Adventures in Vegan Baking

BY NANCY HALA

Vegan baking takes a lot of nerve. First you have to step away from the butter and eggs, which in itself is an act of bravery. Because you know in your heart that butter and eggs are the path to a delicious, decadent dessert that everyone will love, and by extension they will love you, which is why we bake in the first place. To be loved.

Then, if you’re really going to try to make something healthy, you have to put away the refined sugar and white flour too. So now you’re setting yourself up for full blown disaster. In my vegan baking experience I have had some hits, and many misses. Notably one extremely unsuccessful batch of brownies.

But this banana bread with walnuts and raisins is a winner. It’s gluten-free, made with coconut and oat flours, and sweetened with a combo of apple sauce and a touch of maple syrup.

I’ve always loved banana bread. It somehow embodies the feeling of home. Plus it smells great baking and it’s a perfect snack or breakfast. It’s also the only solution for what to do with browning bananas that you don’t want to throw away because you’re not a wastrel.

In the old days, my banana bread recipe called for a cup of sugar, a stick of butter, eggs, even sour cream. Was it delicious? YES. But if you’re willing to eat all that you might as well just have a candy bar. This recipe is rich and sweet and tasty but also super healthy. Which in the end makes it so much better, all around. What a discovery. Enjoy.

Banana Bread with Walnuts and Raisins

SERVES: many

TOTAL TIME: 90 min.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup coconut flour

3/4 cup oat flour

2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 ½ cups pureed overly ripe banana (about 4 bananas)

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/2  cup plain almond milk

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2  cup chopped walnuts

1/2  cup raisins

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350

In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flours, flaxseed, baking soda, cinnamon and salt).

In a larger bowl prepared the pureed banana — just mash them up with a fork until they are a chunky liquid.

Add the syrup, almond milk, applesauce and vanilla to the banana. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

Mix in the walnuts and raisins.

Pour into a bread loaf pan. You can wipe the loaf pan with a tiny bit of coconut oil first to prevent sticking, OR – and I love this method – line the pan with parchment paper. You can fold the paper over the sides. Makes it so easy to take out.

Bake for 50 – 60 minutes (depending on your oven), until you can stick a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean. This bread is very moist so do not under-bake it, the texture will be too soft if you do.

Let cool on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before turning out of the bread pan.

Slice and eat.

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NANCY HALA

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