if a version of this recipe could be made with Japanese rice flour?? People often make regular bread with this rice flour, so some kind of banana bread could be made perhaps.

Lynn C.

Hi Pamela -

Our recipe was developed the way we learned how to make it in Liberia with freshly-ground rice. Since the ingredient amounts would likely have to be modified to account for the difference in weight and absorption of ground rice vs. rice flour, we can't recommend a rice flour substitution.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

kathleen h.

It did turn out as expected but not worth the calories.

Benjamin S.

I followed this recipe precisely and wound up with a glutinous blob. This was a rare F (#fail) from Milk Street.

Daniel B.

Why hasn’t milk steer responded to the failed comments? I too experienced an underbaked glutinous blob despite following instructions closely. I am also an experienced baker. Please update this recipe Milk Street something is not right.

Lynn C.

Hi All -

We made some updates to the headnote and Step 3 that should help clarify some of the essentials to the recipe. First, it’s important that the rice is ground to a very fine, almost powdery texture. If your food processor blade is more dull, this may take longer than it calls for in the recipe. It's more important to fully process the rice than to follow the times. Scraping in the corners of the food processor will help ensure all of it gets fully ground. Second, the food processor must have at least an 11-cup capacity to accommodate the volume of ingredients. The rice grinding and mixing steps will not work in a smaller food processor. Last, make sure to drain the rice well after soaking by shaking the strainer and removing as much excess water as possible. We are hopeful that these clarifications will ensure success.

Best,
The Milk Street Team


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