Healthier Banana Bread

My food science course this semester has really provided me with the knowledge I’ve always wanted when cooking. I understand what flour does and how important baking soda or eggs are in a recipe. As one of our assignments, we had to take a favorite recipe and either reduce the fat, sugar, or sodium by 30% or increase the fiber by 30%. I decided to use my mother’s favorite banana bread recipe (it’s easy to travel on the trolley with a loaf of bread).

Time for a science lesson! My goal for this bread was to increase the fiber. To do this, I planned on taking the 1 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour and throwing in some whole wheat flour somewhere. Whole wheat flour has a lot of protein and so do bread flours. The protein supports the development of gluten and provides structure to the bread. Flours like cake or pastry flour have very little protein. The protein absorbs moisture and the more gluten that is developed, the less tender the crumb of the bread. So the higher protein flours are better for breads that need structure and don’t need to be as moist and soft as cakes or pastries. To make up for the moisture loss from adding whole wheat flour, I decided to increase the amount of bananas in the recipe, from 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups.

Here is the original recipe (from an old Betty Crocker cookbook):

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)

1/3 cup water

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

 

 

This is the modified, high-fiber version:

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened

2 eggs

2 cups mashed ripe bananas (4 to 5 medium)

1/3 cup water

1 cup whole wheat flour

2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom only of 9×5 inch loaf pan. Mix sugar and margarine (or butter) in a large bowl. Stir in eggs until blended.

I just placed my bananas on a plate and used a fork to mash them. Add bananas and water; beat 30 seconds.

Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts just until moistened; stir in nuts. Pour into pan.

Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 9-inch loaf 55 to 60 minutes; cool 5 minutes. Loosen sides of loaf from pan; remove from pan. Cool completely before slicing.

I was able to increase the fiber by over 50%! I take the bread in to class on Monday along with the two versions of the recipe. And of course I made a separate loaf to try and make sure it tasted good. I would say the modifications came out well. It was still very moist and kept the banana flavor. Very good bread and now much healthier.

Enjoy.

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