Saturday, September 25, 2010
Low(er) Fat Banana Bread
Old habits die really, really hard. It turns out that with me, procrastination always manifests itself in baking. I can't get away from it. I find it particularly hard to stay out of the kitchen when I have a looming reading assignment, or a tedious paper to write. And as a new graduate student, I am very quickly lapsing back into the ways of my undergraduate days. Thus, the result of homework assignments for me often look like this (see above picture).
I don't know if you can really make something like banana bread truly healthy unless you pare it down to just the banana, but with this recipe, I tried to make it less atrociously fattening. I replaced half the oil called for in the original recipe with my homemade applesauce, and I used olive oil instead of butter or shortening, which is the good kind of fat (monounsaturated fat). So yes - you have free license not to feel guilty about eating this one. This was also my first attempt at using chestnut flour. Chestnut flour looks a bit like sorghum, but perhaps a bit finer grind, and has a lovely nutty smell and flavor that can be a delicious addition to baked goods. A bag of it was given to me by a friend, who tried making a cake with only chestnut flour and found it to be far too overpowering. So, heeding her advice, I used only a small bit in this recipe, and I think it was a success!
And oh, my goodness, this was good. If the pictures look good, it tasted 100 times better. My apartment smelled like fresh banana bread long before it was actually done, leading to a fairly torturous 40 minute wait until it was finished baking and I could try a piece hot from the oven. It tastes just like I remember banana bread tasting, and it didn't crumble apart like so many other sad attempts at gluten-free baking. It baked beautifully all the way through, with a lovely brown crust on top and perfect moist consistency on the inside, and no mushy, forgotten wet pockets. I made mine plain, but this would be delicious with chocolate chips, nuts, or coconut mixed into the batter, too. You could even go crazy and swirl in some peanut butter or sunflower seed butter right into the bread! (Disclaimer: all of those suggestions would totally negate the effort to make this a "lower fat" banana bread - but - would make it taste even more amazing.)
So if you have a deadline coming up, this is the project for you. Set those books aside, roll up your sleeves, and start mashing some bananas.
Low(er) Fat Banana Bread
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas, mashed well
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (make sure it's gluten-free!)
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup chestnut flour (can substitute sorghum flour if desired)
2/3 cup white rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. sea salt (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
2 - 3 tbsp. non-dairy milk
Optional additional mix-ins: chocolate chips, flaked coconut, your favorite kind of nut or dried fruit
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a standard bread pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine the olive oil, applesauce, and sugar. Beat in the eggs, and then the mashed bananas until the batter is fairly smooth (your odd chunk of banana or applesauce is fine). Add the vanilla extract and stir to blend. You can beat with a handmixer, but it works just fine if you mix by hand, too!
In a separate bowl, measure the gluten-free flours and mix them together with the baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, and cinnamon (if desired) until well-blended. Add about one quarter of the flour mixture at a time to the wet ingredients, stirring well each time. Finally, add 2 - 3 tablespoons of non-dairy milk (I used Trader Joe's Organic Whole Grain Drink) and mix well.
Pour the batter into the bread pan and place in the oven immediately. Bake for about 1 hour, but start checking it after 45 minutes to see if it is done (ovens may be hotter than the temperature you set them for!). When a toothpick or knife comes out of the tallest part of the loaf clean, it's done!
Serve warm or chilled. With gluten-free baked goods, you will usually preserve the freshness better by freezing individual slices and then defrosting/reheating as needed.
Tip: If you like peanut butter, there is probably no better snack than peanut butter on banana bread!