Banana Bread

We often make banana bread because we have nearly spoiled bananas. When we have those bananas covered with black spots we think ourselves, “I could just throw these bananas away…but, naw, I’ll put them in the freezer until I forget about them and then in a few months I’ll make a banana bread with freezer burnt bananas that thawed out into basically slime.” Inevitably, the bread is dense, way too bananay, it’s gummy in some parts, tough in the other, and the crust is overcooked.

Banana bread doesn’t have to be a disappointment. It can be a planned baking event rather than an afterthought. Most banana bread recipes are loaded with sugar and oil, but you think that’s it’s a healthy option because the title says Banana. Really most of the recipes out there are a dessert masked with a Banana title. No problem with desserts, they are delicious and wonderful, but let’s call a spade a spade when we see one. Am’i’right. There is a secret to making great banana bread, and guess what, it’s not about the ingredients, it’s about the prep work and the process.


Better Banana Bread

This recipe is for a moist, flavorful, vegan banana bread. The ingredients are fairly standard with a couple vegan substitutes, but it’s the process and the tips that are worth the read. Why bake it in a Bundt pan? Well, you’ll have to read on to find out!
Servings – 12 big slices

Equipment

  • Bundt pan

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur )
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (Vietnamese or Saigon is best)
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (Use fresh ground if possible)
  • 2 Tbl ground flax seeds
  • 4 Tbl water (Mix with flax and set aside)
  • 5 medium bananas (Half overripe and half ripe but yellow)
  • 1 Tbl fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup oat milk (or any milk)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil (I use Earth Balance)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Optional: 1/2 cup pecans (rough chopped or fine chop)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Thoroughly spray the inside of a 12-14 cup Bundt pan with oil. Optional: after oiling, sprinkle a little sugar into the pan and add the chopped pecans to the bottom (will be the top).
  • In a small bowl, mix together the ground flax and water. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, use a potato masher or pastry cutter to mash the bananas. They should be mostly mashed with very few large pieces. You can also use a stand mixer for this part.
  • Melt the butter. Add the maple syrup, oat milk, melted butter, fresh ginger, and vanilla to the mashed bananas. Mix well. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking power, salt, cinnamon, ginger powder, and ground nutmeg. Whisk for longer than you think you need to. The baking powder needs to be evenly distributed for an even rise.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet ingredients, not the soaked flax yet. Use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Stop once it is mostly mixed and only some dry is visible.
  • Fold in the soaked flax. If you are adding nuts, seeds, or dried fruit this is the stage to do so. No dry ingredients should be visible, but stop folding as soon as they are gone. Be careful to not overmix your batter. Overmixing creates gluten which makes your bread tough and too dense.
  • Spoon the batter into your prepared Bundt pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes. A cake tester or toothpick should come out clean. If you have baking thermometer, the center should be at least 195 F.
  • Remove from oven and let cake sit in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Store covered or well wrapped on the counter for up to 5 days or freeze for longer term storage. Refrigerating your breads dry them out.

Notes

Don’t use a stand mixer for your batters, especially ones that are low sugar and low fat. The more you mix wheat based flours the more you develop gluten. Sugar and fat (oil/butter) are gluten inhibitors, so if you’re using less of them it’s easy to overmix your batter. You will have lighter and fluffier cakes if you mix your batter with a spatula. 
Why the Bundt pan? Two main reasons: if it looks like a dessert you’ll feel like you’re having dessert. Is this a healthy recipe? Who cares. It’s just more fun to eat things that look and feel like dessert. Also, it’s more visually appealing than a square of brown boring.
The second reason is that your banana bread will cook more thoroughly, because the bread isn’t spread as wide as a loaf pan. This takes care of the problem of a darkly cooked exterior with a still mushy center.
Can you use this recipe for a loaf pan? Absolutely, and I do, but it really makes a big difference to make it in a Bundt pan. I suggest a 12-14 cup one, but you could even use a 8 cup pan.  
Why add rye? You can skip the rye and substitute for all purpose flour or wheat, but rye adds a slight nuttiness to your bread and more complexity. Why the chickpea flour? You can skip that without a substitution if you’d like. However, it adds some protein to your bread. 

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