What do you do when the bananas are so over-ripe that they’re practically inedible? In my house, there are basically two choices: freeze them for smoothies or make banana bread. So I put it to a family vote, and the response was unanimous: Banana Bread!
I’ve been making the same banana bread for years. The recipe comes from my dog-eared, much loved copy of Laurel’s Kitchen, the very first vegetarian cookbook I ever bought. I’ve adapted the recipe over the years, and the book’s margins show it. There are notes giving the nutritional values with oil and with butter (from before I was vegan) and with reduced amounts of oil, butter, and light margarine. But there are no notes about completely eliminating the fat; I usually make the recipe for guests, and I tend to allow a little oil or margarine when cooking for others. I wanted to make it fat-free this time, so I looked for guidance in another old, but new to me, book that I picked up last week at an antique store: the 1994 edition of Fat-Free Baking by Sandra Woodruff, RD. It’s not a vegan cookbook, but its recipes really are fat-free and many look to be low in sugar, too. So I looked at what I like about the Laurel’s Kitchen recipe and I looked at Ms. Woodruff’s recipe, and I sort of combined the two.
And then I threw in my own twist: dried cherries. This was a last minute decision on my part. I was trying to decide whether or not to include dates when I remembered that I had a package of dried cherries I’d bought to make Pop-Ems. So I threw them in. Feel free to throw them out, but be warned–you’ll be missing a treat if you do. The cherries add a wonderful sweet-tart taste to the bread that you might not want to miss.
Cherry-Walnut Banana Bread
- 3 over-ripe bananas
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 4 ounces unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/2 cup dark sugar (brown sugar, if you have it; I used demerara sugar)
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup dried cherries (optional, though leaving them out will require a name change)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (ditto)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a large bowl, mash the bananas and add the lemon juice, apple sauce, and sugar. Stir well to combine. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture, and stir just until the mixture is well-combined.
- Spray or wipe a loaf pan with oil (I used non-stick spray on a silicon loaf pan). Spread the mixture evenly in the pan and bake until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
Fat-free quickbreads like this really benefit from being allowed to cool completely, which is why they often taste better the next day. The crust, which is chewier than breads with oil, will gather moisture and softness over time. Ignore the tempting aroma; pleasure delayed will be pleasure multiplied.
Cooking time (duration): 60 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 12
Nutrition (per serving): 186 calories, 31 calories from fat, 3.7g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 211mg sodium, 230.6mg potassium, 37.3g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 12.8g sugar, 4g protein, 3.2 points.
Without walnuts: 154 calories, 5 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 210.9mg sodium, 209.1mg potassium, 36.6g carbohydrates, 3.7g fiber, 12.6g sugar, 3.3g protein, 2.4 points.
Without cherries: Deduct 23 calories per serving.
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