I’m taking my go-to banana bread recipe and making a few changes—tasty changes, I hope:
- Instead of 2 cups of all purpose flour, I’m using 1 cup of that with 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of oatmeal—more fiber
- For the shortening, that I always interpreted as butter, I’m using extra virgin coconut oil—good flavor, but the jury is still out on heart health
- The 1 cup of sugar is always a problem. I’ve never been happy with the blends that use less sugar in baking, but I’m still on that search. In this batch, I’m substituting brown sugar, which I hope will keep this batch, with all it’s whole grains, moist. To avoid eating too much sugar, I’ll do what I always do, freeze the bread in servings to assure I only eat one a day. I do this successfully with muffins, one of which makes a nice lunch.
- I’m adding a full cup of chopped walnuts, roughly chopped for large pieces.
Well, that was yesterday. I wrapped the cool loaf to sit overnight and develop its flavors—this really happens. I cut the large loaf into 8 thick slices and wrapped them individually for the freezer, leaving one out for breakfast. This might be my new go-to banana bread. The banana taste was prominent, the bread moist and chunky with walnuts. The oats added a chewiness, and while I couldn’t pick out the whole wheat flour, it must have added its own characteristics to the bread. Finally, I think the brown sugar played a large part in the overall flavor.
And I still assert that the best banana bread recipes do not use baking powder, which adds a bitterness with banana.
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Banana Bread
Preheat oven to 350°; butter and flour 1 9″ x 5″ or 2 8″ x 4″ loaf pans.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together
- 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 large or 3 small ripe bananas, mashed or broken into chunks
Stir in the dry ingredients and nuts
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
Pour batter into the prepared pans. Bake the large loaf for about 55 minutes, the smaller loaves for 45-50 minutes. Test the center with a toothpick for doneness.
We go to the cabin this weekend for the first day of antlered deer season on Monday and I didn’t want to fuss with bowls and spoons and almond milk to eat the muesli that I eat for breakfast every day, so I’m putting the muesli in bars. I’m still making the muesli that I posted so long ago, but have switched out the high GI (glycemic index) raisins for moderate GI figs. Then, ironically, I’ll be holding the bar ingredients together with mashed bananas, which are high GI. What can you do? I’ll be working it off walking in the woods, so I’m not too worried about it. If you’re interested in the glycemic index, you can find more information about it and look up foods here: Montignac Method.
I’m modifying this recipe from The Kitchn, adding more fruit and seeds than called for, and then putting it all in a smaller pan so they are thicker. I’m skeptical that the bars will hold together, but I want to give the recipe a chance. I’m hoping that using more dried fruit helps them hold together, but even if they don’t, I can eat them in pieces with no problem.
Ample fruit and nuts
Almonds, figs, and apricots
Bananas liquified in processor
Pressed in pan
Baked with browned edges
They turned out great and held together well. They’re a chewy bar, which is what I wanted. One of the reasons I like muesli for breakfast is all the chewing activity you get from the seeds and oatmeal, so these bars will make a great breakfast substitute. There is a slight banana taste, but it’s not overpowering, and the figs and apricots keep the bar moist. Try it with your own variations.
Preheat oven to 350°; butter a square baking pan or dish, 8″ or 9″ square. My dish is 8″ square.
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dry roasted almonds
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened apricots
1/2 cup dried unsweetened figs
1/4 cup dry roasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup dry roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2 ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla
- In a food processor, process the almonds, figs, and apricots until they are in small pieces, but not ground to a paste. I had thought about leaving them larger, and that might be a good option.
- Add the fruit and nuts to a large mixing bowl with the oats and seeds.
- Liquify the bananas in the food processor with the vanilla. Pour over the bar mixture and stir to combine.
- Press the mixture into the greased pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Watch carefully.
- Rest to cool on rack. Cut into bars when still slightly warm, but not too soon. Let cut bars continue to cool in pan before removing to rack to cool completely.
- Wrap bars individually in plastic or wax paper to take in lunch.
My husband mildly hates bananas, but really, really hates coffee, so he can’t complain that I am trying to make him fat with this bread. I’m using my favorite banana bread recipe, making adjustments for the coffee. [Pause while I do the math.]
Turns out I didn’t need the math. I just added one teaspoon of instant espresso powder and 2 tablespoons of prepared espresso from my single-serve coffee machine, and waited to see how the batter looked. It looked a little too wet, so I threw in about 2-4 tablespoons more flour (without measuring) to get the thick batter that I like for a nut bread.
The bread smelled wonderfully toasty as it baked, not really like coffee, but smoky, I’d say. Since I’m the only one eating it, I’m doing what I prefer to do with nut bread—wrapping it tight and waiting until tomorrow to cut it. See you then.
I’m back and really surprised by this nut bread. I waited the overnight before cutting it, because nut bread flavors develop over time, probably because of the nuts and fruit, if using fruit. I thought, because of the baking smells that the espresso might predominate, but I don’t taste it at all in the finished bread. What I do taste is a heightened banana flavor. We all know that coffee heightens chocolate flavors in baked goods, but I didn’t think that it might do that with other flavors. This calls for more experimentation, right after I eat another piece of this bread with a big schmear of butter.
Espresso Banana Walnut Bread
Preheat oven to 350°; grease and flour one large or two small bread pans.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 ripe bananas—mine were average sized bananas
2 tablespoons prepared espresso, slightly cooled
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Break up bananas into pieces and beat into butter/sugar mixture until the bananas are pretty much mashed into the batter.
- Beat in eggs.
- Add the espressos and vanilla, beating on low until combined.
- Beat in dry ingredients, adding a little more flour if you think the batter is too thin. I added between 2-4 tablespoons more flour to compensate for the extra liquid of the prepared espresso. A nut bread batter, like a muffin batter, should be thick.
- Stir in walnuts until well distributed.
- Pour batter into prepared pan or pans and bake for 45-50 minutes. I used the single large loaf pan and needed about 1 hour for it to be done in the center, but watch the edges for too much browning. I can’t stand a burnt crust on nut bread. I’d rather the center finished cooking on the counter than have a burnt crust.
Cool the bread in the baking pan on a rack for at least a half hour, before turning out to continue cooling. Wrap tightly in foil overnight before slicing.
Question: Can you eat a coffee bread with a cup of tea?
First, I should state that bananas are my favorite fruit. I think that makes me biased toward foods that retain an actual banana flavor without other ingredients overpowering it. It doesn’t mean that I would leave nuts or cinnamon out of banana bread, but sometimes I find simple to be best. Here’s a case in point. These Banana Muffins from Martha Stewart—and you can find a wide variety of banana muffins attributed to her—might have the most authentic banana flavor I have ever had in a muffin, and that’s even with the additions of whole wheat flour, brown sugar, and sour cream. They have a moist cake-like texture, instead of that drier crumbly texture of typical muffins which I love, but they are just so darned good, that as far as bananas go, this is going to be my go-to recipe for muffins. I fought the urge to tinker with the original recipe by adding nuts or cinnamon right up to the end, and then decided to make it a test of the recipe, and it was a good decision.
I was skeptical about this
Interesting or odd?
Martha Stewart Banana Muffins
Find the original recipe here and below: http://www.marthastewart.com/345534/banana-muffins
Preheat oven to 350°; line muffin tin with paper liners.
4 ripe bananas, plus 1 for garnish
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
- Peel four bananas, and place them in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until mashed, about 1 minute.
- Add brown sugar, oil, and egg; beat until smooth.
- Add flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; beat until smooth.
- Add sour cream and vanilla; beat until combined.
- Fill muffin liners three-quarters full. Slice remaining banana into 1/8-inch-thick rounds; place a slice on each muffin.
- Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes for regular muffins and 20 for mini, rotating pan halfway through. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Store, covered, at room temperature.
I filled my muffin cups 3/4 full and had enough batter left over to pour into a buttered mini loaf pan. 25 minutes worked exactly for my muffins. I had been concerned that the banana slices would sink into the batter, but they came out just as described.