Sunday, April 08, 2018

Perfect (cough *GF* cough) Banana Bread

Where does the time go? Honestly. Forgive me. Because I know there is nowhere else on the internet you can go for recipes! [crying-laughing emoji] Life sure gets busy, no? We’ve been marching for gun control and packing lunches. Despairing over injustice and reading excellent books. I have been awake more than usual in the night and also going religiously to zumba. I have been an asshole and a good friend, mortified and happy and compassionate and irate in equal measure.

We’ve been watching America’s Funniest Home Videos before bed, in the hope that it will help us all sleep, and we laugh, because the people and animals are so wonderfully crazy, everybody getting hit in the crotch because of  piƱatas, and also some of it is so depressingly sad and weird, and people actually get hurt, and I never know what to think anymore. Or sometimes, maybe, I still do.

Anyways, as many of you know if you’re been following along, we are dealing with an Extreme Gluten-Free Situation in our household, and I am doing more baking than ever, trying to nail certain favorite things and create certain other new favorite things. This banana bread is the former, and it’s absolutely perfect: tender-crumbed and moist without being gummy; deeply browned and crunchy-edged without being gritty. 

Only other GF bakers will understand why I need to praise this bread in reverse, by listing its un-negative qualities. There are just so many pitfalls! Like the thing where a loaf or cake comes gloriously out of the oven looking glorious? Only then what it really is is a gorgeous shell filled with a kind of treasure trove of inglorious raw batter.

If you are not catering to the non-glutens, then use whatever mix of flour you like, and it will be delicious! Still totally worth making, because it is actual good banana bread, I promise, not some weird diet loaf. Unless you’re on a weird diet! And then make it with apple water and aloe dust, or whatever you need to do. I am with you 100%. Believe me.

That is an insanely delicious product called "vanilla creme fraiche" that arrives in vast donated cases at the soup kitchen where I volunteer. Soup and vanilla creme fraiche for all! It is crazily good, but cream cheese would be a fine thing to spread on your already-moist banana bread, if you found it just needed a certain something.
Perfect Banana Bread (that is gluten-free—or not)
I think I already said everything I wanted to say up top. xo

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 cup sugar (I use ½ white sugar and ½ coconut sugar, but you could use a mix of white and brown sugars, or whatever you like. It doesn’t really matter.)
2 ripe bananas (you could use a 3rd banana and skip the sour cream, but I wouldn't)
Sour cream (around ½ cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour (see note below)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
¼ cup small gluten-free oats—the instant kind—or regular gluten-free oats buzzed briefly in a blender

Heat the oven to 350 and grease and flour a loaf pan.

Cream together the butter and sugar in an electric mixer, and leave it creaming while you mash the bananas. Measure the bananas and add enough sour cream to make 1 ½ cups. Stir in the vanilla.

While the butter and sugar is STILL creaming, sift or whisk together the flour(s), baking soda, and salt. Stir in the oats.

Now add the eggs, one at a time, to the creamed butter, beating each one in well. Add the banana mixture and beat well again, then add the dry ingredients and beat just until mixed. (I’m never sure, if you’re using gf flour, if it even matters if you overbeat something! I mean, there’s no gluten to develop, so who really gives a fuck? But still I err on the side of caution because #goodgirl.)

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake for 55 minutes, or until the loaf looks done and a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs on it. Cool briefly in the pan—3 minutes?—then tip onto a cooling rack and really, really try to cool it completely, or for at least ½ hour, before slicing.

Note about the flour: I use 1/3 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (from Trader Joe’s), 1/3 cup coconut flour, and 1/3 cup of this crazy and delicious whole-grain flour I mix up to make the beautiful breads from this book. That blend is equal parts brown-rice flour, teff flour, sorghum flour, and (gf) oat flour. I know. I might as well add bone meal and pine starch, but what can I tell you. It’s a blend I love. And it has xanthan gum in it—around 1 teaspoon per cup of flour, I think, is how it works out. What I recommend is using either ½ cup of a flour with xanthan gum in it, or adding 1/2 teaspoon to the recipe if none of your flours have xanthan gum. Does that make sense? (I just drank a beer really quickly.)

You could just use 1 ½ cups of your favorite GF flour, or try a mix of almond, oat, rice, whatever you think would be good. Please report back!

A note about oats: Oats are only gluten-free if they say they're gluten-free, and this is for one of two reasons: some oats are grown in fields where wheat seeds blow in and grow companionably alongside, everyone harvested all together to the bellyache of unsuspecting celiac folks; other oats grow unaccompanied by wheat, but are processed in gluten-contaminated facilities. Gluten-free oats are safely unmolested by other sneaky grains.