After a wild winter storm that dumped nearly 20" of snow upon the streets of Minneapolis in one day, I needed to feel cozy. I wanted to bake. And immediately, I thought of banana bread. Truthfully, I can't take credit for the idea - I was influenced by one of my most favorite blogs, My New Roots. Sarah wrote a lovely post that discusses the Danish interest in hygge, the concept of being cozy, and her amazingly cozy recipe for Banana Bread. I have always loved the notion of hygge (perhaps my Danish ancestry makes me predisposed?), and was giddy to see her writing about it, especially in relationship to a lovely bread recipe.So, I found my way into the kitchen - where I spent most of last weekend - and made a batch of this lovely bread. Sarah's culinary style is right up my alley, so I didn't need to do much to tweak the bread. I made the recipe gluten-free, using freshly ground flours, and made a few other small changes, but kept the spirit true to the original.
The result was lovely. It is sweet, but not too sweet. It is dense but still has a well-defined crumb. It is moist, but not gummy. It is flavorful and soft and chewy and makes me feel cozy inside. I really like this bread. And the bread stored well at room-temperature for almost 4 days (I don't believe it lasted that long). We all agreed it was best toasted or warmed up, but it was also good eaten plain. I think it would make great french toast. My housemate Mike (a guy who can eat everything) said, "This is good. Can I have another slice?" while chewing the last bite of a warm slice. He promptly returned from the kitchen with more, and ate it up. Over the next few days, we devoured the loaf, eating it slightly toasted, smeared with ghee. So good! My grain-free eating plan went totally out the window when the temperatures started diving toward the 0º F mark.
I like to grind my flours fresh for the best flavor and freshness. For this recipe, the bulk of the flour is freshly ground hulled buckwheat groats and freshly ground millet. If you've never baked with freshly ground buckwheat flour made from buckwheat groats, you're missing out. It has all the same great texture as regular dark buckwheat flour, but with a lighter, more neutral flavor and a light tan color. Regular buckwheat flour is made from buckwheat groats that still have the dark hull, which lend a dark color. When you grind hulled groats, you get light buckwheat flour. Pretty cool, right? Freshly ground millet flour is no different than what you'd buy in stores, except that it tastes better and is fresher.
I use a Vitamix to grind my flours. You can also use another high-powered blender like a Blendtech, a grain mill, a coffee or spice grinder, or perhaps a really good high-quality regular blender. Just grind until you have a fine powder, like flour. Done!
I think you'll really like this bread. It made me feel cozy inside and out, and filled the house with a warm, lovely smell that made us all smile. Winter is totally bearable with food like this around, isn't it?
Oh, and one more thing...
I'm starting a monthly newsletter! I think it will be fun. Sign up here, and I'll start sending out newsletters in January 2011. It's free and should be lots of fun. I plan to include all sorts of unique information, tips, featured foods, and a recipe each month. So sign up!
adapted from My New Roots | yield 1 loaf pan
This recipe calls for freshly ground flour. If you don't have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or a Blendtech, you can use a coffee grinder, spice grinder, grain mill, or even a high-quality regular blender - you just want to get a very fine flour. If you don't want to grind them yourself, feel free to use pre-ground millet and light/white buckwheat flour.
If you are vegan, be sure to choose a vegan oil instead of butter/ghee.
Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a loaf pan with baking paper.
Grind buckwheat groats and millet in a high-powered blender, coffee grinder, grain mill, or a very high quality regular blender. Transfer to a large bowl and combine with other dry ingredients, and set aside.
Put the milk, oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and bananas in the blender and blend until smooth. Add banana mixture and combine using as few stroked as possible. Fold in nuts/seeds and chocolate/cacao.
Spread into a cake pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with additional nuts/chocolate. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Do not overbake.
Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pan by lifting on the sides of the baking paper. Finish cooling on a rack, and store cooled loaf in an airtight container. This bread is delicious toasted, and freezes very well.