So many incredible things happen in the world, by accident. Fortuitous accidents in medicine have led to the discovery of quinine, the small pox vaccination and x-rays. Artists like Da Vinci and Cozens searched for inspiration in the dirt on walls and streaks on stones; deliberate use of accidental imperfections which helped shape an entire art movement and created masterpieces. In fashion, Calvin Klein got his start because a coat buyer got off the elevator on the wrong floor and stepped into Klein’s workroom. He then proceeded to place a $50,000 order for coats. Seriously!
Although kitchen mishaps can often be dangerous, sometimes unlucky things happen for a reason. That’s the case with this banana bread, which we feel is too good not to share in Our Kouppes. One of us (incidentally, the one who our parents claim was an accident!) loves baking, and banana bread is a specialty. One day, after the bananas were mashed and many of the ingredients were already combined, it was realized that there were no eggs in the fridge. Not a single one. It was cold out, and the idea of running to the neighbours or to the store to get some eggs was less than appealing. And then, a memory popped up of having read something about using flax as an egg substitute. What was there to lose? Feeling daring, a few more substitutions were made, and what resulted was a banana bread which was vegan and consequently, perfect for nistea (Greek Orthodox fasting). How lucky! And how delicious!
This banana bread is loaded with bananas; 8 to be exact! The key to a deliciously moist banana bread is to use bananas that are very, very ripe…maybe even overripe. If your bananas are ripening and close to the point of rotting, but you are not ready to make your bread (or you don’t have enough bananas), toss them in the freezer. Although you can peel them and slice them up to freeze, the easiest way is to simply put them in the freezer, whole and with the peel on. Freezing will cause the peel to turn black…don’t panic. This is normal, and perfectly fine.
When you are ready to make your bread, defrost your bananas completely by placing them on the counter (in a bowl…they will release water and make a bit of a mess) for a few hours. Then, when you are ready to use them, with a sharp paring knife make some slits in the peel and slide the bananas right out. If you are rushed, you can speed up the process of defrosting your bananas by running them under hot water.
There are many ways to mash your bananas; you can use a fork or a potato masher, however the easiest way is to actually use the paddle attachment of your stand mixer. Mashed bananas in a flash!
The magic of this recipe is that flaxseeds actually replace the eggs. In order to replace one egg in most recipes, you use one tablespoon of ground flaxseed (which you can buy as flax meal, or which you can grind yourself using a coffee or spice grinder) and 2 1/2 tablespoons of water. Mix well, and voila! An egg…sort of. Perfect for most baking, but less perfect for, let’s say, an omelette.
This recipe makes a lot of banana bread. Usually, we end up with a bundt pan and a loaf pan, although you can also make 3 loaf pans if you prefer. If this is more banana bread than you can handle, simply wrap the extra in plastic wrap, place it in a freezer bag, and freeze. When you have a craving, defrost it at room temperature and enjoy! It will be as good as the day you baked it.
The chocolate chips used in this recipe are vegan; if this is not a concern or requirement for you, simply use any chocolate chips or chocolate chunks that you like. You can also substitute the chocolate for crushed walnuts (maybe you have some left over from making melomakarona).
Mia Kouppa: Vegan banana bread
- 3 1/4 cups (810 ml) all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons (8 ml) baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) salt
- 4 tablespoons (60 ml) ground flaxseeds
- 10 tablespoons (150 ml) water
- 2 cups (500 ml) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) brown sugar
- 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable oil
- 8 medium bananas, very ripe
- 2 teaspoons (8 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups (330 ml) vegan chocolate chips
- vegetable oil for greasing pans
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare your pans by greasing them lightly. We usually use one bundt pan and one loaf pan, although you can use 3 loaf pans, for this recipe. Line the loaf pans with parchment paper after greasing them, for easier clean-up.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- Prepare your flax egg substitute by combining the ground flax and the water in a small bowl. Mix well. Set aside.
- Place your peeled bananas in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mash your bananas. Transfer the mashed bananas to another bowl, and set aside. It is not necessary to wash the bowl of the stand mixer.
- To the bowl of your stand mixer add the ground flax and water mixture, the sugar and the oil. Beat well.
- Turn the speed to low, and carefully add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture. Turn the speed to medium and mix until well combined.
- With the speed turned back down to low, add the mashed bananas and the vanilla. Mix well, scraping the sides and bottom of your mixing bowl to ensure that all is well combined.
- Finally, add the chocolate chips and mix.
- When your banana bread dough is ready, transfer it to your prepared pans. There should be 2 – 3 inches of space between the top of your baking pans and the dough.
- Place baking pans in the center of your preheated oven and bake for approximately 60 minutes.
- A toothpick inserted into the center of your cake should come out clean, indicating that your cakes are done.
- Remove your cakes from the oven and allow to rest for approximately 5 minutes before removing them from the pans. Allow to cool completely on a wire baking rack. Enjoy!