Saturday, October 15, 2011

Gluten Free Banana Bread

I'm a proponent of good food. That's where it begins and that's where it ends. What happens in between often times turns into a food fight in the arena of debate. I'm not going to bore you with some philosophical, medical, social or ecological reason for becoming gluten free. Hell, I'm not gluten free. But, I would like to challenge the naysayers out there, the traditionalists, to open your eyes to the possibilities of variety.

Once upon a time we were lucky enough to have hundreds, thousands of varieties of wheat, corn, potatoes and so many other fruits, vegetables, beans and grains. With the proliferation of small farms and farmer's markets, along with a growing interest in food, we've been granted access to many of these strains, atleast the ones that haven't been lost for good. And while artisanal multi-grain breads are sought after, and even held in as high regard as their white bread brethren, gluten free products are still looked down upon by many. I'm not arguing the idea that the traditional baguette, the one you find on any street in Paris, with it's crisp outer crust and aerated, chewy center, can be improved upon as a gluten free, or even a multi-grain bread. However, there is a place for less-than-traditional styles of baking.

Recently, while at work, I had some bananas that turned past their prime and decided to bake some banana bread for my client. In the cabinet with all the other baking ingredients, I stumbled upon a completely new ingredient, atleast new to me: Timothy grass flour. I have known Timothy grass as something you feed to rabbits and hamsters, but had never even considered it for human consumption. It turns out that Timothy grass, with its mellow nutty flavor,  is extremely high in protein and fiber (17% each) and is naturally gluten free. I decided to give it a try, mixed it with some other gluten free flours, and while not surprised by the result, I was overjoyed with the finished product...which turned out to be finished quite quickly by all who consumed it.

The Timothy grass flour I used came from Montana and you can find it here. When I think of Montana, cattle, wild game and perhaps anti-government militiamen come to mind. Add gluten free flour to that mix.

Here's the recipe:


1 teaspoon olive oil
10 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 large bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup Timothy grass flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup chestnut flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded coconut


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly grease your loaf pan(s) or muffin cups with the olive oil*

Puree the bananas, sour cream, eggs and vanilla in a blender.

Sift the flours, sugar, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fixed with a whisk attachment. Turn the mixer on low to mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and mix on medium-low until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the banana mixture in 3 batches, mixing on medium and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Fold in the coconut.

Spoon into the loaf pan(s) or muffin cups and even out the mixture. Bake until lightly browned and bread bounces back. Depending on the size of the loaf pan(s) or muffin cups, baking time could vary between 15 minutes and 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

*I split my batter between a small loaf pan and mini muffin cups and the bake times were 45 and 15 minutes, respectively.