Hi friends! How's your summer? Is it hot, sticky and humid? Or is it mild, breezy, cold-but-the-sun-still-fries your skin? Full of berries and stone fruit? I hope so!
Have you gone berry picking yet? And made pie/shortcake/jam (or all of the above?)
Have you gotten lost on a winding, long coutry road to catch the sunset and sweet smell of field right before the sun dips below the horizon?
Have you ahcieved your quota of mosquito bites? Or ice cream sandwiches? Or icy cold beers drank with friends?
I hope you are working on all of the above. For me, I am working on....another move! Back to the motherland: Wisconsin. What can I say? You can take the girl outta Wisconsin, but you can't take the Wisconsin outta the girl. Besides that sounding kinda off/weird, it is true.
In my last 4 moves over the past 2 years, I have taken appreciation to sitting back, and enjoying the ride once I have intentionally set the process in motion. Letting go a bit, I have learned, is mighty helpful and healthy-despite my inner egoic voice wanting to over-analyze every little detail. Baking calms the noise in my head. It is all going to be ok!Ask me "are you enjoying the ride?" when my sister and I are driving through the plains of Nebraska in a week and half, and maybe I'll sing a different tune.
But regardless, I have ingredients to use up, and random picnic table bananas* to bake with.
*Berekeley is a fine, weird, marvelous place; I can't wait to visit. In the "picinic" area at work (a souped-up parking lot of sorts with picnic tables, and a few food trucks around it), someone leaves super ripe bananas on the one shady picnic table about 1x/week. This week, those spotted beauties were adopted by me, destined for this gorp-like banana bread. Perhaps taking mysterious bananas isn't the best life choice, but really....they are bananas. I am willing to take the risk. FYI: gorp is what you make on your last night of camping, to use up all your ingredients food leftovers. Trust me, this banana bread is 100% better than that....and even healthy-ish.
To this fine, tall, robust loaf, I added 100% whole wheat flour, buckwheat groats, toasted sesame seeds. I threw caution into the wind, and used all organic brown sugar. I mashed in 4 of those very ripe picnic table bananas, and chucked in a 70g bar of our (TCHO Chocolate!) 70% Nutty Ecuadorian chocolate (one of my favorites). Walnuts that you have long forgetten about in the freezer? Suuuure! Leftover cinnamon to kill the jar? Why not! Copious amounts of nutmeg? You betcha. Any excuse to use my Microplane, ya know? I took inspiration from the author of "Healthyish", Lindsay Mailand Hunt.
It is safe to say that banana bread, in general, is super forgiving. So chuck whatever you wish in for seeds, nuts, chocolate or even dried fruit. I'd walk the line around adding 2-4 types in about 1/4 cup portions. As Alice Medrich says so eloquently in one of her books (Bittersweet): it will be a blow upside the head, flavor and texture-wise. But honestly, I think that is a very good thing here.The whole wheat flour gives this loaf a dense, hearty texture-but it is strong enough to hold all those good bits in suspension, and it slurps up all that moisture from the massive amount of bananas you will add to the batter.
Just go for it ok? Don't think too hard. You can always bake another loaf. There will always be overripe bananas. I promise, it is going to turn out just fine. Pair with a strong cup of french press coffee on early mornings. Nibble a piece for your 4pm sugar craving. It isn't so un-wholesome to feel like cake, but it isn't healthy enough to feel like cardboard, either.Cheers, happy summer to you, and....Forward! (ps: "Forward" is Wisconsin's motto, just in case ya wanted to know....)
Healthy-ish Whole Wheat Banana Bread // makes 1 giant loaf //
- 1 1/2 (190g) whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 3-5 medium/large very, very ripe bananas
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup grapeseed oil, or other liquid fat of choice (coconut, melted ghee or butter, etc)
- 2/3 cup (135g) brown sugar
- 1/2-1 cup desired seeds, nuts, groats, nibs, dried unsweeted coconut (I used 1/4 cup sesame seeds, dried unsweetened coconut, and buckwheat groats)
- 1 cup nuts of choice, such as pecans or walnuts (I used walnuts)
- 1/2 cup (~70g) dark chocolate, chopped
Topping: 1 TB granulated sugar of choice (white, coconut, brown....) + 2-3 TB seeds, groats or coconut used in the batter + 1 tsp cinnamon + more freshly grated nutmeg + optional pinch large flake sea salt, such as Maldon
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a loaf pan with parchment, or grease/flour it. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, sea salt and cinnamon. Stir with a fork for 30 seconds to ensure everything is mixed. Toss on top the nuts, seeds, groats, coconut, chocolate, etc. that you are using, and mix to combine. While you are at it, mix the topping together in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with the fork you used in step 2. Add the egg, oil/melted butter/ghee, and sugar, and mix until thoroughly combined. If you like, leave your bananas a little chunky or smash them smooth-up to you!
4. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and mix until just incorporated, making sure to get the bottom of the bowl scraped so no dry bits are hiding.
5. Pour into the prepared loaf pan, and sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the wet batter. Bake for 55-75 minutes, depending on how many bananas you added, you may need to bake on the longer end. Check the loaf at 55, poking a skewer in the middle; you want to bake until no soggy or goopy bits cling to the tested.
6. Cool completely (trust me...trying to slice this loaf warm is a hot mess with all the nibbly bits). Slice, enjoy; freeze any leftover slices for up to 2 months, or store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
All the things! In and on the bread. Voila! Snacks/breakfasts for days. high five to you!