The other day my coworkers and I were discussing fruit superlatives. Which berry is best? Does texture trump flavor? Does organic taste better? How nutrient dense is one apple variety over another? You can see how things could get quite heated.
Watermelon is one “favorite” of mine, albeit only during the summer months when is is sweetest and most refreshing. Blueberries, when fresh, are equally delightful atop a pancake stack or a salad. Mangoes and papaya feel exotic and tropical, while strawberries are the perfect complement to rhubarb.
As you can tell, I was not able to reach a conclusion. THEY’RE ALL SO GOOD.
If I had to choose a fruit based solely on it’s versatility, I would go with the humble banana. It can act as a binder, be whipped into “nice cream” (frozen soft-serve), add moisture while reducing oil in baked goods, and lends subtle sweetness to most smoothie recipes. One of my favorite uses, however–banana bread!
If you’re a banana bread baker like me, you’ve probably struggled with having to wait eons for green bananas to ripen to that perfect, near-black stage. I have a trick that expedites that waiting process from days to mere minutes.
The spices used here are optional; if you don’t have all chai flavors on hand just amp up the amount of cinnamon. I really enjoy the taste of cardamom in this loaf though, so if you can grab some from the store I promise it will be worth your while!
This bread freezes very well and was inspired by Ambitious Kitchen. It’s one of my most frequently baked healthy treats! If you’re looking for more banana recipes, check out:
And if you like chai flavors, be sure to make Chai Latte Baked Donuts !
Now, let’s get to baking.
- 3 bananas
- 2 TBS flax meal + 6 TBS water
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or applesauce
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup maple syrup, depending on desired sweetness level
- 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (pastry, if you have it)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp each cinnamon, cardamom, and ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup raisins
- To prepare the bananas, if using unripe: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place bananas on a lined baking sheet, unpeeled. Once oven is ready, bake fruit for 10-15 minutes, until peel turns dark brown (see photo above). Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
- Remove from peels and mash in a small bowl. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- To a large bowl, add your prepared flax “egg,” oil/applesauce, maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla. Stir to combine, then add in your mashed banana.
- Next add in flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Combine until just incorporated. Fold in raisins and walnuts.
- Spoon bread mixture into a lightly oiled loaf pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until crust is darkened and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- This bread is delicious when toasted and spread with almond butter! It will keep in the freezer for about a month.