A few days ago, my phone lit up with a message that made me smile after an emotionally tough week.
My sister and I are pretty serious about bananas. We both prefer to wait till they’re ripe and spotted to eat them because the more a banana ripens, the more the level of antioxidants increases.
Like any frugal person, we freeze the bananas just before the skin turns entirely brown so they don’t go to waste.
I do my best to buy multiple handles at a time in different stages of ripeness. Sometimes when we go to Walmart for groceries there are bags of bananas on the reduced-to-clear rack for $1 each. Last time, I left the store with 8 bags of ripe bananas. With at least ten bananas to each bag, I was swimming in brown bananas. I always freeze those really ripe ones to use for future smoothies, ice cream, or baking. Somehow they never last as long as I need them to.
The frozen bananas piled up in my sister’s freezer and needed to be dealt with. So deal with them we did.
Pro tip for freezing bananas, everybody: peel them, chop them, and freeze them in baggies or freezer bags. Doing this instead of freezing the bananas in their peel saves a lot of time later on. You can always leave the bananas out to thaw for a bit if you freeze them whole, but that defeats the purpose of having a frozen component if you’re making nice cream or a smoothie.
I looked through a lot of banana bread recipes because, as you have heard from me before, vegan and gluten-free baking is complicated. My goal in baking is to find recipes and key ingredients that don’t complicate matters more. One recipe I tried from a cookbook put out by Sweet Surprise in Courtenay, BC instructs you to strain the juice from the thawed bananas and cook it on the stove, adding a different kind of sweetness to the bread. The downside is that it was a little bit dry and crumbled too easily.
But I’m no quitter.
I explored the blogs of many bakers I follow and like many baking adventures prior, I ended up on the Minimalist Baker. While the Minimalist Baker is not a strictly gluten-free or vegan blog, most of their recipes fall into at least one of those two categories.
They encourage introducing more plant based foods into your life, which I naturally agree with.
This recipe rocks for many reasons, including the fact that it only requires one bowl. That’s right, one. My sister was pleased with this, as I’m not the most organized person in the kitchen. I do try hard to clean as I go, but no matter what I can never stop the dishes from piling up and the flour from floating onto the counter and floor. I know how lucky I am to be with somebody who uses cleaning as a therapeutic exercise. In return though, I provide tasty treats.
Thankfully, I didn’t need as much cleanup with this recipe.
3 medium ripe bananas (~1.5 cups or 337 g)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg (or sub 1 chia or flax egg – I used flax)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) grape seed or coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup (50 g) organic cane sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1/4 cup packed (55 g) organic brown sugar
2-3 Tbsp (63-84 g) maple syrup, depending on ripeness of bananas
3.5 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (180 ml) unsweetened almond or dairy milk
1 1/4 cup (137 g) almond meal
1 1/4 cup (200 g) gluten free flour blend
1 1/4 cup (112 g) gluten free oats
I personally didn’t use the almond meal and instead used double the amount of gf flour. I imagine almond meal would be great, I just didn’t have any on hand. We did add 1 cup of chocolate chips to boost the treat factor.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
Mash banana in a large bowl. Add all ingredients through almond milk and whisk vigorously to combine. Last add almond meal, gluten free flour blend and oats and stir.
My favourite banana bread trick is to top it with more banana. Slice a banana lengthwise, then press it into the top of the bread and sprinkle with sugar before putting it into the oven.
Let cool completely before cutting or it will be too tender to hold form.
Serve with butter and honey or as is. Store leftovers in a covered container for up to a few days. Slice and freeze for longer term storage.
What are your favourite ways to use up bananas? How about other fruits? I remember having a ton of fresh, juicy peaches last year and scouring for the best ways to use them. Let me know what you do to use a lot of fruit in one swoop!