Tuesday, 9 August 2011

One to Rival the Best!

I will tell you a secret about me.  I hate being wrong!  Jon would surely go so far as to say that I hate it so much, I won't even apologize if I am.  I would beg to differ, because, well, I just don't think I am ever wrong!  This banana bread is *almost* as good as The Best Banana Bread in the World.  Almost!

With school starting in just a few weeks time (GASP!) I have been trying really hard to come up with some items that I can pack in Owen's lunch.  His solid foods are so limited that this is difficult even when we spend the day at home, let alone packing an easy to handle and esthetically pleasing brown bag meal to take somewhere.  He will eat a few types of fruit if I cut them up really small, and applesauce is a perennial favourite, so I am good there.  The only sandwich he will try is peanut butter- so that poses a difficultly because of the peanut allergies that have become so prevalent in our little ones.  Soy nut butter is out of the question.  Since we feel that he does better with no milk in his diet, yogurt is out for the moment.  And even though his tests for celiac disease came back as negative, we would like to reduce the amount of gluten intake.  What does this leave me with?  Yesterday it felt like a whole lot of nothing, but this morning I was ready to face the challenge.

Enter:  Spelt.  An ancient grain, that has been used for over 9000 years.  It is a cousin to our modern wheat, and appears to maintain a higher nutritional content than wheat.  Some argue that this is because modern wheat is inbred.  I am not a chemical engineer so I am not going to weigh in on that comment!  Perhaps the most interesting part about spelt- it behaves somewhat like a whole meal flour when used in baking, but has a lower level of gluten.  Well, that is good enough for me to give it a go- I have tried gluten free baking in the past, and it's not my favourite.  'Nuff said!

My experiment for today was a high quality, lower in gluten, higher in protein and fat banana bread.  This one will definitely become a staple for Owen's lunch box!  Note that I because of texture issues I grind the seeds and nuts in a food mill whenever I use them in baking.  I never liked big chunks of nuts in stuff when I was a kid either!  You would never guess that this bread has nuts in it- hoping you can see that in the picture below.

Spelt Banana Bread

  • 1/2 cup butter, Crisco or olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar (you could easily use less)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 large overripe bananas, mashed 
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup ground sunflower seeds**
  • 1/4 cup ground pecans**
  • 3-4 tbsp ground flax seed**
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • generous handful of chocolate chips
In a large bowl, add butter/shortening/oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and bananas.  Beat with mixer until smooth.  In a separate bowl mix flour, ground nuts/seeds, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Combine with wet ingredients and gently mix.  Toss in the chocolate chips.  Pour into a generous sized (and lightly greased) loaf  pan.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about an hour, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack for cooling.

**You can omit the seeds and nuts in this recipe but adding an additional 1/2 cup of spelt flour

If you are really interested in the history and nutritional information regarding spelt, you can read more about it here:  

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