Banana Yogurt Bread

I apologize for the lapse in posts!  The semester ended two weeks ago, and I have been attempting to settle into a routine that does not involve driving 400 miles per week or writing hundreds of pages-worth of papers.  Said transition is not as easy as one would think!  But, that being said, I’m back, and I have an entire summer of posting ahead of me. 

Due to some unforeseen expenses in recent weeks, hubby and I are trying out a new, more frugal lifestyle.  Project Number One in the new lifestyle was to avoid getting groceries until we had truly exhausted our food supplies.  Historically, we had a habit of shopping with regularity every week, often re-buying items we already had (like oatmeal–oh, so much oatmeal).  Thus far, we have gone for two full weeks on only $40 of purchased groceries.  Considering that we typically spend $80 per week on groceries, this is a significant decrease in our grocery expenditures.

Since we bought so few new groceries in the past two weeks, I have been having fun trying to make meals out of the things I find in the pantry, fridge, and freezer (with surprising success!).  Last weekend I discovered that I had (so meticulously) saved 4 large bananas in the back of the freezer.  They were nice and black, perfect for a batch of banana bread.  I found this recipe on the Whole Foods Market website.  Since it included yogurt, another ingredient I was trying use up before its best-by date passed, I decided to give it a try.

I changed a few things about this recipe.  First, I used equal amounts of whole wheat and all-purpose flour.  I will try to squeeze in whole wheat flour wherever possible, for a little extra fiber and nutrition.  Secondly, I did not have ground flaxseed on hand, so I substituted an equal amount of wheat germ.  Third, I used 2 Tablespoons of softened butter and 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil.  Baking with coconut oil is a new experiment I’m trying, since coconut oil has so many health benefits, and it is delicious too!  Third, I stirred about 1/4 cup of softened raisins and 2 Tablespoons of chopped almonds into the batter just before spooning it into the pans.  Thirdly, the pans–I actually made two 8×4″ loaves from this recipe.  I think you could make one if you wanted a taller loaf, but I typically prefer a shorter, less dense loaf when it comes to quick breads.

This banana bread turned out light and flavorful, with just the right amount of banana flavor.  Some banana breads are WAY to banana-y for my tastes, but this recipe was just right.  The raisins and almonds added nice flavor and texture as well.  You could sub out other dried fruits, nuts, or even chocolate chips, too.  The texture of the loaf was substantial without being dense, and the yogurt gave the bread a fine crumb.  We enjoyed these loaves of banana bread for about a week, often warmed up and topped with a little dab of light cream cheese.  Overall, I think this is a fantastic recipe, and I think it will be my go-to banana bread recipe from here on out.

Banana Yogurt Bread
Adapted from Whole Foods Market

Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup fat free plain yogurt
3 very ripe bananas, smashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins, optional
2 tablespoons chopped almonds, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 8-inch x 4-inch loaf pans and dust with flour, tapping out excess.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together both flours, baking soda, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt; set aside.

Using a mixer and large mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and coconut oil with sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in yogurt, bananas and vanilla. Fold in flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.  Fold in raisins and nuts (or other mix-ins), being careful not to over-mix.  Spoon batter into loaf pans.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly, then remove from baking pan.

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