Monday, October 24, 2011

Tropical Banana Bread

Tropical Banana Bread

Consider the banana.

If you're living in North America or Western Europe, it's a safe bet that you have a bunch in your fruit basket. They're the most popular fruit in the the US, purchased and eaten more than even our native apple.

But ubiquitous as the banana is, it's an interloper, a triumph of commerce over nature. It's a fragile and highly perishable fruit that (with a few small-scale exceptions) grows in the tropics. Bananas only began to appear in the US and UK a little over a century ago, when refrigerated containers made import feasible; more recent innovations in banana husbandry and distribution read like something out of sci-fi. (For more on these modern miracles, check out this article from Saveur magazine.)

When World War Two severed supply lines between England and the tropics, some banana lovers sculpted simulacra out of boiled parsnips. To many children growing up under food rationing, a banana was as fantastical as a unicorn's horn. As a mid-war morale booster, the British government arranged to distribute a special consignment of bananas to young children around the country. Years later the writer Auberon Waugh, son of novelist Evelyn Waugh, remembered how banana day utterly failed to boost morale at his house:

'They were put on my father's plate, and before the anguished eyes of his children he poured on cream, which was almost unprocurable, and sugar, which was heavily rationed, and ate all three. From that moment, I never treated anything he had to say on faith or morals very seriously."

By the time I was growing up in the '70s, bananas were back. We ate them or didn't, but never paid them much mind until such time as they turned black and gathered around them small storm clouds of fruitflies. Then it was time to render them into banana bread, bricklike in both shape and specific gravity.

Although I've eaten my share of banana bread, I've only recently done so with much enthusiasm. Trolling for recipes on the website of health food manufacturer Navitas Naturals, I found a recipe that honors the banana's essential exoticism by matching it with coconut oil and palm sugar. It smells as if you haven't so much baked it as left it laying on the beach to work on its tan.

Banana Bread
(this recipe is based on the original by Julie Morris; I have adapted it to make up for the fact that I don't have a kitchen full of Navitas products, although I imagine it would be even more delicious with them.)

2T + 1/2c ground flaxseed
1/2c palm sugar or evaporated cane juice
1/2c melted coconut oil
1/3c water
1 1/2c whole wheat flour
1T baking powder
1T cinnamon or ground cardamon (optional)
1t baking soda
1t salt
2T maple syrup
1 1/4c mashed overripe banana
1/2c chopped walnuts

Mix 2T of flaxseed with the water and set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.

Combine the rest of the flaxseed with the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spice.

In another bowl, combine the melted coconut oil with the sugar, wet flax, and maple syrup, and mix well. (If your palm sugar is very hard, it may be easier to melt it over low heat as you melt the coconut oil). Fold in the mashed bananas and nuts and pour into a greased loaf pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 until it passes the toothpick test (although since there are no eggs, you can safely undercook if, like me, you prefer your baked goods a little on the googly side).


Allison Manch said...

i really like this banana bread photo. did you shoot it?

Las Vegas Golf Deals said...

I for one love banana bread. My wife makes it often. It is so rich with a ton of butter. I will give her your recipe to try - It sounds great. Thank you, and thanks for the cool history lesson as well.

Hotel charme Marrakech said...

Wow! good banana bread..

golf cleveland said...

MMMMMMM! I love bananas...and by the way, a banana has every nutrient a human needs to sustain life! It is the perfect food!

travel umroh said...

yummy very like this hmmmm...