I was sitting (or rather the fruit flies were sitting) on a pile of ripe bananas the other day, so I thought that I would make some banana bread.  I think that bananas and walnuts have a natural affinity for each other, so I set off to the store for walnuts.  I had some Teff flour in my pantry and wanted to give it a try in a quickbread.

Rich and Nutty Teff flour.

Have you ever heard of Teff flour?  Oh, Lordy!  This stuff is THE BOMB. High in protein, fiber and iron (due to the large percentage of bran and germ), it is a nutritional powerhouse. One serving has 5 grams of fiber AND protein (as compared to 3 grams in whole wheat flour).

I don’t know if most people know this, but my first job after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America was that of the Pastry Chef at Mustards Grill in Napa Valley.  My first (culinary) love is baking and I’ve been baking since I was 4 years old.  The first thing that anyone must realize about baking is that ratios of fat-to-flour, eggs-to-sugar and liquids-to-flour need to be measured as precisely as possible.  You can’t be cavalier in baking lets say, in the way you can be when making a stir-fry (it doesn’t really matter if you add 1 or 2 cups of broccoli-the outcome is still the same except there is more broccoli).   In classical baking, fat, sugar and liquid are what makes baked goods moist; flours and eggs are what thickens and binds them. In vegan baking, we use binders such as flax, chia seeds; in gluten-free baking, you might use tapioca flour or xanthan gum as the absence of gluten in flour tends to produce a crumbly, non-binding product.

I made three batches of banana bread.  The first batch came out very dry; most likely because I did use some water and, in hindsight, I thought that bread could be sweeter (read ”moister”).  Since bananas contain sugar and sugar is a moistener, I ditched the water on the second round and added 50% more banana.   I’m also not a fan of recipes calling for a number of bananas (such as 2 bananas, mashed) as bananas vary in size so the yield will change—in short, it is better to be precise (such as 1 cup of pureed bananas). Almost all of the recipes I’ve read re: banana bread, muffins and cakes called for mashed bananas.  I actually think that it is easier to put all of your liquid ingredients in a blender and whirl away—you get full incorporation of your ingredients so that you don’t end up with chunks and streaks in your final product.

You can sub out coconut sugar for regular sugar cup for cup. It is about 50% lower on the glycemic index and full of trace minerals

When working with Teff Flour, your batter will look akin to a bowl of milk chocolate icing

Banana “Breadlettes” ready for baking

Vegan-Gluten Free Banana Walnut Bread

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Teff Flour
  • ½ Cup Almond Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ¾ tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Salt

Blended Ingredients

  • 1.75 Cups ripe Banana Puree (about 4 very ripe bananas)
  • ½ Cup plus 2 Tbsp Coconut Sugar
  • ½ Cup Coconut Oil plus more for greasing pans
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Bean Powder or 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

Additional Add-Ins

  • 1 Cup Walnut Pieces, Pecan Pieces and/or Chocolate Chips

Method

  • Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease (I used Coconut Oil) either 1 large loaf pan or 3 small (2” x 3.5”) loaf pans
  • In large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients
  • In blender, puree ripe bananas.  Measure 1.75 cups and reserve any additional banana-it freezes well
  • Add Coconut Sugar, Coconut Oil (the heat from the friction of the blender will melt it), Vanilla, and Chia Seeds
  • Mix liquid ingredients in to flour mixture and stir until incorporated
  • Transfer into large loaf or small loaf pans.  Bake for 1 hour for large pan; 40 minutes for the mini loaves
  • Let cool in pans for at least 1/2 hour. If you take them out early, you run the risk of them breaking as they are more fragile when hot

A pretty little loaf crusted with walnuts

Try with some coconut butter and raw honey or jam smeared on still-warm bread

This week, I’m wrestling with the rather difficult decision of not doing the run at Ironman Whistler.  My injury is coming around and I would say I’m 85% there. Still, I would be pulling off a “couch-to-course” marathon which would probably entail a whole lot of walking.  Putting intellect over emotion, I know that it is probably better to shut it down after the bike and regroup for another race.   The upside to all of this is that I got on my bike for 5 solid workouts this week.  I feel good about that.  Here’s to getting this run thingy back.