Washington State Chef's
Member Spotlight - August 2023
Chef Michael Silver
Chef Michael Silver is food science instructor at Seattle Central College and also co-owns and operates a café / bakery, two chocolate manufacturing companies, and a technology company. He is also a ServSafe instructor and a Red Cross instructor.
Michael received his culinary training from the CIA (ACAP) and his baking and pastry training from the Seattle Culinary Academy (AAS). Michael also has a business degree, and his professional career includes math, music, computer science, molecular biology, technology, construction, emergency medicine, and motorsports. He has co-authored a number of technology patents. For his contributions to NASA on several projects (including his work in the space program) he was made an honorary Air Force Captain.
Michael founded and runs a 501(c)(3) non-profit, Silver Linings, that has been in operation for over 25 years. Part of its current mission is the development of Chef’s Village, a website for teaching about food, cooking, baking, sustainability, food science, and related areas. His non-profit also works in areas of food security, food apartheid, and sustainability.
View his favorite recipe below…
Banana Bread with Caramel Ice Cream
This is my daughter’s favorite dessert that I make, and she encouraged me to share this recipe with all of you. The banana bread recipe is based on one from Cook’s Illustrated, from around 2010 with some modifications. The caramel ice cream recipe is one I developed for my food science class. It combines my foolproof caramel and crème Anglaise methods, both of which can be used for many other purposes.
- 100g water
- 165g sugar
- 510g heavy cream
- 170g milk
- 6 large yolks
- Large pinch of salt (optional)
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
- Caramelize the sugar by putting water first into a saucepan* and then putting the sugar into the middle of the pan. Gently poke the sugar with your finger to fully hydrate it. It does not need to be stirred at all, just wet. But keep the sugar in the center of the pan (like an island). Do not allow the sugar granules to reach the edges of the pan, as this can cause crystallization. * Note: a saucier works best for this recipe.
- Heat on medium until caramel is medium-dark. Do not stir, but you can swirl the pan a little if needed. You don’t have to worry about carryover cooking, so get it to the color you like. The darker, the more flavorful, but don’t allow it to get too dark or it will be bitter.
- While the caramel is cooking, scale your milk and cream into a pint container that is easy to pour from. When the caramel is perfect, pour the milk/cream into the pan all at once and deglaze the sugar, then take it off the heat and stir until the caramel is fully dissolved (this may take a while, but just stir occasionally until all the sugar is fully dissolved). By the time all the sugar is dissolved the mixture will be warm but not hot, which is what we want.
- Add the yolks (and the optional large pinch of salt) and whisk gently to fully homogenize the mixture (a few bubbles won’t hurt anything, but we’re not creating a foam). Cook, stirring constantly, to 185°F. This step is crucial to success. You can use a whisk or a silicone spatula to stir. Just be sure to scrape the bottom and especially the edges of the pan so none of the base sticks and cooks too much or burns. If you are persistent with your stirring, you will get a perfectly smooth Anglaise with no need to temper or to strain afterwards. An induction burner is better for custards as gas (especially commercial) can heat the sides of the pan too much. If using gas, try to keep the flame on the bottom of the pan and not up the sides.
- As soon as you reach 185°F, take the Anglaise off the heat and continue to stir to remove the remaining heat from the pan. Then mix in the vanilla. (If you want to use beans instead of extract, scrape and put in the pods after sugar is fully dissolved and before heating, then remove pods before processing. I would suggest 1 – 2 vanilla pods for this recipe, depending on size and freshness).
- You can process the ice cream by any method you’d like (traditional ice cream maker, PacoJet, liquid nitrogen, etc.). If you want you can age the base before processing, but this is not necessary. You can serve the ice cream immediately or freeze it a bit depending on your method and how soft you like it.
Banana Bread Formula:
- 250g AP flour
- 6g (1 tsp) baking soda
- 3g (1 tsp Diamond Crystal) kosher salt (or other pure salt by weight)
- 820g very ripe bananas
- 113g unsalted butter + butter for pan
- 2 large eggs
- 150g light brown sugar
- 5g (1 tsp) vanilla extract
- 60g walnuts (chopped)
- 15g granulated sugar
Banana Bread Method:
- Peel and freeze bananas at least one day in advance.
- Heat oven to 350°F with the rack set to the middle.
- Toast chopped walnuts (about five minutes).
- Melt butter and let cool but remain liquid.
- Coat loaf pan (8½ by 4½-inch or so) with a skin of butter.
- Sift flour, baking soda, and salt in large mixing bowl.
- Let bananas thaw to room temp then put into glass bowl covered with plastic (poke a few holes in the plastic for steam) and microwave on high for about 8-10 minutes until they are very hot and steaming. You can go straight from the freezer to the microwave, but it takes more time and needs occasional mixing to distribute the heat.
- Put bananas into a mesh strainer over a pot and work with a spatula to turn them into a mush and release liquid. Allow to sit, occasionally stirring, until most of the free liquid has released (10-15 minutes). You should have about 3/4 cup of liquid. Remove strainer with bananas and cook the liquid down to about 1/4 cup.
- Next, mix the bananas back into the liquid and whisk in the brown sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Then mix wet and dry until just combined. Do not over-mix.
- Gently fold in walnuts. Spread batter evenly in loaf pan and cover with even sprinkling of sugar.
- Bake about an hour until cake tester (skewer etc.) comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and continue to cool on rack until serving temperature (warm or room temperature).
- Serve with caramel ice cream and enjoy!
- Storage: left-over banana bread can be kept at room temperature for several days if well-sealed. Leftover ice cream should be dropped off at my house.