Monday, February 2, 2009

Fabulous Banana Bread...finally!

So for my first post on this blog of mine, I have decided to share my recipe (yes, my recipe--a big deal, because I don't think I have ever actually written a recipe before) for fabulous gluten-free banana bread. Now banana bread is one of my very favorite baked goods, and even before going gluten-free, it seemed like I was constantly searching for a better recipe...every one I tried seemed to have too much of one thing, or be missing something else. To me, the perfect banana bread is exceptionally moist and dense, flecked with walnuts, and sublty tasting of sweet bananas and spicy cinnamon. Oh yum--that sounds so wonderful, especially topped with a smear of deep yellow butter! Anyway, I had begun to think that I would never find a recipe that lived up to my dream loaf, and after discovering that I could no longer eat wheat, I thought I would surely need to simply lower my standards if I was ever to eat my beloved treat again.

I tried some other recipes, only to be sorely disappointed each time...and each time my hopes sinking lower and lower. It was especially difficult to find a recipe because I did not have teff, millet, sweet rice, quinoa, or fava bean flour in my cupboard--I am a bit more simple than that. One thing that I have an issue with, concerning gluten-free baking, is that most of the recipes out there call for seven different kinds of flour, plus some kind of starch--and don't forget the xanthan gum! I am not okay with having that many different kinds of flour taking up space in my cupboard--nor do I have the money to buy them all! As a result, my goal, in the next year or so, is to experiment with and discover a few different flours (like maybe four or so) and base my recipes on those only. I want these flours to be nutritious, as well as versalite, so that I can utilize them in many different ways. Ideally, they would lend themselves to different properties and uses, and be great for mixing together as well. I have some ideas...and I used some of my possibilities in this recipe for my banana bread.

This recipe is actually quite simple...because, like I said, I enjoy simple. It is also very nutritious, with a great deal of healthy fat and protein from the almond flour, and lots of vitamins and minerals from the brown rice and buckwheat flours. The chia seeds and the walnuts (both optional) add omega-3's and fiber, as well as a little crunch, and there are even nutrients in the honey that sweetens the bread. One of my favorite parts, though, is the cinnamon swirl that decorates each slice. A bit of organic cane sugar is mixed with cinnamon and swirled into the middle of the loaf. I actually got this idea from watching a video of Erin Mckenna of Babycakes NYC bakery. She used the swirl in a teacake reciped that she made, and I thought it would be wonderful in banana bread as well. Some of the cinnamon-sugar mixture is reserved and sprinkled over the top of the bread as well, which creates a decadent, crispy crust on top--a sweet little crunch! This recipe is truly wonderful--probably better than any I have ever had with wheat, and I mean that! I hope you enjoy, and can satisfy your cravings for a dreamy loaf of banana goodness.

Cinnamon-Swirl Banana Bread

I am sure that any nut would go great in this recipe, if you didn't want to use almonds. Dark chocolate chips or raisins would be fabulous as well. Also, the flour proportions can be changed--experiment if you like, and let us know how it turns out!

1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup honey (or sweetened to your taste)
2 eggs
3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup almond flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup chia seeds (optional)
1/4 cup almond milk, or other milk
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter with honey in a large bowl. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and bananas. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, salt, baking powder, and chia seeds. Combine wet and dry ingredients, add milk and walnuts, and stir until well combined. Pour into well-buttered 9x5-inch loaf pan. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup organic cane sugar with 1 heaping tsp cinnamon. Reserve 1/4 of mixture and use the remaining to make a ribbon of cinnamon-sugar down the center of the batter in the pan. Take a spoon and swirl the cinnamon into the bread however you would like, so that it is beneath the surface. Finally, take the reserved cinnamon-sugar and sprinkle it over the entire batter (this is what will create that wonderfully sweet crust on the top). Bake the bread for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes--just make sure to check it with a wooden skewer to make sure it is done. Cool in the pan a bit, if you can stand it, and then enjoy!

mmmm...look at that crust--oh yum!

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