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What “Nut Free” Really Means

July 27, 2011

Truth: giving some one a nut-free baked good means one of two things in my house: either we really care about you (and don’t want you to have an allergic reaction) or we don’t think you deserve something so pricey. Yeek. I’m not going to tell you which reason was behind the cute little loaves of banana bread I made the other day.

But I will tell you how I made them because despite the lack of nuts, the flavor was spot-on and I’ll be using this Mark Bittman recipe from now on. The addition of unsweetened coconut flakes made all the difference. Drew gave me the iPhone app for How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and even though I still love the feel of a real book in my hands, I love how handy the app is when I’m in the grocery store or when I’m cooking and don’t want to print out a recipe. I highly recommend it if you’re at all interested!

Banana Bread
(makes 1 large loaf or 4 mini loaves)

-1 stick of unsalted butter
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
-1 tsp. salt
-1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
-3/4 c. sugar (this time, I used normal white granulated sugar but I think sugar in the raw/sucanat would also work)
-2 eggs (you can also use egg whites if you prefer)
-3 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork until smooth (I usually freeze bananas when they’re getting too ripe and I don’t want to use them right away – I’m sure you probably know this trick, but it’s lovely to be able to pull them out of your freezer straight away and not have to wait days to be able to bake bread)
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/2 cup shredded dried coconut*
-Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts or your nut of choice

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease your pan (s).

2) Mix dry ingredients together. With a hand mixer or whisk or food processor, cream butter and beat in eggs/egg whites and bananas. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just enough to combine (don’t overmix). Gently stir in the vanilla, coconut, and nuts (if you decide to add them).

3) Pour batter into pan(s) and bake for 45-60 minutes (fewer if you use mini pans), until nicely browned. Check with a toothpick to see if it’s done and don’t overcook. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from pan(s).

*It can be hard to find unsweetened coconut shreds at your usual grocery store, but once again, Earthfare/Whole Foods/your local natural foods store has your back.

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