Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Feel-Good Banana Bread

Banana bread was one of the first things I learned to bake, was one of the first recipes I veganized, and remains one of my favorite comfort foods. However, it is not perfect... until now. As much as I love it, and despite the fact that it contains a substantial amount of fruit, it is usually not health food. Most recipes call for quite a bit of butter/margarine, white flour, and sugar. I've been playing with my recipe in an effort to make something that is both tasty and does not make me feel gross and I think I've got it, finally. I named it thusly because it makes your mouth and your body happy.

Feel-Good Banana Bread
This recipe makes two loaves. You can half it, but I always just make a double batch and either freeze one until we are ready for it, or gift it.

2 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup toasted oat bran
1/3 cup raw wheat germ
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
6-7 medium, very ripe bananas, mashed well
6 oz plain soy yogurt
1/4 cup light oil (I used 2 tbsp each of plain and toasted walnut oil) or melted earth balance
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup ground flax
1/2 cup water

Adjust the rack of your oven to the lower middle position and preheat to 350. Grease and flour two loaf pans (I use Baker's Joy).

Mix together all your dry ingredients, flour through salt, in a large bowl and set aside.

Mix the ground flax and water in a small bowl and set aside while you mix the rest of the wet ingredients. Mix yogurt into mashed bananas in a medium bowl (if you do this immediately after mashing the bananas they won't oxidize). Mix in oil, applesauce, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. Beat flax and water mixture with a whisk for a minute or so to build up the viscosity then add to banana mixture and mix until fairly uniform (you will still have small chunks of banana).

Pour the wet mixture into the dry and fold together just until combined; a few streaks of flour are okay, it's more important to not over mix. Divide evenly between the two loaf pans (since my loaf pans are identical I use my kitchen scale for this so I am really sure it is as even as possible).

Bake about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean, a few moist crumbs are ideal. This bread browns very easily so keep and eye on it and cover lightly with a foil tent when it looks good, I did this about half way though the baking time.

Cool in pan 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or let cool completely and then store in refrigerator if you are going to eat it quickly or well-wrapped in the freezer for longer storage.

This is yummy with a shmear of Earth Balance, which is B's preferred way of consuming it, but it is so moist on it's own that it is really just gilding the lily.

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