Banana bread and banana cake


Perhaps the commonest quick bread is a banana bread. Google threw up 1,60,000 choices and in a few minutes I was bloghopping like mad till I decided to go back to a favourite - David Lebovitz! That my versions no longer bear any resemblance to his is a different matter, but I love the recipes he gives.

They are simple and straightforward - he makes you feel even macarons are no big deal:). Coming to that I made them twice, once last year and once in January, rather half-heartedly as I stopped eggs and dairy products quite some time back. I use milk, cheese, curds etc. everyday as my family is used to it and P makes omelettes for the kids every now and then. The other day Jr.H requested macarons and I gave in. The second time too it was a flop but now I am determined to try it again and not give it that extra swirl that will make it flat!! The kids finished them though:). My aim is to get one like Helen of Tartlette - I know its not rocket science but then, I have never heard of Feynman raising a good macaron though he did excel himself in particle physics, banjo playing, picking locks and helping to create that demon called atom bomb, so I guess it must be something more difficult that that:)!!

Oh, no! This post isn't about macarons! This is simply about a banana bread. It was my first ever vegan cake (in 2007) that ended up rock hard. After that I made one with yeast - I did not know then that banana breads were not supposed to be made with yeast, but that one turned out really good! Now that I have gained some experience in baking vegan cakes, I felt I should try the quick bread thing once more.

I made the first one on impulse with only 4 blackened 'elaichi' kelas (small bananas), and had to supplement it with Banarich's(Cochin Ayurvedic Centre makes this) banana powder. Banana powder is made with dried and powdered 'nendrampazham' and is usually used to feed toddlers or patients and the aged. I used to feed it every evening to my kids when they were small, and continued purchasing it as my daughter loves the porridge, and she prepares it for herself and her brother when they return from school. Sometimes she leaves a bowl for me and I just love it even now. I felt it was a very good substitution for eggs too, and gave the banana bread a very soft bread texture and I think yielded a much less dense bread than the usual banana quick breads I have seen. I also substituted sugar with organic jaggery which turned the bread yellow, more wholewheat than APF - as healthy as it can get:)!


The second time round I used 9 elaichi kelas, mostly APF, nutralite butter instead of oil, and white sugar and I felt the bread was more a dense cake than a bread. I used powdered star anise instead of cinnamon and I don't think I will ever do that again!! I realised I am not used to the strong flavor of this spice yet:) - definitely not in powdered form! I did not like it very much, but when I took it to office, it got over in a jiffy with people asking for more - so I guess it was good after all!! My colleague said it was 'fundoo item'!

My vote goes for the low fat jaggery version which was pretty guiltless and more tasty and more defined!! You could make out it was a bread and not a cake!

Bananas are very nutritious fruits and contain a large amount of ascorbic acid.

Banana bread-I (Low fat version - the one we liked very much)

4 tbsp. - Banana powder (I used Banarich)
1 cup soymilk/ricemilk/nutmilk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup organic jaggery (powdered)
1/4 cup sugar
8- 10 green cardamom (I like its strong flavor, reduce as per your taste or use cinnamon)
4 tbsp. Oil (I used sunflower)

Dry ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used Ashirwaad)
1/2 cup Cornflour
1/2 cup APF
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

4 small bananas (left to over ripen - I used elaichi kela)

Peel and powder the cardamom. Melt the jaggery by adding to the water and heating it till dissolved. Cool and set aside. Dissolve the banana powder in milk and heat, whisking all the time to form a smooth custard. Set aside to cool.

Mash the over ripe bananas with a fork. Pulse the cardamom powder, jaggery mixture, custard and mashed bananas together till homogenous. If it is too thick add 1/4 cup water and mix again. The consistency should be that of custard that can be stirred without too much effort, but not runny - like appam batter. Tastes like it too - I licked up whatever was left in the mixie!

Sift the dry ingredients. Fold the custard into the flour mixture till just mixed. Do not stir much, one or two turns will do.

Banana bread

Pour into well greased and dusted tin and bake at 180 deg.C. for 30 minutes and 200 deg. Cel for another 20 to 30 minutes. My oven takes a longer time - please adjust as per yours. Mine is brown in color because of the jaggery.


Banana Bread - II
(The one my friends liked)
Dry ingredients:
2 cups APF
2 tbsp. Corn flour
1/2 cup Wheat Flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. star anise powder (Use cinnamon - Please!!) I didn't like this flavor much!
(Sift the above together and set aside)

Wet ingredients:
7 elaichi kelas/ almost 2 cups (allowed to go black)
2 tbsp firm tofu
1/2 cup coconut milk first extract (I used canned)
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
1/2 cup sugar (more if you please - this was enough for me)
3 tbsp nutralite butter cut softened
1 cup warm water
(Pulse everything together to form a custard that coats the back of the spoon thickly)



Mix the dry and custard together till just moistened (do not stir much - 2 gentle turns at the most). Pour into prepared tin and bake at 180/200 for 50 minutes or till it answers the skewer test perfectly. Rotate pan in between baking to get even crust.

The sweetness was enough for us but add more sugar if you have a sweet tooth.

Event submission:
These are my entires to Zora's BBD, hosted this time by Mansi of Fun n Food Blog.

Glossary to this post:

Elaichi kela/Velchi kela
: I am not sure about the variety but I think it is the Poovan or Nai Poovan variety. (Source - Ikisan)

Nendrampazham: A large variety of banana found in Kerala.

Fundoo: A Hinglish slang meaning marvellous, remarkable, wonderful.

Hinglish: English modified/mixed with Hindi words or vice-versa, which has become very popular even outside India. You get to see its use in movies like 'Bend it like Beckham', 'East or West' etc., and television serials like 'The Kumars at No.42'. Eg. - shampoo is a derivative of 'champoo/champee' meaning head massage. Other egs. - Filmi, desi, junglee, timepass etc. (Source - MED Magazine)

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