Sunday, January 17, 2010

Banana Bread

This is a variation from my grandmother's banana bread recipe, which means it can't help but be anything other than delicious.  My grandma is the queen of comfort food.  I've veganized the recipe and made it just a bit healthier, so this is my version.

This recipe uses agave nectar instead of white sugar.  Agave nectar is the ingenue of the health food world, and we vegans use it instead of honey.  (Yes, honey is an animal product, you nay-sayers out there.)  But agave can also be used instead of regular white sugar, with some definite health benefits.  It's sweeter than sugar per calorie, so you use much less; it also is low in the glycemic index, making it good for diabetics and people on low-carb diets.  I also use half white and half whole-wheat flour, to up the fiber and general wholesomeness a bit.

The result is a banana bread you can feel a little better about eating, but it's still moist, tender, fluffy, and tastes like you're being very, very bad.

Banana Bread

  • 1 tbsp. egg replacer (like EnerG), plus 4 tbsp. water
  • 1/2 c. melted vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance sticks)
  • 1/2 c. (+ a tbsp. or two) light agave nectar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • chopped walnut (optional)
  1. Lightly grease or spray 2 loaf pans.  Preheat oven to 350° if you're using glass or light metal loaf pans, 325° for dark metal loaf pans.
  2. Whisk the egg replacer with the water in the bottom of a large mixing bowl.
  3. Melt the margarine by microwaving an unwrapped stick for 30-40 seconds.  Whisk into the egg replacer mixture in the mixing bowl.
  4. Add in 1/2 c. agave nectar and the vanilla and mix in completely.
  5. Peel the bananas (they should be very squishy) and toss them into the bowl.  I prefer to mix them in by hand using a potato masher and, when they're mostly mashed, using the whisk to purée them just a little.  This leaves little bits of banana in the bread.  If you prefer a perfectly uniform bread with no banana bits, use a hand mixer.
  6. Add the flours and baking soda, and mix in by hand.  Stir as little as possible, just until all the flour is mixed in.  Overmixing will make the bread less tender.
  7. Taste and adjust the batter.  If you prefer it to be sweeter, add a tablespoon or two more agave.  The consistency should be similar to a thick cake batter.  If the batter is too thick to pour, add a tablespoon more water until it's thick but pourable.  If the batter is too thin and watery, add more all-purpose flour a tablespoon at a time until it thickens up a bit.
  8. Pour the batter evenly into each greased loaf pan.  Spread out the batter into an even layer.  If desired, sprinkle walnuts on top of the batter.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, then check for doneness.  Loaf should be evenly brown, and toothpick inserted into center should come out clean.  The bread should be soft, but not doughy.
  10. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.
Bread is delicious hot out of the oven, or it can be stored for up to a week in a sealed container.  Warm up in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, and slather with EB or vegan cream cheese.  Just like grandma's house.

Happy eating.

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