I love banana bread for a plethora of reasons. First, we’re bulk banana buyers on our infrequent trips to town, which means that quite often, we have a few bananas laying around that go a bit overripe, and need to be used in a creative way. I often either whip up a batch of banana bread on the fly, or I peel the bananas and store them in the freezer in a container, making my primary ingredient for banana bread always available, just a thaw away (frozen bananas are also great to keep on hand for smoothies). Additionally, I always prefer my bread to have some sort of fruit or vegetable mixed in. This allows me to convince myself that I am in fact, eating healthy while stuffing my face with my fourth slice of sweet, baked bread on any given morning. Finally, this particular recipe can be easily adapted to be vegan. While not a vegan myself, I appreciate food that limits its demands on our ecosystem, and doesn’t require animal products both from an ethical standpoint of moderating consumption, as well as making itself edible for those with extreme food allergies.
This recipe is derived from the famous cookbook put out by residents of “The Farm,” an infamous vegetarian community of the 1970s in Tennessee. Their The Farm Vegetarian Cookbook is still a favorite go-to of mine for foundational recipes, including plentiful homemade breads and nut and rice-based milks.
While I’m baking on this weekend day, I’m a little under the weather. I’m listening to Jefferson Airplanes Surrealistic Pillow to lift my spirits and keep me motivated. Released in 1967, Surrealistic Pillow is psychedelic and bold, and feels ahead of its time. Although the second release by Jefferson Airplane, this was the first album with Grace Slick’s vocals gracing the group, and her frontwomanship on “Somebody to Love” and the anthemic “White Rabbit” helped propel the band to stardom. Who can’t at least partly understand the desire of Dr. Gonzo in Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when he sets his sight on throwing a plugged-in tape recorder into the bathtub with himself so that he can electrocute himself during the peak of “White Rabbit?” (I mean, not necessarily the suicidal ideations part, but the climax of Grace Slick’s vocals growling/singing “feed your head” is undeniably epic).
I for one, am a huge Grace Slick fan, and was happy to dust off my mother’s old album out of my collection on this drizzly day.
- 2 cups flour
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
- 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
- 1⁄2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1⁄4 tsp. ginger
- 1⁄4 cup butter (or margarine to make a very easy vegan adaptation of the recipe)
- 3⁄4 cup brown sugar or 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup mashed bananas, fresh or frozen (approximately 3 bananas)
- 3 tbsp. coconut milk (almond milk or even water work fine as well)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1⁄2 cup finely chopped walnuts (these are technically optional, though I wouldn’t recommend skipping out on them – they make the bread incredibly rich. If you are not a nut-in-bread sort of person, throw the walnuts in a coffee grinder first, and then use the powder and finely chopped nut bits).
- Heat the oven to 350°, and oil a loaf pan.
- Sift together all dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger).
- Using an electric mixer, cream together butter (or margarine) and sugar in a large bowl.
- Add bananas to wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Add approximately 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix, then add 1 tsp. of the coconut milk and mix thoroughly.
- Continue alternating between adding dry ingredients to wet mixture, with adding coconut milk and vanilla to wet mixture, until all ingredients are added and mixed.
- Fold in walnuts.
- Pour batter into loaf pan, and spread evenly.
- Bake at 350° for one hour, or until top is golden brown and a fork inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean.
I nearly always double the recipe and bake two loaves of bread. Even with just two people in the house, (well, momentarily three, as we are hosting an exchange student from Spain this spring), we always seem to go through one loaf in just over twenty-four hours, and I love taking a loaf or a few pieces in to work to share with colleagues in the staff room.