Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Super Amazing Banana Bread Recipe

recipe flexible banana bread

 Ok, I know right now you're thinking "Banana bread? I mean, sure that's tasty, but how amazing and super could it possibly be; it's banana bread?"

Wrong! It is indeed amazing and super! Just wait!

Max loves to bake, and this easy recipe is great for letting him help. He's generally in charge of the banana-mashing. Also, it's on the healthier side, so I don't feel bad about handing it out as a snack. I like mine with a smear of apple butter and a big cup of coffee. :D

Ok, first the recipe, then I'll tell you the amazing and super part down below. I'd love to give credit for the basic recipe, but I've been making it so long it's just in my head now, so I don't know where I got it. If you recognize it, let me know and I'll give credit where credit is due. :)

You'll need:
4 large overripe bananas
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

loaf pan
cooking spray

How to do it:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray loaf pan. 
Place bananas in a large bowl and mash them up. I go for nice and squishy with only a few chunks. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add remaining ingredients, mix until everything is wet, but don't over mix. Turn contents of the bowl into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 1 hour. Let rest in the pan until cool enough to touch, then turn out to finish cooling.

With Pictures:
banana bread recipe step 1
Mash 4 large or 5 small bananas
banana bread recipe step 2
Add 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 cup milk and stir
banana bread recipe step 3
Add 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt and stir
banana bread recipe step 4
Mix until combined
banana bread recipe step 5
Pour into prepared pan, bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour
banana bread recipe step 6
Let rest in pan for a few minutes, then turn out to finish cooling

That's it! "What's the big deal?" you say. Well, first notice that there is absolutely no butter or oil. And yet it's delicious! Ok, that's pretty cool, but there's more!

This is the most substitution-happy recipe I've ever come across. Honestly, it's kind of hard to mess it up.

The flour, for example. Use whole wheat flour for a denser, healthier option. I've also successfully used cake flour and bread flour when they were all I happened to have. I don't know how it would do with gluten-free flours, but if someone tries it let me know!

And the sugar! Use white sugar, brown sugar, or cane sugar in the same amounts. Baking sugar substitutes (like baking Splenda) work well also. Or use 1/2 cup honey or agave. Or a 1/2 cup of fruit juice concentrate (like frozen apple juice), then a splash less milk.

I've successfully used milk replacements too.  Milk, soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, fruit juice, yogurt, and coffee creamer have all worked for me.

If you want to swap out the egg, you can use egg substitute, 2 tbsp of cornstarch, or just add an extra banana!

Speaking of bananas, you can swap those out for similarly squishy fruits or vegetables. 1 1/2 - 2 cups of mashed squash, sweet potatoes, or pumpkin are all great. Applesauce works too, but stick with about 1 cup. Same amount for peanut or almond butter. Silken tofu (about 1 1/2 cups) works, but you'll want to add back in flavor elsewhere.

Speaking of flavor, that teaspoon of vanilla is just there for flavor, so you can change it too! Try almond extract, fruit or berry extracts, cinnamon, amaretto, get the idea.

And finally - mix-ins! After combining your basic ingredients and before putting it in the pan, you can mix in any number of things. Nuts, or course are a classic; use about 1/2 cup. Berries are good too - either fresh or frozen (no need to thaw); use about a pint. Chocolate chips are a nice treat; 1/2 cup is plenty. Dried fruit can be fun too, but it's potent so you only need 1/4 cup; pineapple is my favorite so far. 2 tbsp of peanut butter adds some serious flavor too.

The only part of the recipe I don't mess with is the baking powder, baking soda, salt part. That's the magic kitchen science part that makes the rest of it work out.

So the real recipe is something like this:

1 1/2 - 2 cups mushed up fruit/vegetable
1 egg or substitute
1/4 cup something milky
1 tsp flavoring
2 cups any flour
1/2 - 3/4 cup sweetener
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
mix-ins as desired

Now that's amazing and super, am I right? 

Finally, you can make this as a loaf (350, 1 hour), as muffins (325, 30 mins), or even mini-muffins (325, 15 mins), with equally stellar results.  Ok, now go try whatever version sound good to you and let me know how it comes out!


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