Saturday, September 3, 2011

Figgy Banana Bread (lowfat, vegan)

Nearly overripe bananas... sitting in my fruit basket. Nothing fills me with the sudden need to try out a banana bread recipe like that sight.

OK, actually, I've never made banana bread before (somewhat shocking, given my love of baking and the fact that baking my Mom's pumpkin bread has kind of become "my thing"). But THIS morning, my close-to-extinction bananas DID compel me all the way to making my first-ever batch of banana bread.

Since I recently discovered how good vegan baked goods can be, I wanted to make vegan banana bread. Searching for recipes, I was drawn to one: "the best vegan banana bread" from  The Baking Bird. Since I didn't have applesauce, and only had nearly 2 bananas (I ate part of one before I completely decided to go for making the bread- oops ;-) ), I altered things a bit. I also thought, hey, while I'm already changing things, why not make it non-fat too, and leave out the oil? What's baking (and life) without a little experimenting?! (Note: if you use non-fat milk and cooking spray, there will be nearly no fat; if you use almond milk there will still be very little).

The result was yummy!

Ingredients: (for one small-medium loaf)
  • 2 very ripe small-medium bananas
  • 1/4 cup maple brown sugar instant oatmeal, cooked according to package instructions (YUP! That's right, I subbed instant oatmeal for applesauce. No, I'm not crazy)
  • 1 Tbsp maple (or plain) agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk (My favorites are Trader Joe's Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, or Silk's Nonfat Vanilla Soy Milk)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 figs (I used T.Joe's Calamyrna Figs), chopped into small pieces
  • ~1/2 Tbsp Vegan butter (such as Smart Balance- check for 'vegan' on the label- I use Smart Balance Light Original with Flax- or Earth Balance) or cooking spray for greasing the pan
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Mash the banana in a large bowl. Mix in the rest of the wet ingredients. (For the instant oatmeal, just cook according to package instructions- I kept mine slightly thick rather than soupy/watery). 
  3. Mix together in a separate bowl the dry ingredients, and after well sifted, add to the wet.
  4. Mix well, and then add the chopped figs. Use a small to medium sized dark non-stick baking pan, and grease with spray or non-dairy butter. Add a little flour and tap around til lighted coated to help the bread easily slide out.
  5. Cook for ~30 minutes (timing will depend on the size & type of pan you use. Start checking after 20 minutes, cooking until lightly browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean).
  6. Optional step: after removing from oven, spread a little bit of Smart Balance (or other vegan butter) on top, and sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar. 
  7. Cool... or eat a few slices hot! ;-)

Notes: The bread was slightly dense and a little chewy from using the oatmeal instead of applesauce (and not using any oil). But it was also very moist, packed with delicious flavor, and healthy too! This recipe might be good for mini-muffins too; you could even add a little fig jam into the center.

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