Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Morning treat: spiced banana bread

While I was produce shopping the other day at the local market, I came across a bin of brown-speckled bananas with a sign on the front-- 3lbs for 75¢!! Immediately, thoughts of banana bread went flashing through my head--think of all the loaves I could make with those unwanted bananas.
But then I was reminded that I never actually end up baking bread.  Whenever my family happened to let bananas ripen past the point of cereal-worthiness, my mom would predictably say something like, "those bananas are perfect for banana bread," and my sister and I would agree, saying how much we loved banana bread, especially in the mornings, toasted with some butter.  But then, the days went by, until the bananas had no trace of yellow and had gained a following of fruit flies, crushing any hope of waking up to the deliciously sweet smell of banana bread baking in the oven.  I made a promise to myself that I would not let these bananas suffer such a fate as the ones before and I would run home and bake banana bread immediately.
Well, good thing I had several pounds of bananas on hand--all those years of not baking bread really showed.  The first loaf I made was from a recipe that left me with overly-moist banana bread.  Plus, it was unnecessarily loaded with white sugar and I'm the kind of girl who prefers her banana bread on the healthier side--that way I can enjoy it with my morning coffee without feeling like I'm eating dessert.  So, I ventured out on making another banana bread with no egg and no sugar and it was too dry (shocking, I know).  I tried again with more maple syrup and a few tablespoons of soy milk--better but still too dry.  Well, turns out the 4th time's a charm in my case... this banana bread has no egg and no sugar and it's absolutely delectable.

This bread is perfect in the morning with some coffee and the newspaper.  It's not too sweet and has the perfect consistency for toasting and smearing on a little butter. 
I added a bit of whole ground flaxseed meal, which gives the bread a subtle nutty flavor that combines nicely with the spices.  Flaxseed meal is also a home-run for your heart as it is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which studies have indicated helps to prevent hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries.  Along with being rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, flaxseed also contains high levels of lignans, which are natural antioxidants that may help protect against certain cancers by interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells.  The health benefits of flaxseed go on and on--if you are interested you can read more about them here, here, and here.  That said, if you don't have any ground flaxseed, don't sweat it.  The banana bread will still be delicious without it.

Spiced Banana Bread

3-4 super ripe bananas
1/3 c. organic applesauce (make sure there are no additives in your applesauce)
3/4 c. real maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Sift the baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, and flaxseed meal into a bowl, pouring back into the bowl any ingredients that may remain in the sifter. In a separate large bowl, mash bananas and applesauce together.  Add maple syrup, vanilla, and spices and mix with a wooden spoon.  Stir the dry ingredients into the banana mixture and mix until all ingredients are combined.  Pour batter into a lightly greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean from the center of the bread.  Allow to cool for ten minutes before removing from pan.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  This bread should keep nicely for 2-3 days if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, but I'll warn you, our banana bread lasted all of twelve hours before there was nothing left but the crumbs.

Note: Like I said, you can always leave out the flaxseed meal if you don't have any in the house. You can also substitute unbleached all-purpose flour if you don't have white whole wheat flour.

3 comments:

  1. Hey Liz! Wanted to let you know I love your blog! It's so great to see what you're doing : ) I hope you're doing well and I'll be stopping by often for some cooking and baking ideas.

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  2. Thanks Aubre!! I've been reading your blog too, it has made me laugh out loud several times...plus I love the photos! And as someone who is moving to Philly in the fall, I love the little tidbits about the city. I hope you're doing well too!!

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  3. yay!
    yay!
    yay!!!!!!!!

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