Whole Wheat Banana Bread.
No butter, no oil, 100% whole wheat, 100% actually tasting good.
I know I say I’m obsessed with a lot of recipes which may be convincing you that I’m either (1) out of my mind or (2) just really in love with a lot of food. Or both? Definitely both.
This whole wheat banana bread is absolutely no exception. It blew my mind. To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations. It was merely a way to get rid of 3 overly ripe bananas and a random jar of applesauce. I usually make banana bread with butter and/or oil because hello! That’s where all the goodness hides. Well well well. After 1 bite of this “whatever, it won’t be good” banana bread, I was left proven completely wrong.
Healthy ingredients CAN make incredible things.
Take that, full fat white flour banana bread.
Before we get into some details on the ingredients, let me tell you exactly how this deeply satisfying, yet lightened-up banana bread tastes. It’s hearty and thick. Pairs wonderfully with a cup of coffee in the morning. Dense and tight-crumbed like regular banana bread, but definitely not as sweet. The bread is slightly nutty from the whole wheat flour (and, uh, the walnuts) and tastes incredibly tender thanks to the bananas, applesauce, and eggs. You’ll taste a lot of pure banana flavor. Complimenting the banana’s flavor are vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, and honey. I am very light handed with those last two ingredients as I don’t want sugar to overpower the banana’s flavor.
√ Applesauce. Why? Applesauce takes the place of oil and butter in this banana bread recipe. I am very careful saying this because this isn’t a universal rule in the baking world. It requires testing. Oftentimes when applesauce is subbed for butter, you’re left with a very mediocre baked good. I would rather eat a plate of raw broccoli than pound cake made without butter. Ick. Some recipes just cannot be made without fat. But banana bread is not one of them. In fact, applesauce is a wonderful, healthier ingredient you can work into a lot of breads and muffins. Again, some testing is often needed before you land on the perfect combination of ingredients. If you’d like to include the wildly popular ingredient that I am personally obsessed with (see? obsessed)– coconut oil– then feel free to use that instead of applesauce. I’ll note that in the recipe notes for you.
√ Eggs. Why? Like I tell you all the time, eggs do about 1,000,000 things in baking. Binding, structure, texture, coagulating, emulsifying, and moisture to name a few. Most importantly, they provide some fat (i.e. richness) to this bread.
√ Bananas. Why? Well, duh. Besides the obvious reason (flavor!) the bananas lightly sweeten the bread. As I mention above, this banana bread isn’t overly sweet. Naturally sweet bananas are supplemented with a little honey and brown sugar. The mix of these three ingredients make the bread pleasantly sweet. You won’t feel like you just ate a banana bread sugar bomb. Not only this, bananas provide moisture. So much moisture! Bananas are a bread maker’s dream. Oftentimes, low fat baked goods are dull, flavorless, and (I shudder!) dry. Not this bread. Bananas, applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, and milk to the rescue. Talk about moisture!
Remember… the riper the bananas, the better. Go for yellow and spotty.
Like I mentioned last week, whole wheat flour is a finicky ingredient. It loves to be difficult! I’m here and I’m going to make every baked good I touch heavy and tough. To counteract with whole wheat flour’s… uh… hefty attitude, I add a little milk to lighten up the batter. Also, just the right amount of baking soda aerates the bread so you’re not left with a whole wheat hockey puck in your loaf pan.
There’s not much else to it! I don’t add any crazy ingredients; rather, just a few simple and healthful foods come together to make one surprisingly outstanding bread.
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Whole Wheat Banana Bread
No butter, no oil, 100% whole wheat, 100% actually tasting good.
- 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsweetened applesauce1
- 1/4 cup (72g) honey2
- 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (60ml) milk3
- 2 large eggs
- 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about a heaping 1 and 1/4 cups)
- 1 and 3/4 cups (215g) whole wheat flour (measured correctly)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup (67g) Diamond of California (my favorite!) chopped walnuts
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Lowering the oven rack prevents the top of your bread from browning too much too soon. Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the applesauce, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and milk together until combined. Then, whisk in the eggs and bananas until combined. The mixture should be smooth. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and walnuts together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly whisk until *just* combined. Absolutely do not overmix this batter. I like to add the walnuts to the dry ingredients rather than mixing them in last because it helps avoid overmixing. Overmixing = too heavy tasting.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60-65 minutes, making sure to loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil halfway through to prevent the top from getting too brown. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with only a few small moist crumbs. This may be before or after 60-65 minutes depending on your oven, so begin checking every 5 minutes at the 55 minute mark or so. I strongly suggest using an oven thermometer to test your oven's temperature.
- Allow the bread to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before slicing.
- Make ahead tip: The bread will stay fresh in an airtight container (it tastes better on day 2!) at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. But it won't last that long. For longer storage, baked bread can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
For 14-15 muffins, bake at 350F for around 18-20 minutes, give or take. Use a toothpick to test doneness.
- Melted coconut oil (or canola or vegetable oils) can be used instead of applesauce.
- Pure maple syrup or agave can be used instead of honey.
- I use skim milk, but any milk fat is OK. Soy, rice, coconut, and almond are also fine.
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I’m working with Diamond of California to bring you this recipe!