KLR’s best gluten free, sugar free, dairy free banana and walnut bread

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I have finally found the perfect combination ….I will look no further, the science experiments are complete in the kitchen and I have created a winner. Banana bread is a favourite to have in the cupboard or fridge for anyone popping round on a sunday morning, to give to a sick friend or just to pack as a healthy treat for kids or husband’s lunches.

Cooking without the use of sugar in most recipes is very difficult because you need to substitute at least a cup full of dry ingredient to replace it. Stevia or Natvia is great but you only need to use a few spoons as it is over 100 times sweeter to taste than sugar. Coconut sugar is very dry so this often enhances the favour but crumbles or gets stuck in your throat – not a very pleasant experience when you are trying to be polite and say how much you love someone’s baking in between coughing fits! As much as Paleo cooking encourages the use of sugar alternatives like agave nectar, maple and rice brown syrup, you need to be aware that they are less processed ( and this in questionable given that even organic agave has to go through a massive procedure to be extracted from the plant) but will give you a similar amount of calories as table sugar and eventually store as unused energy. I have to confess, this bread is not without sin completely as it uses bananas and an apple so you still get fructose (just before you suddenly decide you can eat as much of this loaf as you like…I encourage you to treat it like bread and perhaps have it in the morning or as a treat if you are watching your carb intake)

I have had many failures through my experimental baking by using too much drying coconut, the wrong flour (rice can be gritty), not enough moisture and not letting the bread cook for long enough or cool before slicing!! (a big no-no, no matter how great it smells, wait until it completely cools)

So here is the famous (or soon to be) KLR Banana bread recipe:

4 ripe bananas (not bright yellow – the older the better)

4 whole free range eggs

1 large or 2 small apples (peeled and grated) – I prefer this to applesauce that most recipes use to reduce the added sugar

2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract

1/3 cup of olive oil

1/3 cup of coconut oil

1 and 1/2 cups gluten free flour ( I use freeform gluten free flour from countdown)

1/2 cup organic coconut flour or desiccated coconut

2 tablespoons of stevia/natvia/norbu monk fruit (DO NOT USE ASPARTAME BASED SWEETENERS)

2 heaped teaspoons of baking soda

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup raisins (optional – this increases the sugar)

1 x tablespoon cinnamon (optional)

How to make the KLR banana bread:

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C. Prepare a medium load tin or silicon loaf tin with rice bran spray oil or wipe the inside with some olive oil to crisp up the outside and avoid any sticking (silicon will not stick so this may be optional)

Prepare your coconut oil first so it has time to cool down. I am lazy and use the microwave to melt my coconut oil. Set aside 1/3 of a cup each of olive and coconut oil.

Mash bananas into a large mixing bowl or get one of the kids or your husband to do this while you prep the rest!  Grate the apple and mix into the mashed banana. Beat the eggs lightly in with the apple and banana. Add the vanilla.

Fold in the flour, coconut, optional cinnamon, stevia/natvia and baking soda until it is thoroughly mixed in. I have found the new range in countdown called ‘free from’ gluten free flour etc the best as it combines a few different starches i.e. tapioca, maize and rice – you can experiment with other gluten free flours but I have found this improves texture and does not go gluggy or dry

Add the oil, walnuts and raisins (Tip: pierce a pin-head sized hole in the walnut bag and bash whole walnuts into pieces with a bottle or rolling pin or anything else hard)

Mix everything together until it combines to a thick batter. This should be moist but if it is too dry and more like a dough add more oil and if it is too wet add more flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin.

Bake for 55-60 mins.

Poke a whole in the middle of the loaf with a skewer to check if the centre is cooked thoroughly – there may be a tiny bit of batter on the skewer but this may just be apple or banana which is ok) I pour the batter almost to the top of the loaf tin, this bread rises but will not spill over and looks great when the peak sits high over the baking tin.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the loaf tin or tip out onto a wire rack to cool faster.

Once cooled, slice into thick slices and store in an airtight container or freeze for later.

* If you are in a hurry, you can most likely still have a successful loaf by pouring everything into one bowl and mixing thoroughly but this way ensures you have evenly distributed everything through the loaf and you haven’t cooked the eggs with the oil

* I have also tried this loaf using cranberries instead of raisins and almond flour instead of coconut. This would be tasty with pecans instead of walnuts too!

Happy baking and let me know how your loaf turns out!