So it came to my attention that I had never done a blog post on banana bread. This is kind of surprising to me because I’m pretty sure banana bread was one of the first things I ever baked successfully on my own. I had made cookies and stuff before but those were usually kind of not very tasty because my mom would always want me to only put half the sugar in, and then the cookies would fail terribly because a) they would taste gross and b) because the actual structure of the cookies themselves needed the caramelizing effect of the sugar to be stable.
The first time I had ever baked banana bread, it was the summer after my second year of my undergrad; I was working as a traffic counter for the City of Ottawa. What is a traffic counter you ask? Well if you’ve ever driven around Ottawa between May and September, you may see one or two people sitting on the side of the road in lawn chairs for about 8 hours of the day (more specifically, between 7 and 10, 11:30 and 1:30, and 3 and 6), with an orange or blue little metal box with yellow buttons in their laps. Those are traffic counters. They are literally counting every car/pedestrian that passes by for the traffic engineers at the City of Ottawa. I was never really clear as to what this information was used for, but I’m pretty sure it’s so that they can implement new traffic lights, bike lanes, etc. The best example I can think of is the bike lanes on Laurier Ave.—I’m pretty sure the traffic results were significantly involved in that whole ordeal.
Anyway, the reason why I mentioned traffic counting was because that was the first summer I ever really had to regularly pack my own lunch. If I didn’t, I’d be forced to go search out some sort of food joint and stuff my face until I went back to counting. This wasn’t always easy because some parts of Ottawa are a barren wasteland. I may have had to pee behind a bush a couple times. Anyway, the issue was that if I wasn’t eating while I was counting, the combo of nice weather, lulling sound of cars passing by and the mundane task of count cars would make me fall asleep. No joke. I had to eat to keep myself awake. Banana bread was one of the first things I baked for this, and I’m pretty sure the zucchini bread I made back when I first started this blog was also a popular feature in my lunches that summer.
Now that I have a 9-5 office job (I actually work 8:30-4:30 because that extra half hour in the afternoon makes all the difference when it comes to my productivity after work), I need to make my own lunches or else I’ll join the rest of the 9-5 workers in downtown Ottawa (there are a lot, trust me, I had to count the Laurier/Bank intersection and there were like 200 people crossing every 15 minutes during lunch time. So much clicking D8) and I’d have to wait in line forEVER just to get some food.
Plus I’d rather make my own lunches, it gives me an excuse to blog something!
Like I’ve mentioned countless times before, I am very particular about how I like my bananas. I don’t like it when they’re too sweet; I love them when they’re tinged green or perfectly yellow. The second they get brown spots, I need to bake them into something because they are too sweet for me =P So when I saw that these were over-ripened, I decided to make a slightly healthier banana bread using agave nectar instead of white granulated sugar.
Agave nectar is a syrup that is made from agave, which resembles a cactus, and is way better for you than granulated sugar. White sugar has been refined, over-processed, and frankly isn’t really that sweet. Agave nectar is naturally sweeter than white sugar and has a lower glycemic index (eating foods with a higher glycemic index increase the risk of developing type II diabetes). You end up using less of it for the same amount of sweetness! Plus it’s perfect for drinks because you don’t need to make a simple syrup of white sugar, it’s already syrup, and a little goes a long way. Perfect for iced tea! (I may be blogging about iced tea very soon).
I lost my favourite recipe for banana bread, so I found this one. It was kind of plain, so i added some spices to make it a bit tastier. I think I might even add some more spices the next time I bake this because it really could have used a bit more.
- 3 over-ripened bananas, mashed
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup agave nectar
- ⅓ cup oil
- ⅓ cup milk (2%)
- 2½ cups flour (feel free to substitute some whole wheat in there, I didn’t have any =P)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon (I recommend adding another ½ tsp)
- ½ tsp allspice (make this 1 tsp)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Mix together the bananas and eggs until you get a nice, lumpy mixture.
- Add the oil, milk, vanilla extract and agave nectar and mix until incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (salt, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice), and gradually incorporate it into the wet ingredients. You’ll have a rather thick, kind of lumpy batter. It’s thicker than cake mix, but obviously thinner than dough.
- In a well-greased loaf pan, muffin tin, or bundt pan, pour in the mixture. Bake at 350F for 60 minutes if you’re using a loaf pan, or 25-30 minutes if you’re using the muffin tin or bundt pan. Use a cake tester to poke in the middle and if it comes out clean, it’s ready. It should turn out to be a lovely golden brown. Nommms.