Shhh Banana Bread

Shhh! So good, let's not tell it's low-fat!

Good banana bread recipes are common but this one is heady with banana and vanilla and more than a little bit good.

And shhh! It’s low fat.

But I promise, no one will guess from the taste.

My Dad asks for it special, toasted and unbuttered – and he’s one of those Greatest Generation Guys who slathers butter on most everything.

Most quick breads (‘quick’ is what we call loaves leavened with baking powder or baking soda not yeast) call for a stick of butter, eight whole tablespoons. This recipe calls for just one tablespoon of the more healthful unsaturated fat in vegetable oil.

The trick to SHHH or any other banana bread is patience, for the bananas must be very, very, VERY ripe.

Even the ripest ones from the grocery store must sit untouched for ten days or more to gather the soft sweetness that imparts banana essence. They’re not baking-ready until they’ve turned brown, almost black, all over.

And here’s a second trick, one I learned just last fall. It takes planning ahead but is then perfect for impatient bakers.

Once in awhile, the grocery sells bags of slightly riper bananas on the cheap. Buy one or two and let the bananas ripen to that brown-almost-black stage. Put them, still in their skins, in freezer bags and freeze. When you feel the urge for banana bread, thaw three or four for an hour, then slip the almost syrupy fruit out of the skins for mixing.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Send a favorite baking trick to e-mail.

SHHH BANANA BREAD

Banana ripening time: 10+ days
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time-to-table: 90 – 120 minutes
Makes 16 slices
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon table salt

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Mix the eggs and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer for 5 minutes, then mix in the bananas, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.

(Caution: Incoming unorthodox shortcut.) Dump the dry ingredients onto the batter without mixing in. With a spoon, lightly combine them right on top but still without incorporating into the wet batter. Now use the mixer to combine the dry ingredients and wet batter but just until barely combined. (Too much mixing will create small holes in the bread when it bakes.)

Turn the batter into a well-greased bread pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn onto a rack to finish cooling. Slice and serve! And shhh! No sharing our low-fat secret!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Slice: 162 Cal (11% from Fat); 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 33g Carb; 2g Fiber; 191mg Sodium; 31mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 3 points

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love the uniquly identifiable inner surface of banana bread!

Really, no sharing? :)

Alana, what do you like to use to figure out nutritional content for recipes?

2/08/2006
 
Okay mcauliflower, YOU can share. But no one else, okay? Re: nutrition analysis, I use software called AccuChef. It's a little clunky but I love the import feature, also how easy it is (once you figure it out) to add your own ingredients. I'd be happy to give some tips if you get it -- also I've had good experience w their technical support.

And on a related note, I definitely recommend analyzing what you cook -- especially beforehand for doing what-ifs, What if I use less butter? cut the cheese in half? reduce the portion size? I've learned SO MUCH, doing this, it's completely changed how I cook.

2/08/2006
 
Thanks- this is right up my geek alley.

I've been looking at some of the free analyzers online, but their technical help is nonexistent, and their databases seem to be overloaded with brandname products! i understand how that's useful, but to someone like me who doesn't want to know the info on *$ brand granola bar- just wants plain old oatmeal stats, its a bit frustrating to wade through everything.

I guess that was a suffient side note rant! :)

2/08/2006
 
It was delicious! I used the whole wheat flour and turbinado sugar (less than recommended). I didn't have walnuts or pecans so I added almonds. From another recipe, I saw that they added bourbon so I used about 1 tablespoon.
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna