Maple-Date Banana Bread

Happy Thanksgiving!  Do you have your stretchy pants ready?  Marshmallows for the sweet potatoes?  Tofurkey roast defrosting?  Oh, who am I kidding?  Of course you do.  After all, Thanksgiving dinner is the meal we’ve all been preparing for all month, isn’t it?  You don’t need me to tell you what to have for dinner tonight.  But… have you considered Thanksgiving breakfast?  I mean, that is, if you’re not fasting in preparation for the big meal.  If you’re looking for some last-minute easy but festive breakfast to fuel you up for the Turkey Trot or the parade-watching… well, look no further, friends.  I have one.  This is a simple, but moist and delicious, banana bread.  It’s literally ready in two shakes of a turkey’s tail.  And it’s basically fat-free and sweetened with nothing but maple syrup and fruit.  So there ya go, you can feel good about indulging in a slice of this bad boy.

See you at the Turkey Trot!

Maple-Date Banana Bread

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
1/2 cup diced dates
2 medium-large bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt).  Set aside.
  • In small mixing bowl, beat together applesauce and maple syrup until combined.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in chopped dates, mashed banana, and vanilla extract, one ingredient at a time.
  • When wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add to dry ingredients and fold together until just combined.  Transfer to loaf pan and bake for between 1 and 1 1/4 hours.  Remove from oven when a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out almost clean (there will probably be a little bit of banana stuck to it; don’t worry about that).  Allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving (if you can!).

Source: Loosely adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, by Nigella Lawson (Amazon link for convenience only; I am not an affiliate).

Banana Crunch Bread

Over the weekend, I got the urge to bake.  That hasn’t happened in awhile, so I went with it.  I pulled some ripe bananas out of the freezer (I have a stash – impressed?) and looked for a fun new banana bread recipe.  I found a recipe for “Banana Crunch Muffins” in the original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook – holy granola, how’d I miss those? – and quickly adapted it to a quickbread and a little healthier (in certain ways) than the original.  I subbed in a cup of whole wheat flour for one of the three cups of all purpose (you can’t even taste it, I promise, and if you want to be even healthier you could bump it up to a cup and a half), and I replaced the butter with applesauce, which is a standard baking move of mine.  Then I cut the sugar almost in half and celebrated my healthiness by adding 3/4 cup of chocolate chips.  BOOYAH!  Just when you think you have me figured out, I go and completely change the game on you.  Don’t even try to keep up!

Just make the bread, okay?

Banana Crunch Bread

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup skim milk
1 cup applesauce
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 cup granola
1 ripe banana, diced

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spray two loaf pans (or one loaf pan and one mini muffin pan) with baking spray (such as PAM for Baking or Baker’s Joy).  Set aside.
  • Sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk to combine and set aside.
  • In another mixing bowl, combine mashed banana, eggs, vanilla, milk and applesauce.
  • Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all combined, being careful not to overmix.
  • Fold in chocolate chips, granola, and diced banana.
  • Divide mixture into loaf pans and bake for 60-65* minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (If you are making one loaf and a batch of mini muffins, bake together for 25 minutes, then remove the mini muffins and continue baking the loaf for another 35-40 minutes.)

*Nota Baker: My oven runs cool, so it took me the full 65 minutes to get my one loaf of banana bread fully cooked, although the mini muffins were out after 25 minutes.  It’s key to know your oven!  Start at the low end of the time range I’ve given and test with a toothpick or cake tester every 5 minutes to see if your loaf is done yet.  Better to babysit the loaf for 10-15 minutes or so at the end of the cooking process than to burn it and waste all those wonderful chocolate chips!

Yield: Two loaves of banana bread or one loaf and one batch of mini muffins.

Source: Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, by Ina Garten (not an Amazon affiliate link)

Also, just for fun… here I am just after running 10 miles!  Do I look thirsty?