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Recipe: Blueberry Pecan Banana Bread

The product of a spurt of inspiration, mixed with the fact that I’ve been meaning to bake a loaf of banana bread for what must be 3 months (the 3-dz eggs I’ve sadly thrown away to date attests to the fact) but haven’t found the time to bake (let alone eat the finished product).*

Finding myself with a few hours last week, I took to the freezer (where I had my over-ripen bananas waiting for me) and my pantry. Sadly, I didn’t restock on eggs (given the previously reported wastage) and took it upon myself to bake an egg-less creation. Or two.

When I stumbled on a recipe for olive oil banana bread (no eggs nor dairy) I knew I had solved my egg-less dilemma, but I couldn’t go without the dairy. My usual go to recipes do include eggs and butter. Some have yogurt or sour cream, but none have been vegan. I packed away the butter, deciding to try the fruitier olive oil (why not) but did include some Greek yogurt I had in the fridge. I had also run out of brown sugar since my last baking spell and had lots of dried nuts (great snacks!) in the pantry. I tweaked some other quantities of staple ingredients and pretty much changed 50% of the recipe.

The final product was quite excellent, if I do say so myself. Since I didn’t have to cream any butter, there was no mixer needed, making clean up simple. The overall texture reminds me very much of commercial banana breads in terms of greasy moistness and fine crumb (hmmm….) and it has relatively good shelf life. To explain: normally, my loaves don’t last longer than 1-2 days. Hey, I love banana bread, but the fact that I baked two at the same time, that my current occupations/eating habits means I rarely eat at home except for breakfast and midnight snacks. So the loaves survived for almost a week(!) in my cake carrier. I guess it’s the lack of eggs and dairy coupled with the fact that the breads were mainly sugar and oil that preserved them this way? Either way, they were as moist as day 1.

Tasting notes: The only difference between this blueberry pecan banana bread and the walnut version is exactly that: this one had plump dried wild blueberries and pecan pieces, the other walnut halves and pieces. The result of the increased sugars and moisture from the dried blueberries was a slightly sweeter, jammier and more moist banana bread. So it’s really personal preference.

My recipe for egg-free and olive oil-based banana bread:

Ingredients:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar (see below for option)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil**
1/5 cups mashed, ripe bananas (about 3 large bananas)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional mix-ins:
1 cup walnut halves and pieces, toasted
OR
3/4 cup dried sweetened blueberries (reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup pecan pieces
OR
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarsely

Method:
1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper.
2) In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the fruit/nut/chocolate (optional).
3) In a big bowl, mix together olive oil, banana, yogurt and vanilla extract. Fold the flour mixture into the liquid mixture in two batches until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. 55 – 68 minutes (it took the latter for me, likely because I had two loaves in the oven at the same time).
4) Allow loaf to cool on a wire rack. Remove and enjoy. Loaf keeps for up to one week if covered and stored properly.

* This is sadly the same reason why George II, my starter, has not been fed for a while. I fear he’s going to suffer the same final burial as George I.

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