February 26, 2009

Two Banana Walnut Breads

The VEGAN one:

Err um I'm not a vegan but I felt like trying this recipe.  Vegan baked goods peak my curiosity because I can't help but wonder how they work.  I am so used to the old butter, sugar, flour, eggs scenario that it's hard for me to imagine things working any other way.  I'm definitely not averse to trying new things, in fact I think I might even like trying new things too much.  I'm one of those people who, usually to my disadvantage, likes to order something different at restaurants I've already been to even if I know there's that one thing on the menu I love.  But back to vegan.  There is just something so suspicious, so tricky, so... clever? about vegan baked goods.  

In addition to that mysterious enticement, I also wanted to try this recipe because it was raved about on bread and honey and I feel like I can trust them.  But unfortunately, I thought it was just ok.  The texture is moist but a bit too doughy and on the first day, it really didn't taste much like bananas because the molasses and spice flavor overpowered the fruit.  On the second day, the banana taste became more pronounced but it was still kind of mediocre.  Don't get me wrong, it's definitely not bad.  In fact it is totally passable as bread but it's not exactly what I'm looking for when I think banana bread.

I don't know why I haven't learned since my last foray into "low-fat banana bread" that perhaps banana bread just isn't supposed to be low-fat.  Perhaps it's supposed to have a stick of butter in it like the best banana bread I've made so far (over Thanksgiving) and for some reason haven't posted about until now.  So here goes... (read on under the VEGAN recipe)

the VEGAN one
Adapted from the Veganomicon cookbook via bread and honey

Ingredients

3 very ripe bananas
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas.  Add the sugar, applesauce, oil, and molasses, and whisk briefly to incorporate.  Sift in the flours, baking soda, spices, salt and walnuts. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined (do not use an electric mixer).

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes [mine took 50]. The top should be lightly browned and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean.  Remove from oven and invert onto a cooking rack; flip the bread right side up and let cool.

the BUTTERY one:

This banana bread was great.  Everyone at Thanksgiving loved it and probably ate a little too much of it before digging in to the traditional Thanksgiving fare.  It's moist but in a bread-y way, not a dough-y way, full of banana flavor, sweet, rich and perfect for walnuts.  The recipe is originally "Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts" but despite my chocolate loving tendencies, I can say without a doubt that this doesn't need any chocolate.  It does just fine without it.

the BUTTERY one
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 large mashed ripe bananas
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Combine walnuts and 1 tablespoon flour mixture in a small bowl and toss to coat.

Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in mashed bananas and vanilla extract. Beat in flour mixture. 

Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes.  Turn out onto rack and cool.

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