After living in the dorms for two years, where the fruit selection consists of apples, oranges, pears, and bananas, I’m not banana-crazy. However, I do love a nice moist, dense, loaf of bread, and this seemed to fit the bill. I saw this recipe on Averie Cooks, and seeing as how it has six bananas in it, I figured it must be pretty darn moist and dense, as well as chock-full of banana flavor. I haven’t made banana bread in a while, so I decided to give it a go. Knowing I wanted to make this bread, I bought seven bananas earlier this week, and allowed them to ripen in my cabinet until they were nice and spotty. However, I neglected to buy eggs. Whoops. Oh well, on with substitutions! The original recipe calls for two eggs, and I’ve seen the flax-egg substitute for vegan bakers a few times in my blog surfing, so I decided to try it for this recipe. I was a little unsure of how it would turn out, but after tasting this bread, this will definitely be my egg substitute from now on.
I also substituted ¼ cup white sugar, ¼ cup flour, and 2 tbsp cornstarch for the pudding mix, since I didn’t have that either. I know, I’m super prepared. But hey, my lack of forward thinking allows me to get experiment with substitutions! A third change I made to this recipe was increasing the butter from 4 tablespoons to 6, since I was using non-fat Greek yogurt instead of the recommended full-fat. The final change I made to this recipe was the addition of walnuts into leftover batter. I don’t like nuts in my banana bread, but there’s something classic about banana nut muffins, so I went ahead and added them in. I also sprinkled some walnuts on the top of the loaf just for aesthetic effect (gotta make it look pretty!), but I didn’t mix any into the batter.
Now for the results… Oh my goodness these were amazing. I took my first bite of a muffin (since they were done first) with a bit of apprehension, since I made so many substitutions, with some guesswork involved, but they were absolutely amazing. Extremely moist and dense, but also fluffy at the same time (thanks cornstarch!) these muffins were bursting with banana flavor. As soon as the bread was done and cooled enough for me to not burn my tongue on it, I tried that too. Heavenly. Even more moist and dense than the muffins, with a little less fluff, but just as much banana flavor. So, so good. This is the best banana bread I’ve ever made, and one of the best quick breads I’ve ever made, up there with my favorite Zucchini Bread. This bread doesn’t even have chocolate in it, which is really saying something. I like to think this bread is relatively healthy as well, since it has so many bananas. Or I might just tell myself that to justify eating a muffin tomorrow morning for breakfast. The next time you have six bananas getting overripe on the counter, make this bread! Or, if you’re like me, buy six bananas and wait a few days for them get spotty so you can make this bread!
Edit on 9/7/13: I re-made this bread using vegetable oil instead of the melted butter, and I prefer it with the oil. The oil makes the crumb slightly lighter in the bread, but still dense, and even more moist than the melted butter! Since butter is used softened in most recipes, the creaming method of butter and sugar pokes holes in the butter, creating air pockets which assist with rising. Since the butter in this recipe was melted, creaming it with sugar won’t have the same effect, so I went ahead and changed it for oil. I find that oil in quickbread and muffins often results in a moister, lighter crumb, which I am partial to.
Six Banana Banana Bread
adapted from Averie Cooks
6 tbsp warm water
2 tbsp ground flax meal
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup white sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp vegetable oil (or melted butter)
¾ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
6 bananas, mashed (about 2 ½ cups)
½ cup walnut pieces (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease and flour an 8×4 bread pan and 8 muffin cups.
In a bowl, combine the warm water with the flax meal and allow to sit while you mix all the other ingredients. This was my substitute for the 2 eggs called for in the original recipe.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, ¼ cup of white sugar, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream together the oil, sugars, and vanilla extract. Add in the flax eggs (it should look gel-like at this point) and the Greek yogurt and stir to combine. Mash the bananas into the wet mixture (leave some larger chunks if you like banana chunks in your bread), then add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Don’t overmix or your bread and muffins will be tough and gummy.
Pour the mixture into the bread pan until it is ¾ full, then sprinkle walnut pieces on top. If you’re really against nuts in your bread, this step can be omitted. Place in the oven and bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Fold the rest of the walnut pieces into the remaining batter, then divide the batter into the prepared muffin tins. Bake the muffins for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Watch the muffins closely, they go from barely baked to nearly overbaked in the blink of an eye. Enjoy!
This is why I told myself I would bake less in the apartments. So far I’ve done pretty well, I’ve only baked twice since moving in, but the problem is whatever I bake, I eat. Especially recipes I love, including this one. In the six hours that have passed since baking these, I have already eaten a couple pieces of the bread and a couple muffins. Bad news. But, I had a hard swim this morning and a good lift this evening to make up for it!
For the swim I did another Threshold Thursday. Threshold sets are always hard, and this one was no exception. It felt great though, and I was pleased to discover that I can make pretty decent intervals!
300 free, 300 non-free
4×100 @1:30 free descend 1-4
4×75 @1:15 fly/back/breast by 25
4×50 @:50 1) first 15m sprint, 2) middle 15m sprint with turn, 3) last 15m spring, 4) easy
Main set: 6 rounds of 4×100
1) 3 threshold free @1:20, sprint first 25, 1 easy
2) 3 threshold free @1:20, sprint second 25, 1 easy
3) 3 threshold free @1:20, sprint third 25, 1 easy
4) 3 threshold free @1:20, sprint last 25, 1 easy
5) 3 odd laps fly, even laps free @1:30, 1 easy
6) 3 threshold free, except 3rd lap breast @1:30, 1 easy
100 easy choice
12×25 free @:30, no breaths
100 easy choice
Total: 4200 yards
Time: 1 hr, 15 min
For good measure, here’s the lift I did as well, or a rough idea of what I did. I kind of just go to the gym and see what’s open, and go from there. My plan today was to do arms, but when I saw a squat rack open I just had to jump on it, so I ended up doing quite a bit of legs, a smidge of arms, and a nice ab set to finish it all off.
Warm up: 5 min cardio
10 reps @95 lbs
10 reps @115 lbs
8 reps @1:35 lbs
8 reps @135 lbs
6 reps @155 lbs
8 reps @135 lbs
10 reps @135 lbs
4x(10 split squats on each leg, 12 RDLs, start with the bar then increase by 20 lbs for consequent sets)
2x(16 straight arm shoulder flys, alternating forward and sideways, 16 static arm bicep curls, 15 tricep dips)
2x(alternating shoulder press, 15 each side, supination bicep curls, 15 each side, 15 tricep kickbacks)
Abs (taken mostly from P90X):
50 bicycle feet, forward
50 bicycle feet, backward
25 heels to heaven (reverse straight leg crunches)
25 v-up roll-ups
25 oblique v-ups on each side
25 scissor feet
50 Mason twists
Foam roll and stretch
I also did some physical therapy exercises, and I foam rolled and stretched extensively, so this whole thing took me almost 2 hours. Without the PT exercises and with a less extensive roll-out and stretch (not to mention without a ton of losing time wandering around the gym looking for matching weights and open equipment) it would probably take about an hour and fifteen minutes. My friends think I’m crazy for working out so often, but when you eat as much as I do, it becomes necessary!