Monday, 20 May 2013

"Free" Banana and Walnut Bread:

Hello...I'm back!  It's been ages since my last post and I do apologise, we've had all sorts of family things going on here and my little blog had to take a back seat for a bit.  But that doesn't mean I haven't been baking, oh by jimminy no...I just haven't been writing it all up.  Now, one of the things I've been experimenting with is what I call "free cooking", by which I mean sugar free, gluten free, fat free, dairy free etc. etc.  Partly to address allergy requirements, partly to address lifestyle choices, but mostly because when it comes to fat and sugar: less is more (providing the finished article is still completely yum!).  Now, hands up if you knew that you can substitute apple sauce for butter or oil...nope me neither.  But you'd be amazed what you can find out when you start looking. Please don't panic there will still be butter and sugar a-plenty in the weeks and months to come...but there will also be "free" recipes sprinkled amongst them.

And so to the banana bread: now, there are times when the bananas in my fruit bowl look like they have just lost the will to live.  Sometimes I throw them in the freezer for future use in a smoothy (yay, how thrifty of me) but now and again I just send those suckers to the great fruit bowl in the sky (boo, wasteful).  But no comes a recipe that actually NEEDS them to be squishy...even to the point of soupy.  And I'm dedicating it to my Dad, who never met a manky banana he wouldn't eat!  I found this recipe on the web and you can link to the orginal version here.  I added some walnuts because it needed the texture but you could leave those out if "nut free" is a requirement.

2 cups wholemeal/wholewheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt or 1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 cup of good sharp apple sauce (or stewed bramleys, you need that saucy texture)
3/4 cup runny honey
2 eggs
3 bananas...the mankier the better
2/3 cup chopped walnuts**
  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 F / 170 C. Either grease and flour a 9x5 loaf tin, or line it with a paper liner.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. I like to use a whisk because it adds air to the mixture.
  3. If it's a cold day place your jar of honey in a bowl of hot water for a couple of minutes just to make it a bit runnier.
  4. In a large jug (or bowl) mash the bananas with the back of a fork then mix together with the apple sauce, honey, and eggs. 
  5. Pour all the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir well, but don't over mix it or the bread will be tough.  Stir in the chopped walnuts.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 60 minutes or until it passes the clean skewer test. 
  7. Allow the bread to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn it out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
** You really don't need to be painfully accurate on this particular measurement.  I just found that 1/2 cup wasn't enough and a full cup was really too much so I compromised.  Please, add the quantity that makes you happy!

Now, much as it pained me, I managed to make this loaf last 4 days (unwrapped) in an airtight tin with no loss of texture or flavour.  And it was in and out of that tin over the course of the 4 days I can tell you!  But in case you were wondering, the bread part of it freezes beautifully well - though the nuts had a bit of an odd texture when they thawed.  If I were to make this for the freezer I would probably add the same volume of raisins and leave the nuts out.  Also, from the photo you'll see that I sliced it and spread it with butter like a tea bread.  I turns out that this was completely delicious...and completely uncesessary.  Seriously, this can be TOTALLY fat free if you want it to be.

Now go and check your fruit bowl...!

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