Before I begin to weave a narrative, I have to start by saying that this banana bread recipe is one of those very special recipes that I needed to share on the double. It’s the best gluten-free and vegan banana bread in town. (Mind you, I live in a pretty small town…) I’m “bananas” about this, if you will. I hope you all make this.
Now, today’s story.
I’ve really fallen behind on baking over the past year. Baking is something I associate with free time––of which I have little. The truth is, I’m not a very advanced (/enthusiastic) baker. I can bake and do bake simple things like cookies and fuss-free cakes, but for the most part, I prefer to buy dessert or eat dessert that someone else has made. My sister-in-law, whom I’ve known for over 15 years now, is a very accomplished, advanced baker. My mother was the same, whipping up pies and butter tarts that could take your breath away. My dad even used to bake bread in his spare time before he had three terribly time-consuming children. With all of this baking skill around me, I wish I could say I was just as good. I think a lot of it comes down to patience.
Baking, like cooking, is a skill that must be honed. I prefer savoury endeavours in my kitchen: moving onions around in a pan, stirring soups, etc. Except for baking banana bread––banana bread I’ve got down. I also find the task a touch therapeutic, allowing me to both chill and reminisce. The first banana bread (it was in muffin form, but same batter) I made was my grade 2 librarian’s banana muffin recipe; a recipe that can still be found in my mom’s old timey recipe box that I keep in my kitchen. It has those well-loved batter splatters, torn edges, and notations that say a lot about how it’s going to taste.
But, my mom’s old recipe box doesn’t just have this primary school banana muffin recipe, oh no. It also includes such hits as, “Boiled Dressing,” and, “Brad’s Bean Soup” (I have no idea who “Brad” is, but apparently he made a killer bean soup). And, my personal favourite, the unironically-named, “Wacky Cake.” While this box is sentimental, it’s also ornamental (i.e. I never make anything from it).
Allow me to share a sample of the recipes from this treasure trove. One of the titles (bottom right) seems politically incorrect, which doesn’t surprise me, considering it was penned in the early 70s.
See it? Yeah.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this banana bread is much better (and likely more politically correct) than my old librarian’s banana muffins. It has a nicer texture. It’s sweetened with maple syrup (in season now, get it while it’s hot) which lends a lovely, rich flavour. It’s made gluten-free with millet and rice flour, but doesn’t crumble or taste like cardboard. It’s safer for those with celiac disease as there’s no oat flour. It’s vegan, with chia seeds in lieu of eggs. And it’s got a whole lotta sass thanks to some tropical coconut and banana garnish.
For all the Gluten-Free 101 bakers out there, this bread is pretty foolproof. You could jazz it up and add chocolate chips, however, I really don’t think it needs a single extra thing.
I feel a bit odd being so overly enthusiastic about banana bread, but my gawd, it’s good.
In other news, do you know how hard it is to make a bunch of ripe bananas and banana bread look sexy? Very. I had to pull out my very best “Austin Powers at a photoshoot“ for this recipe.
- 8 very ripe bananas, divided
- 1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted OR extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup millet flour (buy or make your own: grind 1 cup whole millet in blender until fine flour forms)
- 1 cup white rice flour (buy or make own: in blender as per millet directions above)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
- Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line 2 standard loaf pans with parchment paper, leaving overhang for easy removal.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, mash 6 bananas until smooth. Stir in remaining wet ingredients; set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients except coconut. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients; stir until fully combined. Stir in coconut.
- Divide batter evenly between prepared loaf tins, smoothing out tops. Top each loaf with slices of remaining two bananas. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store loaves well-covered in refrigerator, or freeze for up to 2 months.