It’s a new year and I’ve got a new post for you…Classic Banana Bread.
I know it’s not the most likely first of the year posts, being that this is the time of year that everyone is embarking on healthy resolutions. But hey, I’ve lightened up this recipe a bit and it’s whole grain, so it’s not like I’m offering up a hot fudge brownie sundae in the first week of January. (Yeah, sorry about conjuring up that visual, especially if you’re munching on carrot sticks while reading this ;)
At the risk of sounding cliche, I’m starting the year with my on going philosophy…everything in moderation. Hopefully, that’s where we’re going to end up anyway, right? It’s very difficult to sustain extremes in any situation. You know this from just watching what happens at most gyms. They are packed right now. Every machine is taken, or at least the ones you want to use. The parking lot is full and you find yourself parking in the last row instead of the first row. (Although, that should be a good thing, right? Log in some extra steps before you even walk in the door :)
Fast forward to February…the crowds have died down, your machine is free and the parking lot has lots of available spaces. Of course, you only know this if you’re one of the ones who is still showing up everyday. And, while I haven’t taken a poll (ugh), informally you can recognize the regulars. My guess is that the majority of the people still going everyday are the ones who show up all year. It’s their habit, part of their life style.
I endeavor to feed my family in a healthy way every day. For us that means minimal processed food, no trans fats, whole grains, lots of organic produce and meat/poultry from a local farm. I try to balance carbs, healthy fats and lean protein in all of our meals. My kids don’t drink soda and sugary drinks. We eat fruit instead of drinking juice. I prepare hot healthy breakfasts and pack healthy lunches for my kids to eat at school. I cook healthy dinners and keep an eye on portion control.
But, that said, we’re never 100% all the time. Of course there are treats and splurges along the way. I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but I always tell my kids that treats are what you have sometimes. If you have them every day, they become your diet. So yes, sometimes I buy juice. We had it on Christmas morning and I’ll serve it whenever I’m making special breakfasts. Sometimes they order lemonade if we’re having dinner out. And sure, burgers and fries and pizza and fun food happens here too, just not all of the time. Dessert? Of course! But not every day, just sometimes. You’d think my son would know that by now, but he will still ask every. single. day. He has switched up his question, though. Instead of, “Are we having dessert?” Now it’s, “What about dessert, Mom?” Like I forgot about it or something :)
For this banana bread, I wanted it to be chock full of bananas, a full 2 cups! I used olive oil as my fat of choice and split it with some Greek yogurt. I also used whole wheat pastry flour, my flour of choice when I’m developing a whole grain recipe. It’s lighter than plain whole wheat flour and I use it in lots of things like Dutch Apple Pie Muffins, Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Nut Muffins and Whole Wheat Butternut Squash Pancakes. It works perfectly in this recipe as well, but you’re welcome to use all purpose flour, if that’s what you prefer.
This Classic Banana Bread bakes into a beautiful mahogany color; the texture is dense and moist. There’s no fluffiness here. It’s a hearty bread full of sweet banana flavor. The hint of cinnamon adds something interesting without being a main identifiable spice. A slice of this bread makes one yummy snack all by itself, but is also wonderful with a schmear of peanut butter or, ahem, cream cheese, if you’re so inclined to treat yourself :)
It’s better on day 2 or 3, if it lasts that long. I always try to let it cool and then wrap it up in foil for the next day. It’s not easy when the aroma from the baked bread has filled the kitchen and is wafting throughout the house, but I find it’s worth it if we can wait. If not, then we have a little on the first day and save the rest to sit overnight while the flavors meld.
I’m excited for 2017 and won’t miss the trials, tribulations and life challenges that came my way with brute force in 2016. I’m stepping softly into this new year, making a smooth transition, trying to remain calm and carry on…breathing deeply, eating healthy most days and splurging on others…increasing physical fitness but in a sustainable way.
With that in mind, I think Classic Banana Bread might be quite fitting, after all, for my first post of the year. It’s not complicated, fancy or contrived. Instead it feels nostalgic and comforting…back to the basics in a deliciously simple and good way. It’s full of whole grains and fruit and has bit of yogurt for extra protein. So is it a splurge?
Maybe a “moderate” one :)
Classic Banana Bread
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt I used 2%
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup mild olive oil or your preferred oil
- 2 cups mashed over ripe banana
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or lightly grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, yogurt and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the olive oil and mashed banana.
- Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and stir just until combined.
- Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan and transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Store at room temperature, wrapped in foil.
*If you're worried that the top of your loaf is getting too browned during baking, you can place a piece of tented foil over the bread during the last 20 minutes of baking.
*If you don't want any olive oil flavor to interfere with the taste, make sure you use a light and mild olive oil, the kind you would use for sauteing instead of the more assertive oils that you use for dressing, dipping and drizzling. You can also substitute in your favorite oil.
*The bread should be completely cool before wrapping in foil to store. Otherwise, steam could build up while it's wrapped creating a perfect environment for mold to grow.
*I keep the bread up to 3 days at room temperature. If I think I will be storing it longer, I'll either refrigerate it or freeze it. Generally, it doesn't last more than 2 days in our house.
*I use the spoon and sweep method for measuring flour. Fluff the flour, spoon it into your measuring cup and then level it by scraping across the top with a straight edge. Too much flour will ruin a recipe, so take time to insure that you're measuring correctly.
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