Baker’s Math & Banana Bread

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I’m not sure how we got to July already. The last time things were normal around here was the 30th of May. On the 31st I ended up in A&E (also known as the ER) with acute abdominal pains that I still don’t have an explanation for. Luckily, I have not been in pain constantly since then. It’s only intermittent, and we seem to have developed ways to nip it in the bud before it escalates, but still, pain that may strike at any time has rather altered our lives in a way I never could have foreseen.

One possible diagnosis is gluten intolerance and so I’ve switched to a gluten-free diet. And, in between boughs of dispair over what to eat (other constraints being I’m vegetarian and have also given up dairy because it seemed to be making my stomach unhappy), I’ve made many tasty foods that I should have been making even before going gluten-free – waldorf salad, quinoa granola, millet crepes.

But the real joy of gluten-free eating has been baking by weight. You see, I’ve known for sometime that baking by weight is the proper way to do it (thank you Bravetart), and I had started to play with it a bit. First doing a random sampling of how much ‘my’ cup of flour weights, and then occasionally transferring some of my favourite recipes into weight. It was mainly for fun, but now that I’m baking gluten-free it’s been a lifesaver. I can confidently transfer many recipes to gluten-free just because I know the weight of a cup of flour (I know you can look this up, but there’s something so comforting about knowing that I’m using the same weight as my own cup of flour. I guess I’m just that kind of a nerd.) Well, that combined with having read many, many of the wonderful and informative posts about gluten-free flours and baking by Shauna of The Gluten Free Girl & the Chef.

The interchangeability of baking by weight is vital for substituting ingredients – something I am doing constantly at the moment – because as long as you substitute equal weights of a similar ingredient the recipe will work out. So wheat flour goes out and millet flour comes in, or cow’s milk goes out and rice milk in. Of course there are other subtleties, but I’ve been amazed how easily recipes transfer – millet flour, rice flour, and tapioca flour with rice milk, eggs, vegetable oil, baking powder, sugar and salt become very tasty waffles with a lovely crisp outside. Hooray for baking by weight!

So here is my first recipe by weight, which is also my first gluten-free recipe, and my first dairy-free recipe. It’s a very tasty banana bread. Not too sweet with a lovely crumb. Very moist on the first day and not quite as moist the second day. It can also be done as muffins but I advise eating them all warm because they get dry much faster than the loaf.

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Banana Bread
adapted from Brunch at Saks

Gluten-free and dairy-free

3 oz. Dove’s Farm Rice Flour (a blend of brown and white rice flours)
2 oz. Sorghum Flour
1&1/2 oz. Ground Almonds
1&3/4 oz. Tapioca Flour
2 tsp baking powder (gluten-free)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 oz. muscavado sugar (brown sugar)
2 eggs
3&3/4 oz. sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla
9&1/4 oz. bananas (approx. 3)*

Rule

Measure the flours and almonds into a large bowl. Then add the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder. Whisk until combined.

Then in a smaller bowl, measure the bananas and mash them with a fork. Measure the sugar and oil into the same bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla, and whisk until blended.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. Pour into a greased loaf pan.

Bake at 180C/350F for approx. 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake springs back when you touch it.

*Knowing the weight of the bananas lets you substitute other things, like pumpkin, which works nicely. But add more sugar and/or raisins because pumpkin is not as sweet as banana, and maybe a bit more cinnamon. I reckon apple sauce would also work but haven’t tried it.

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