April 19, 2013

My Big Healthy Greek Banana Bread


Ok so this recipe wasn't intentionally supposed to be healthy it just happened that way because I needed to make a dairy-free, egg-free and sugar-free Banana Bread.   I was also inspired to use ingredients commonly used in Greek cooking.  I think I’ve accomplished that perfectly in this recipe with the use of honey, cinnamon, cloves, olive oil and pumpkin seeds.  If you’re confused about the pumpkin seeds, they’re a very popular Cypriot snack, usually served roasted and salted in their shells.

I’ve been making this loaf for a few months now (time flies when you have a baby) and all I can say is that as long as you follow the instructions, it’s flop-proof. Here are 5 things I’ve learnt about making the perfect dairy-free, egg-free and sugar-free banana bread:  
  1. Use over-ripe bananas – they mash better, taste better and add natural sweetness.  I added an extra banana to replace the eggs so this loaf is packed with healthy fruit.      
  2. If wholegrain is not your thing, you can replace it with the same gram quantity of white spelt flour or all-purpose flour if you wish.  Never, ever, use the cup measurement to replace flour.
  3. Use a light olive oil not extra virgin.  I’ve also made this recipe using grapeseed oil and coconut oil and they all work well.  The coconut oil gives a distinct coconut taste to the loaf.
  4. When adding the dry ingredients into the banana mixture, stir lightly just until the dry ingredients are incorporated but do not over mix it.  The loaf will be lighter this way.  It’s kind of like when you make muffins.  If you over mix it, it will come out dense and horrible. 
  5. Honey is an excellent sweetener in baking, although it can be a bit tricky when substituting a dry ingredient with a liquid.  If you’re vegan you can use maple syrup.

Banana and Pumpkin Seed Bread

Makes one loaf

250g / 1 1/2 cups wholegrain spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (unsalted)
3 large over-ripe bananas
75ml / 1/3 cup light olive oil
125ml / 1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a loaf tin with a 19x9x6.5cm 20lb non-stick loaf tin liner.

Add the dry ingredients, except the pumpkin seeds into a bowl and whisk to combine, then stir in the pumpkin seeds.

Perfect combination - cinnamon, banana and pumpkin seeds

Peel and mash the banana well.  Place the banana and liquid ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until it looks smooth with a few small lumps of banana here and there.  Lightly stir in the dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle with a few extra pumpkin seeds on top. 

Ready for baking
Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the loaf comes out clean.  If the top browns quicker, cover with a piece of foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.  Remove from the oven and allow the loaf to cool a little in the tin for 10 minutes.  Then remove the loaf from the tin and liner and allow it to cool completely…or you could thickly slice it while it’s still warm and enjoy with your tea!

What are your favourite tea breads for an afternoon or mid-morning treat?