Sometimes, simple is best. Other times, though, quite the opposite is true.
While it is a fact that a slice of freshly baked banana bread warm from the oven certainly hits the spot, sometimes, I want something different. Just to keep things interesting. It’s not that my love for banana bread could ever fade, but it could, perhaps, get a big stale. (Did you catch that one? I’m patting myself on the back).
With two lonely bananas sitting on the counter, just on the brim of being unusable, I was inspired. There are two main options when it comes to brown bananas: freeze them for super sweet smoothies, or make banana bread. I chose the latter. At first, I thought, a classic banana bread would suffice. After I had made the batter, though, an idea struck me. Well actually, two ideas. The first included a swirl. A carob swirl, made with sweet, creamy sunflower seed butter. A swirl always makes a baked good better. So does a streusel. And not just your regular oat and nut streusel. No, I wanted to make a pretzel streusel. That whole sweet and salty thing was calling my name. So I did it. I mad Carob Swirl Banana Bread with Sweet and Salty Pretzel Streusel. That’s a lot of words, but I need them all to encompass just how wonderful this banana bread is.
This was one of those instances when my kitchen intuition proved itself quite useful. Everyone who tried this banana bread came back for seconds. I couldn’t stop eating the streusel. I made it twice in three days (the second time with a cocoa swirl, which is also wonderful).
If you’re looking for a recipe for Mother’s Day brunch, here it is. Look no further, because I assure you, Mom will be happy. You don’t need the bagels or the oatmeal. Forget the fancy pastries.This banana bread will satisfy every craving. This is, by the way, the recipe for those mystery muffins I showed you in the last post.
Preheat oven to 357°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch deep dish pie pan, or 8-inch square baking dish.
For the banana bread:
In a large bowl, mash the banana until it is the consistency of applesauce. Pour in the almond milk, oil, coconut sugar, flaxseed, and vanilla extract, and mix until homogenous.
Add the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Do not overmix the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and set aside.
For the carob swirl:
In a small bowl, mix the the nut butter, cocoa or carob powder, and sugar with a fork. Slowly add warm water until the mixture is the consistency pancake batter.
Spoon heaping tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the prepared banana bread batter, and swirl around with a knife to distribute. Set aside.
For the pretzel streusel:
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix together with fingers until you have a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the prepared batter, and lightly press in.
Bake at 375°F for about 40 minutes, until the edges are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the dish comes out clean.
Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving.
*Brown sugar may be used in place of the coconut sugar. I made this recipe with both carob powder and cocoa powder. I highly recommend the carob powder if you have it and like the flavor, but if you are looking to satisfy the tastes of a crowd, cocoa powder may be a safer choice.If you do not have coconut oil, you can use a vegan butter substitute, such as Earth Balance.
What are your feelings on banana bread, or simplicity in general? Do you stick to the classics, or do you prefer to add a twist to old recipes?