Friday, August 16, 2013

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

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It’s time for a confession:  I’ve had some trouble getting my Foodie mojo working this summer.  In part, that’s because I’ve been distracted by all the big changes taking place in the Foodie family:  The Girl getting ready to move away from home and go to college, The Boy learning to drive (and spontaneously deciding to become a vegetarian.  That’s right, Mr. Cheeseburger has decided there will be cheeseburgers no more.)  In part, it’s because the very hot weather in South Texas makes spending any time in the kitchen sound less than appealing.  And, in part, it’s because I’ve been pulled in many different work-related directions, which puts Foodie matters on the metaphorical back burner.

But.  One thing I have managed to do this summer is to perfect this recipe for gluten-free banana bread.  My mom is the queen of banana bread–whenever she comes for a visit, the Foodie children rejoice in the fact that she will no doubt make them a loaf (or two, or three) while she’s here.  No one makes banana bread like hers.  It’s moist, light, almost more like cake than bread.  But, sadly, her recipe just doesn’t work with gluten-free flours.  I’ve tried to bend it to my will, but finally I had to resign myself to the fact that a new recipe was in order.

That’s where this one comes in.  I’ve tried several different versions:  one made with Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend (which contains guar gum as a binder), one with half Pamela’s blend and half King Arthur Multi-Purpose Flour (gluten-free, but without guar gum or xanthan gum), and one made with the King Arthur flour blend and a little additional xanthan gum.  The Foodie family found all three versions very tasty, but we liked the texture of the last batch the best.  The first batch was a little more bouncy than what we prefer, and the second batch was a little crumbly.  The third provided a happy medium.  (However, if the gluten-free flour blend you typically use has guar or xanthan gum already added, go ahead and use it.  I tend to keep the Pamela’s blend on hand, simply because it’s ready to go and easy to use in place of wheat flour.)

One slightly unusual ingredient in this recipe is coconut extract, which isn’t entirely necessary–it’s just there for flavor.  I really like the combination of coconut and banana, but if you don’t have the extract on hand, don’t worry about leaving it out.   Just use vanilla and your bread will still be delicious.

However:   be sure to combine all the dry ingredients and stir them into the wet ingredients a little at a time as you’re making the batter.  Bananas are wet and heavy, which means they’ll settle to the bottom of the baking pan unless you’re careful to incorporate them thoroughly.

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Gluten-Free Banana Bread

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas, mashed well
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coconut extract

1 3/4 cup gluten-free flour blend
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 tsp. xanthan gum (leave this out if guar or xanthan gum is included in your flour blend)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Directions:

Preheat the oven the 350 degrees. Lightly coat a large loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, oil, and eggs. Add the extracts and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Use a dry whisk to mix these ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time, stirring to incorporate the dry ingredients after each addition. When everything has been combined, pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Your pan should be about 2/3 full of batter.

Bake for one hour, until the top of the loaf is nicely browned. A knife or toothpick inserted at the center of the loaf should come out clean, or with only a few moist crumbs sticking to it. As with all gluten-free baked goods, let the loaf cool completely before cutting it into slices, or the texture will be crumbly.

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