Colorful Cooking column: Turn basic banana bread into tasty French toast
Raise your hand if you have a couple of bananas in your freezer? Banana bread time! Bananas and plantains are the most produced and traded fruit worldwide. A ripe banana has more banana flavor than its green counterpart.
Quick bread takes about an hour to make and is a mess, so there is really nothing fast about it. Quick bread was created to feed the hungry during the Civil War. Using a leavening agent like baking soda and powder instead of yeast or eggs cuts production time down dramatically. It may take an hour and some elbow grease, but the end result is a cinnamon smelling home and hot, soft, sweet bread for snack.
My kids love quick breads so I tried to “healthy” up a traditional recipe; it didn’t really work. Reducing the sugar slightly and adding a little whole wheat flour is a start. One day, my youngest was helping me make the bread and she asked, “Mom, can I stick my head in the bowl like a bear?”
I said no, but when I left the room and returned she had cake batter in her hair. This is now a staple snack in our house, perfect for the lunch box and totally awesome when made into coconut French toast.
Bananas are good for your body: a quick snack that is always available and inexpensive. Studies suggest that bananas may help combat depression by delivering tryptophan, an amino acid your body converts into serotonin. They say oats do the same thing, so if you’re feeling blue about the colder weather coming in, then eat some banana bread. Your house will be cozy and your mind will be happy. Plus, bananas have lots of fiber and protein.
This is a basic recipe that I have found that works well at this altitude. If you want to mix in chocolate chips or chopped nuts, then mix it into the batter and use about 1/4 cup.
If you want to make a decorative topping, add oatmeal, flaxseed, chia seeds or walnuts about 35 minutes into cook time so they sink into the batter but don’t get swallowed.
Basic banana bread
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
2 mashed bananas
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds from one vanilla pod
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in mixer. Add eggs and blend until combined. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix into batter, 1⁄3 cup at a time. Pour in water, bananas, cinnamon and vanilla. If using real vanilla, slice the pod lengthwise and use the tip of a knife to scrape out the pulp. Place pulp in mixer.
Mix well until fluffy batter appears, about 2 minutes. Place batter in greased bread loaf pan and cook for 35 minutes at 350 degrees, turn pan in oven and cook 15-18 more minutes. This is the time to sprinkle extras on the top.
To make French toast: Combine 2 eggs, 3/4 cup light coconut milk, 1/4 cup sweetened, shredded coconut and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Allow bread to cool until firm and slice into eight pieces. Dip banana bread in egg mixture, coat all sides, allow excess to fall off. Heat non-stick pan over medium and melt butter in pan. Cook banana bread about 3 minutes each side.
Tracy Miller is the in-house chef for TV8, teaches cooking classes at CMC in Edwards and will be featured in the upcoming “Ski Town Apres” cookbook. Join her at The Bookworm of Edwards on Nov. 18 for a catered book event. Contact Tracy at email@example.com.