Recently I’ve been overwhelmed by the desire to bake. Odd, given that is it close to 100 degrees here in LA. Maybe it’s because fall is quickly (if not evidently) approaching and there’s something about baking breads for fall that is so comforting.
Before I really started studying holistic health and nutrition, I had my own baking business in Brooklyn and I ate quite a bit of my baked goods. Everything I made was made from the best organic ingredients, but my cookies, brownies, cakes, scones, muffins and biscotti were still full of sugar and white flour. Since I’ve learned so much about the health hazards of those two prominent baking ingredients I’ve been experimenting with alternatives.
What I’ve been in the mood for lately are quick, sweet, fruit-filled breads. Banana bread is a staple I’ve made for years and substitutions work well in this recipe. So this is the first recipe I’ll share here.
In the bread pictured above, I added some strawberries as well. I only had two bananas in the freezer and this recipe is much better with four, so I substituted some fresh strawberries for the missing bananas and mashed them into the bananas. You could do this with any fruit, just aim for about one and a half cups of mashed fruit. I used spelt flour and it came out really delicious. The only sweetener needed is honey — along with the fruit it is perfectly sweet.
Banana Tea Bread
1 3/4 cup sifted spelt flour 1/3 cup honey
2 tsp. baking powder 2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 tsp. baking soda 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4)
1/4 tsp. salt 4 tbl butter, softened
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cream the butter, add the honey gradually and continue working, blending well. Add the beaten eggs and beat well. Add the flour mixture alternatively with the bananas (or banana/fruit combo), a small amount at a time, stirring in each addition until smooth. Do not over mix.
Turn into a well-greased or parchment-lined loaf pan (8 1/2” x 4 1/2” x 3”) and bake about for about 1 hour at 350 degrees. The loaf is done when the cake tester or toothpick comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. Let cool for a few minutes before turning out of pan. Cool completely before slicing.
Yield: 1 loaf
A Bit about Bananas
I know bananas are not local or seasonal (at least not until I start growing my own banana tree), however, I had some overripe bananas in my freezer so I thought I’d start there. I love bananas but have been trying to buy less of them since they are so environmentally un-friendly — from the way they are grown to how much fossil fuel it takes to ship them here. And I’m talking about organic bananas. Conventionally grown bananas are an environmental nightmare. They’re one of the most heavily chemically treated crops, destroying tropical rain forests in Central and South America, and poisoning the workers and families who live near the banana plantations. I came across this video while researching banana production. Please watch it and tell everyone you know to boycott conventionally grown bananas. I’m not sure if it’s better to stop buying bananas altogether or to support the farmers who are growing them organically and paying their workers a fair wage. I can see arguments for both sides and I'd love to hear feedback on this.
But before I completely give up bananas, this is a great and simple banana bread recipe — and keep checking back for more fruit-filled breads and cakes. I plan on doing a series of different fruit breads and cakes using healthier ingredients. I’m thinking about peaches, nectarines, blueberries, zucchini, and strawberries — just to whet your appetite.