“See those bananas over there?”, I asked, tilting my head towards the end of the aisle at the health food store. “I’ll buy fifteen of ‘em for half price”, I suggested confidently. The cashier paused for a moment, not knowing whether to believe me. Why would anyone want to buy bananas that were almost more suitable for the compost bin than the kitchen for any price? “Sure”, he sighed. He knew they were garbage unless I took them in. I laughed to myself when I realized how excited I was to buy bananas that most people wouldn’t even think of eating. I started to feel bad about not liberating the others but I had to get home; there was work to do! How cool would it be to peel the bananas, purée them and slow cook them into a thick syrup to use as a base for fruit sweetened banana bread? Finally, something to do with all those bananas laying around in your freezer!
Overripe bananas are best for vegan banana bread
It turns out that this would be really cool. This Fruit Sweetened Vegan Banana Bread resulted in one of the most divine quick breads that I’ve ever made, rivaling only Yeasted Vegan Banana Bread
in depth of flavor. Why use dark, spotty bananas that are on their way out? When bananas are yellow they contain mostly starch. As they ripen the starch converts to fructose and the bananas actually get considerably sweeter. This is why when you bake with bananas, you always want them dark and spotty. This banana bread utilizes the less-is-more technique; I used less spices and no traditional banana bread additions like vanilla extract or walnuts because I really wanted to showcase the power of fifteen bananas. That’s right- there’s a full banana in almost every slice. The vegan banana bread is made up of mostly banana purée; since the sugars consist of natural fructose which inhibits ice crystal formation, the bread doesn’t even freeze solid.
What cramming tons of bananas does to your vegan banana bread
Since we’re cramming fifteen bananas into a single loaf of bread, this isn’t going to go like your normal quick bread baking endeavors with you whisking ever-so-happily as birds tweet in the background. This banana bread won’t rise as high as usual because there’s less flour and thus, less starches to swell with water and gluten to trap rising gas bubbles. Since the sugars are mostly fructose which is hydrophilic, aka water loving, this bread has to be baked considerably longer than traditional banana bread. Slow cooking the banana purée causes considerable browning and caramelization of the fructose sugars which lends a rich, dark color and flavor that is reminiscent of molasses. Your house is going to smell divine when you’re cooking this stuff down. Baking powder is unnecessary because the high level of acidity from the bananas pares perfectly with a substantial addition of baking soda to give the loaf the best ratio of rise and structure.
Fruit Sweetened Vegan Banana Bread Recipe
8 cups banana purée (about 15 dark bananas) cooked down to 3 ½ cups
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1) Cook your bananas down
Peel your bananas and discard the peels. Place the bananas in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker, set to low or 180F (82C), and cook while stirring occasionally until you have 3 ½ cups of banana purée. This should take about 16 hours.
2) Whisk the dry ingredients together
Preheat your oven to 325F (163C). Whisk the whole wheat flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. Lightly grease a loaf pan with canola oil and set aside.
3) Process the bananas purée with the flavor building ingredients
Add the reduced banana purée to the food processor and add the canola oil, coconut oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Process until smooth.
4) Mix the banana ingredients with the dry ingredients and bake to perfection
Pour the banana mixture into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until thoroughly incorporated. Mixing thoroughly will ensure that the gluten in the flour gets activated and assists with binding. Pour the mixture into a loaf pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached.
5) Let the vegan banana bread cool completely
Allow the loaf to cool completely before removing the banana bread. Carefully slice it in thin slices using a serrated knife. Store Vegan Fruit Sweetened Banana Bread in an air-tight plastic freezer bag in the refrigerator for up to one 1 or in the freezer for up to 3 months. I recommend storing it in the freezer and defrosting the slices in a toaster oven as-needed. This recipe makes one loaf of Fruit Sweetened Vegan Banana Bread.