High Country Baking: Whole wheat banana bread
High Country Baking
Editor’s note: High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Get out your scissors, this one’s a keeper.
It’s a high-altitude version of banana bread — an American delicacy that’s been a favorite for generations. The recipe yields a classic loaf, like Grandma used to make, with the distinctive banana flavor and moist texture that everyone loves. And, if that isn’t enough to win you over, this one also boasts a healthy dose of whole grains to add complexity to its taste and heighten its wholesome goodness.
The recipe comes together with such ease that even the baker will sing its praises. Combine the dry ingredients, then the wet ones, mix and bake. It’s in the oven in 10-15 minutes. For good flavor, your bananas must be really ripe, well beyond the point at which you would skin and eat them. And, to assure a delicate texture, use white whole-wheat flour, which is available in most grocery stores and online.
Whole Wheat Banana Bread
Adjusted for altitudes of 8,000 feet and above
Make in a 7½ x 3½ inch metal loaf pan (4 cup capacity)
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon white whole-wheat flour (spoon and level)
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped walnuts
2 medium-sized bananas, very ripe
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup minus 1 (one) tablespoon superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Line the long sides and bottom of the pan with non-stick aluminum foil or regular foil, extending it several inches beyond the pan sides to use as handles when removing the baked bread. If using regular foil, grease the entire pan (foil, too) with a vegetable oil-flour spray; if using non-stick foil, spray the unlined parts of the pan. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk both flours, the baking soda, baking powder, salt and nuts to combine well.
3. Cut the bananas into 1-inch pieces and pack them into a 1-cup measure until they fill it (you may not use all of the bananas). Dump them in a mixing bowl and use a large fork to mash the pieces until only a few small lumps remain. Add the oil, sugar, egg, milk and vanilla and stir until blended.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, level and smooth it. Combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping and sprinkle it evenly over the top.
5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the top comes out clean, about 45 minutes. If the top is golden brown before the batter is baked, tent it with a sheet of aluminum foil. Move the pan to a rack, cool 7-10 minutes, then use the foil handles to remove the bread from the pan and return it to the rack to cool completely. Store, wrapped airtight for a day or two at cool room temperature or freeze for a month. It’s best the day after it’s baked, when the flavors have had time to meld.
This recipe is a variation of one from King Arthur Flour.
Vera Dawson, author of the new high-altitude cookbook Cookies in the Clouds, (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco), is a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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