Chocolate, plantains,sugar, rum and pecans -- what's not to like? I am incapable of looking at these items without considering their origins. These commonplace foodstuffs were part of the self-propelling engine that was the Slave Trade which went roughly like this: baubles and trinkets to Africa>Africans to the "New" World to cultivate sugar>sugar, rum and slaves to the Colonies>tobacco, chocolate, pecans, sugar & rum to Europe>baubles & trinkets to Africa...
It seems I always have 2 or 3 plantains in various stages of ripeness hanging about in my kitchen, hence this post. This bread, to quote my Tuscan-American friend, Mary, "è una fantasia mia". I am positive that at some point along the Triangle it occured to someone to put these ingredients together. It just may have not been exactly like this recipe. I calculate this bread could have been baked on the upward swing of the Triangle -- possibly in a communal oven in Mexico with its indigenous chocolate and vanilla ; or in Pensacola, Florida, where they had access to personal ovens, chocolate, rum, pecans, vanilla, cloves and black pepper; or in good old Liverpool, the end of the Triangle, where they had access to all of the "Old" World and "New" World ingredients as cloves and black pepper. On one of those legs of the trip someone may have thrown several stems of plantains in the hold of a ship for ballast. I'm just saying...!Back then the flour was probably weevily, the plantains were certainly black-ripe, the sugar was a little lumpier and the rum more than likely made it into the baker before it ever got into the bread.
Triangular Trade Bread
1.5 cups Sugar
.5 lb Butter
1.25 lb Black-ripe plantains, smashed
1 Tb. Vanilla
1 cup Emmer flour
4 cups Unbleached flour
1/2 cup Valrhona cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 tsp. Cloves, ground
1/8 tsp. Black pepper, coarsely ground
1 tsp. Baking soda
2 tsp. Baking powder (I want it to rise, dammit!)
1 tsp. Salt
3 cups Pecans, roughly chopped
2 Tb. Cocoa nibs
1/2 cup Powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup Valrhona cocoa powder, sifted
4 Tb. White rum
Cream butter and sugar in a mixer for five minutes until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. While the butter and sugar are being creamed, gather the dry ingredients. Add the smushed plantains and the vanilla. With the mixer on low add the dry ingredients. Add the pecans and cocoa nibs. Pour into two prepared (buttered and floured) loaf pans and bake in a 350˚ oven for one hour or until a skewer inserted into the highest part of the bread comes out clean.
While the bread is baking, mix the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt and rum until it is smooth and creamy. When the bread is done and while it is still hot, poke holes into the bread with a skewer and spoon the glaze over it. Let cool.