Banana Walnut Bread

Breads, Muffins and Scones

Yield: one 9×5 inch loaf (about 12-16 slices)
Recipe: 105/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 276

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     With a lot of time suddenly freed up after being done teaching a lab course, I took the opportunity during the weekend to bake a couple of things. It had been a while! Since I had some very ripe bananas in my fridge that needed to be used, I started with this vegan banana and walnut bread. It was simple to make, but the first time that I tasted it I wasn’t too impressed. I found it a bit too salty and not sweet enough. I thought that it was perhaps because my bananas were beyond saving (I’m telling you, they were very old and I think they may have started to ferment) and for this reason were not as sweet as normal ripe bananas. However, the second and third time I tried the bread I grew to like it. The banana flavour is not as strong as what I am used to, but you can definitely still taste the bananas. What surprised me most is the texture of this bread. Since there are no eggs, butter or dairy milk, I was not expecting such a fluffy texture. You could never tell that this recipe is egg-free and dairy-free! If you are looking for a yummy banana bread that does not require eggs or dairy, definitely give this a try! Word to the wise, I strongly advise you to use ripe bananas that have black spots on the skin, that is when they will be the sweetest.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
  • ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup walnut pieces

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, brown sugar, vegetable oil and almond or soy milk.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift and whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the banana mixture and stir until evenly blended.
  5. Stir in the walnut pieces and mix well.
  6. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and cook for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. Cool the loaf in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn it out to cool completely.

Valerie

Banana Chocolate Bread Pudding

Breads, Muffins and Scones, Custards, Puddings and Soufflés

Yield: one 9-inch bread pudding
Recipe: 42/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 204

Banana Bread Pudding

     Bread pudding. This is a concept I never really grasped. Why would you want to purposely wet bread and eat it so? In my mind the result would be a soggy and unpleasant mixture. This recipe, however, yielded a dessert that was none of that. Admittedly, I think that I slightly undercooked the bread pudding and as a result it was a bit “wet” still, but I could tell that perfectly cooked it would have tasted even better. The pudding was very good, chocolate-y and had the unmistakable banana flavor. This dessert is a bit long to make if you do not have the banana chocolate chip bread on hand, but it is definitely worth a try. It makes the perfect late-night snack! 

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with foil to prevent leakage and grease the springform pan. Place in a roasting pan.
  2. Cut the banana bread into 1-inch cubes and spread the cubes out evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Toast the banana bread for about 10-15 minutes, until the outsides of the cubes have dried. Leave on the baking sheet to cool.
  3. Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the milk to just below a simmer and pour it over the chocolate. Whisk the mixture until the chocolate has fully melted.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract.
  5. While whisking, add the chocolate milk to the egg mixture and whisk until homogeneously combined.
  6. Add the banana bread pieces to the chocolate and egg mixture and stir to coat. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally. Note: the banana bread cubes will begin to break up and crumble a bit at this point – this is normal.
  7. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan and pour boiling water into the roasting pan so that water comes halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the pudding for 60-75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the pudding comes out clean.
  9. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes, then remove it from the water bath before cooling it down to room temperature. Chill the pudding into the springform pan until it sets, about 5 hours.

Notes from Anna:

  • The bread pudding is best served chilled. It slices into wedges, just like a cake.

Valerie

Frosted Banana Nut Bars

Cookies, Bars and Biscotti

Yield: 16-18 bars
Recipe: 31/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 66

Frosted banana nut bars

    The incoming weekend could only mean one thing: time to bake and enjoy the weekend with friends! I wanted to make something sweet but light (ish) at the same time. I thus made these seemingly finger-licking good banana nut bars, with frosting! The bars by themselves are very good and savoury, but the frosting gives it that extra touch of sweetness and elegance. I really enjoyed these banana and nut bars. I am sure they will come in handy whenever I need to whip up a fast dessert that tastes and looks good. My only criticism is that the orange zest flavour is too present in the frosting and base for my liking. It almost overpowers the banana flavour. Then again, it may be that I unknowingly picked up some of the orange pith (the bitter white part of the skin) while getting the zest from the orange. Next time I will add less orange zest and I will thus enjoy them even more.

Ingredients for base:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest, finely grated
  • 2/3 cup mashed ripe banana (equivalent to one large or two small bananas)
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted walnut pieces

Ingredients for frosting:

  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1  1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest, finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup or so walnut pieces, for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and line and 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, making sure that the paper comes up the sides (this makes it easier for removal).
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk the ingredients to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract and orange zest.
  5. Add the mashed banana(s) and orange juice.
  6. Stir into this banana mixture the flour mixture and the walnut pieces until well blended.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly by tapping the pan hard on a flat surface. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool the room temperature in the pan, then transfer to a plate and remove the parchment paper.
  8. For the frosting, beat the butter with 1 cup of the icing sugar until smooth. Stir in the orange juice, zest, vanilla extract and the rest of the icing sugar. Beat until the mixture is homogenous. Frost the top of the cake and sprinkle the walnut pieces on it. Let the frosting set, uncovered, at room temperature for 1 hour (or 30 minutes in the fridge) before slicing it into 16-18 bars.

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Valerie

Basic Banana Chocolate-Chip Bread

Breads, Muffins and Scones

Yield: one 9 x 5-inch loaf
Recipe: 27/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 224

Banana and chocolate chip loaf

    Is there anything more comforting than a warm piece of classic banana and chocolate-chip bread? Unless it is accompanied by a hot cup of cocoa, I think not. I often buy bananas and I often don’t eat them all, so I am stuck with a couple of ripe bananas at the end of the week. Well what better way to use them (I hate waste!!) than to incorporate them in this scrumptious banana and chocolate chip bread? None, I say. I have made many banana loaves in my time, but this is the clear winner for the most tasty, moist and perfect banana bread to date. This banana bread is delicious warm out of the oven, at room temperature and even straight from the fridge. Give it a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 cups mashed ripe bananas (equivalent to 3-4 bananas)
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
  2. With a hand or stand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together until homogenous.
  3. Stir in the bananas, followed by the egg and vanilla extract. Mix well to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add this to the butter mixture and stir to blend all the ingredients.
  5. Add in the chocolate chips and mix well to distribute them evenly. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  6. Bake the loaf for about an hour, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Cool the loaf for 30 minutes prior to removing from the pan. This loaf can be stored at room temperature provided it is well wrapped on kept in a sealed container.

Notes:

  • I used milk chocolate chips, but surely any type of chocolate chips will do the trick.

Banana loaf

Valerie

Banana Coconut Muffins

Breads, Muffins and Scones

Yield: 10 muffins
Recipe: 19/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 214

Banana muffins

   Something I love baking is muffins. Muffins are versatile, delicious and usually quite filling, just like these ones. They’re almost like a healthy cupcake (or so I like to think when I’m eating one!). This recipe for banana coconut muffins was bound to be savoury, and so it was. I would never have thought to add lime zest to this batter, but it was an enlightened addition! The lime zest provided an unexpected kick to the muffins which was quite pleasant. Also, being curious by nature, I had to try both types of banana muffins: coconut and walnut. I simply divided the batter in two and added 1/4 cup of coconut flakes to one half, and 1/4 cup of walnut pieces to the other. Albeit I enjoyed both types of muffins, my favorites were definitely the walnut banana muffins! I loved the crunchy aspect provided by the walnut pieces. So if in doubt, go ahead and try both!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup mashed, ripe bananas (about 2)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1  1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut (may be replaced with 1/2 cup of walnut pieces)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with paper or silicone liners.
  2. Stir the bananas and brown sugar together.
  3. Add in the egg, lime zest and vanilla extract. Stir well.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the ingredients. Add this mixture to the banana mixture and stir until well combined.
  5. Mix in the coconut flakes or walnut pieces. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the muffin tops are golden and spring back when gently pressed. Let the muffins cool for 5-10 minutes before removing them from the tin.

Valerie