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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Vegan banana bread: a recipe for the ages

Melissa Elle
Hey! I'm Melissa and I've been vegan for over five years, and vegetarian since I was a kid. I want to show that veganism can be accessible for all and that any meal can be veganised. On my Instagram I regularly showcase that veganism extends itself further than the food through beauty, health, style and that it is truly a lifestyle worth embarking on.

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The best way to use up sad-looking bananas languishing in the fruit bowl, vegan banana bread is one of the easiest recipes to master and packs a seriously tasty punch too.

Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

3 large overripe bananas (the browner, the better)
8 large Medjool dates
45g coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
120g self-raising flour (gluten-free if needed)
90g oat flour
1 tbsp oil (optional)

Method

  1. Start by putting the dates in a bowl of hot water to soak for at least half an hour. They should be very soft and squishy when you are ready to use them. Remove the pits and reserve the water.
  2. To your blender, add the bananas, pitted dates, coconut sugar, vanilla extract, spices and one to two tablespoons of the reserved date water. Blitz until really well combined and smooth.
  3. Transfer the sticky mixture to a large bowl and add in the oil, if using, and mix well. Oil is optional helps to create a moist loaf that lasts well. 
  4. Slowly add in your flour and or oats in half-cup increments. Don’t rush this stage, as you want to maintain that beautifully smooth mixture that you’ve prepared. Nobody likes a big chunk of uncooked flour in their banana bread. Once completely mixed, transfer the batter to a lined loaf tin.
  5. Line your loaf tin using two strips of parchment or baking paper. Lay one strip horizontally, allowing for enough paper to hang over the edges and repeat across the width of the tin. This will give you handy tabs to lift the vegan banana bread out with. Once you try this technique, you’ll never go back to trying to persuade baked goods out of a tin with the help of a butter knife.
  6. Now it’s time to decorate. We like to slice some ripe bananas lengthways and place on top of the mixture, but go with whatever feral right to you. How about banana coins with shapes punched out of the centre for a pretty alternative?
  7. Preheat the oven to 170°C (gas mark 3) and pop your tin on the middle shelf for 40 to 60 minutes, checking regularly. Use a skewer or sharp knife to check that the centre is cooked through (both will come out clean when ready). Once the top is browned and the middle is baked, take the tin out of the oven, remove the bread and leave to stand for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving. We know you’ll want to eat it as soon as you can, but a few minutes to cool and settle will allow your vegan banana bread to firm up a little and slice properly.

The really great thing about this recipe is how easy and low effort it is. Normally, you’d have to mash the bananas by hand and worry about combining all your wet ingredients properly, but by using a blender, you can tip, blitz and go. We’ve also replaced the more traditional brown sugar with coconut sweetener instead, for a dose of nutrients and a healthier profile, but if you’d rather not buy a new ingredient, by all means substitute with regular sugar.

Finding the perfect vegan banana bread recipe feels like searching for the Holy Grail. You try a few and none are ever quite perfect, but this one ticks every box. No refined sugar, gluten-free adaptable, it can be cooked without oil and it keeps well too. The ideal combination of sweet, spicy, dense and yet light too, we think this recipe is a little bit magical and it taps into the nostalgia that banana bread is known for.

Anyone that remembers the smell of homemade loaves wafting through the house will be instantly transported back to childhood as soon as the tin hits the oven shelf here. What’s more, it’s so important that we all try to master a few vegan baking techniques that allow us to generate less food waste. If you’ve always been hesitant to do anything with speckled brown bananas and prefer to throw them out, this recipe is your first step towards a more conscious and less wasteful kitchen.

For tasty variations, try altering the amount of spices you use or stirring through a swirl of peanut butter, chocolate spread or Biscoff spread? Different toppings can elevate your loaves to a whole new level as well. This bread pairs beautifully with almond butter and works well in the toaster too. We’re not saying you have to spread a little vegan dulce de leche on a slice of fresh-from-the-oven banana bread. But you do.

Check out more recipes like this vegan banana bread.

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