Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vegan Banana Bread

Prepare yourself for a surprise. Ready?

It's cold and rainy in Seattle.

You're shocked! I knew it. Sunday was actually a lovely day, and Official Taster and I continued to explore our new home. We found a giant, amazing dog park, and, more importantly, a community garden! I am so, so, so excited by this find. They don't post applications until January, so until then, I have to content myself with gardening books from the library and dreaming up a new garden plan every day. The plots are 400 square feet! That's a lot of basil, tomatoes, sunflowers, peppers, marigolds, beets, onions, and, pumpkins. Pumpkins are one of those veggies that are hard for apartment dwellers to grow simply because of the amount of space they need. They sprawl, vine, and, like zucchini, somehow take over whatever you allow them. If you can't tell, I'm already looking forward to next year's harvest.

In the meantime, however, I'm focused on staying warm and dry. Baking is the perfect solution. This banana bread is really good. Like, really, really good. It's first incarnation was ok, but nothing special. So I bought more bananas, let them turn brown, and then tried again. This time, it's perfect. (no, really. not to toot my own horn or anything, but this smelled and tasted like what I dream banana bread to be)

Vegan Banana Bread
1 stick vegan butter
3/4 C brown sugar
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 C)
2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the bananas. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix to combine. Mix in vanilla. At the last moment, working quickly, add the vinegar and mix to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, until nicely browned. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out fairly clean, but because of the moisture of the bananas, it won't be completely clean like when testing cakes.

If your bananas need a little help getting to the "very" ripe stage, once you've chopped/mashed them up a bit, stick them in the microwave for about 20 seconds.

Just before adding the vinegar, feel free to mix in nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, coconut, or anything else you think would be tasty.

The idea with adding the vinegar at the last second is simple. When baking soda and vinegar combine, they produce bubbles (remember the volcano you made in fourth grade?). If you add them at the same time, early in the recipe, a lot of the bubble burst into the air. However, I think, if you wait to combine until the end, more of the bubbles get trapped in the batter, thus producing a lighter loaf.

This bread might be a very welcome gift during the holiday season. Be sure to make it fresh and wrap it well. Odds are good that the grateful recipient will eat it before it gets old.

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