Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Going Bananas for Banana Bread

Who hasn't bought a bunch of bananas only to walk into their kitchen a week later to find a pile of mushy, brown, spotted bananas that had been sadly forgotten? At this point, most people aren't very eager to snack on this overripe fruit, but rather than tossing them in the garbage, turn them into moist, delicious banana bread!

Babycakes's vegan banana bread has been my go-to banana bread recipe for years, ever since becoming vegan and discovering Erin McKenna's tasty and animal-friendly bakery and cookbooks. Before running away in fear after hearing the word vegan, I challenge you to take a bite and not feel tempted to gobble up the entire loaf. I'm no longer vegan, but I will always choose this recipe over any other because vegan or not, this is the best banana bread I've ever tried.

The original recipe is gluten free, but having no gluten allergies, I converted the recipe to include gluten (it's much harder to find gluten free baking ingredients than regular ones), but still be vegan. I also add chocolate chips and sometimes walnuts, to boost flavor and texture.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil, plus more for pan
2/3 cup agave nectar
2/3 cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 medium bananas, peeled and mashed
approximately 1 cup chocolate chips (more or less depending on personal preference)

Preheat oven to 325 deg F. Lightly grease a 7 x 4 x 3 in loaf pan with oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup oil, agave nectar, soy milk, and vanilla to the dry ingredients, stirring until the batter is smooth. Gently fold in bananas until they are evenly distributed. If desired, fold in chocolate chips and/or walnuts.

Pour batter into pan, bake for 50-55 minutes **. The finished loaf will bounce back slightly when pressed, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out relatively clean. I've found that a little batter on the toothpick is ok, since the bananas are so moist and the bread will stiffen up a bit while cooling. Let bread stand in pan for 20 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board to cut and serve while warm, or wait until completely cooled to store. Cover the uncut banana bread with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days (if it lasts that long!).

**The original recipe calls for a baking time of 35 minutes, however of the many times I've baked this bread, it has never been done in this time and actually is quite under-baked.

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