Here’s the thing, you guys. I can’t pass up a deal. If I see something on sale, I will buy it. Even if, say, we are so broke that we are paying for groceries in quarters. Or if the sale in question is for something like purple crushed velvet couch cushions. This lends a certain . . . you could say “eclectic” look to everything in my life. Thankfully Jason is often the voice of reason in my life, or you might just see me on Hoarders.
Anyway, I went to the grocery store the other day and I saw bags of overripe bananas on sale. Each bag was practically overflowing with brown speckled beauties, and the best part? They were only $1.49 per bag. So, I picked up two of them. And, as I continued my shopping, I could just hear Jason asking what we would do with all of those bananas. So, after about half an hour with them in my cart, I put one bag back. When I got home and counted them, I realized that there were sixteen bananas in the one bag I did get, so I’m really glad I didn’t get two. Thank you, imaginary nagging Jason.
So when I think of overripe bananas, I obviously think banana bread. I love the stuff so much that a couple of years ago, I went on a quest to find the best banana bread recipe I could find. I tried the lower-fat banana bread recipe from Veganomicon, as well as several that I found online. Most were overly dry, not sweet enough, or entirely too dense. I adapted my mom’s banana bread, but it only comes out really well some of the time. Then I tried my sister’s banana bread. Eureka! This bread is moist, sweet, and satisfying. When she makes it, she adds walnuts and chocolate chips, which is fabulous. Jason and I are, however, trying, if not to lose weight, then at least to curb the rapid expansion of our mid-sections. So here is my veganized and slightly healthier version of my sister’s banana bread recipe. Oh, and I doubled the recipe when I made it, so if your steps don’t look like the pictures, don’t freak out. Or, go ahead and double the recipe and stick a loaf in the freezer!
Ian and Alison’s Banana Bread:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup raw sugar (use white sugar if you want it sweeter)
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
3 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons almond milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine
2-3 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional, but very good)
1 cup chocolate chips (if you’re going to do it, do it right!)
1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF, and grease a 9X5″ loaf pan.
2. Sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
3. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together the margarine and sugar until it looks so good you want to eat it.
4. Combine flax seed and water in a small bowl, and whisk like crazy for three minutes. I’m serious, you guys. I know you think it looks good after about a minute, but it’s not. Keep whisking. When you are done, your mixture should look like this:
5. Now you get to mash your bananas. This is totally fun. If there are kids around, they love this kind of thing. Peel your bananas, break them in half, and mash them with a potato masher.
You don’t want any pieces of banana bigger than about 1/8 of an inch. So really mash. If I was a little kid, I might enjoy doing this with my hands. And depending on her mood, my mom might have let me. So if you are tempted, go ahead and do it!
6. Add the flax mixture and the mashed bananas to the margarine/sugar mixture and beat until well combined.
7. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined (don’t over-mix this, y’all). Once it is all incorporated, stir in your almond milk and nuts/chocolate if using.
8. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake for somewhere in the neighborhood of an hour. Start checking after 55 minutes, but depending on how many bananas you use, it might take up to an hour and fifteen minutes.
I find that it can be really hard to tell when banana bread is done. Two important indicators are that the bread is very brown and solid on top, and that a toothpick or chopstick inserted into the bread comes out completely dry. Even a few moist crumbs are evidence that your bread is not done. Be patient. When done, your bread should look like this:
So, the big test: How does it taste covered in Earth Balance, alongside a cup of coffee? It tastes like the most perfect breakfast I can imagine! Go make some banana bread, and let us know how it turns out!