Saturday, January 02, 2010

Whole-Wheat Banana Bread...

Jeff had been eying the bananas I had sitting off in the corner, letting me know their status each day as their yellow jackets turned dark, almost completely black. See, he likes his bananas just barely ripe, even better if they still have a tinge of green to them. However, to get the most sweet bang for our buck, I let them go as long as possible before using them or tossing the bunch in the freezer for a later date. To him they are mushy, gross and he can't stand looking at or touching them when they go this ripe (he's even had the audacity of trying to throw them out!).

He does end up loving their intensity in baked goods though, even if he won't admit it... I used a few of those dark bananas this morning to make this Whole-Wheat Banana Bread. Because this is a quick bread, making the batter is a snap and can be done by hand without hauling out a mixer. Using a combination of white-whole wheat flour (whole-wheat pastry or even regular whole-wheat flour would be fine) and all-purpose as the dry ingredients, we also mixed the brown sugar called for right in, along with the leavening and salt.

To take this bread in a healthier direction, instead of using a lot of fat for moisture and tenderness, the recipe called for replacing that with tangy buttermilk and just a single tablespoon of canola oil. Mashed bananas and a couple eggs, with a splash of vanilla for good measure, round out the wet ingredients, creating a thick batter when combined with the flour mixture. If you love a nutty crunch in your banana bread, don't be afraid to fold in a half-cup handful of toasted walnuts or pecans too.

Once scooped into the pan, we topped this off with an intriguing streusel-like concoction before going into the oven. With just three ingredients, this mixture was prepared by stirring together old-fashion rolled oats, a few spoonfuls of brown sugar and yep, more banana! You won't want one of those extra-squishy ripe banana for this though - use a firmer one so most of the pieces retain some shape. As soon as the cake tests done, preferably with a few moist crumbs attached to the toothpick or skewer you use, let in rest in the pan for about ten minutes before turning it out to cool completely.

I'll start off by saying that because there wasn't a lot of added fat, you can imagine that this bread is on the denser side, but neither of us thought the texture was gummy or like a heavy brick as some low-fat baked goods can become. It was still plenty moist and both of us commented on how well the tang from the buttermilk paired with the sweetness of the banana. The oat-y nuggets on top was a nice surprise, adding a bit of crunchy and extra banana flavor. Would I make it again? I think so, but I would probably think about reducing the buttermilk by a quarter cup and replacing that with either melted butter or canola oil to see if that would improve upon the texture.

8 comments:

  1. Yum--I love the idea of a banana oat mixture as a topping!

    Courtney

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  2. We love banana bread and muffins made with the overripe bananas around here, and my son likes the bananas very ripe and sweet to eat.
    Me however, I am just like Jeff! I can't stand the ripe bananas, I like them yellow, no black spots if possible, very little green in the skin tells me they are perfect to eat. But after a few dark spots show they are done for me and either someone might eat it or they will become banana muffins! (or like you said, be tossed in the freezer for future smoothies!)
    Ana

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  3. Delightful!!!

    MMMMMMMMM,...

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  4. Just wanted to share that my fave banana bread has oatmeal in it and I sub some of the reg flour for the irish flour from king arthur. yum- you might like to play with that idea too :)

    hope it warmed your kitchen up :)

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  5. Yum, it sounds delicious and healthy too!

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  6. Courtney - That's what drew me in!

    Ana - hee hee!

    Sophie - Thanks!

    Cheryl - Love that idea!

    LLT - Thank you!

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  7. the ONLY way to use even slightly spotted bananas is to let them ripen completely and cook with them. i won't even eat them when they have one spot on them. in fact, if they don't still have SOME green they're too ripe for me to eat plain. so i'm with jeff on this one.

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  8. Beverly - Jeff is glad he isn't the only one!

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