Gluten-Free Chocolate Banana Bread.

It almost felt too good to be true, when I woke up this morning two hours before anyone else even started to stir. Even the accidental clanging of loaf pans as I tried to quietly dislodge them from their slumbering place didn't bring any little feet running to see what the noise was. Better still was the cool breeze blowing in the windows, gorgeous dark grey storm clouds ominously layered across the sky, just waiting for the cue to empty themselves over my depressed and wilty tomato plants.

Yesterday, the new King Arthur Flour catalog came in the mail. I perused it before bed, as I always do when a new one comes. Rarely do I order, but there is some solid information in the King Arthur catalog, and they always include a few recipes that are worth the time and effort. One for Chocolate Chip Banana Bread caught my eye, and I started to scheme in my dreams of a gluten-free version. When I bounced from my bed, I got right to work - happy with my end result and feeling quite productive all before 7 a.m.

GF chocolate banana bread

The last GF quick bread I made was so delicious it was difficult to keep around more than 2 days. This one will also meet that same fate. My loaf pans are wider, leaving me with (in my opinion, not as attractive loaves) a shallower bread, but the texture and flavor is so wonderful it's hard for that visual afterthought to matter. It's a deep chocolate flavor, not too sweet because I slashed the sugar content and didn't add any chocolate chips, but fully ripe with banana and a touch of cinnamon. A future note will be to add a little espresso powder or perhaps even ground coffee. A java jolt may be a very good addition.

I always feel the need to stress that I am not gluten-free myself, or in need of keeping to a gluten-free diet. But more often than not, I wish I was. Everything baking experiment ends up enchanting me far more than the conventional glutened counterpart. Maybe it's the thrill of a new challenge, or the appreciation of a tender crumb. Maybe, it's because it is a truly healthful alternative to traditional baked goods. This bread just feels healthy, like you are doing yourself a favor by enjoying a slice.

GF chocolate banana bread

You may wish to up the sugar content. I am fully reformed in my sugar consumptions for the most part, and have taken to preferring things decidedly unsweet. I tested this out on the Kiddo, who loved it as it was. I also ate a slice augmented by soft butter and sprinkled with additional cinnamon sugar, which wasn't a bad way to go either. I have a feeling the texture of this bread gained some density as the day wore on. I'll know for certain tomorrow, but either way I don't think a bit of fudge-like intensity is a bad thing.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Banana Bread (adapted from King Arthur Flour's August 2012 catalog)
  • 2 c. gluten-free all purpose flour (I used this method and mixed my own)
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. xanthan gum
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 3 1/2 oz. coconut oil (I used room temp, just softened oil, not melted)
  • 1/4 c. sugar (up this to 1/2 c. if you prefer it sweeter)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 bananas (8 oz.)
  • 1/2 c. plain yogurt (4 oz.)
  • up to 1 c. or so of optionals (nuts, chocolate chips, seeds, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 330. (Yes, it's lower than 350 and not a typo. I read here that perhaps baking at a slightly lower temperature is good for helping maintain the integrity of the loaf. That link is also a great resource template for vegan GF quick bread baking!) Line a loaf pan with a crumpled sheet of parchment paper. (You can use reused parchment for this, and may be able to get a couple of bakings out of the sheet you crumble as well.)

In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa powder.

In a larger bowl, mash bananas and add the coconut oil, sugar, egg, and yogurt. Mix well to combine thoroughly.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and use a spatula to make sure everything is well mixed. Add in any optionals, and spread evenly into prepared loaf pan. (I sprinkled the parchment lined pan first with cinnamon sugar, and then sprinkled a little more on top of the unbaked batter as well. It adds a little extra sweetness and crunch.)

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

GF chocolate banana bread

Today was such a departure, weatherwise, from the whole of our Summer that I finally cleaned my oven. The little bit of residual warmth actually felt good in context of the cool breeze and overcast sky. Just like that, I felt the pang of Autumn, the way I do every year and somehow still feel surprised by it. Just a few weeks remain until the calendar turns and school begins for an eager 1st grader, and I gain an official year on my life. Just this evening, I was considering that my birthday is the perfect excuse to make whatever sweet I desire, and I wonder if this year it may just be gluten free? We'll all have to wait until September to find out.

GF chocolate banana bread

Just so you know, King Arthur is a deep love of mine. Their website and on-demand staff is just plain amazing, and they never would ask me to tell you so. I am able to find their flour locally, and it consistently performs so well and tastes so good that I make excuses that I don't source more local or organic flour. I haven't yet tried their gluten-free flour, but I'm sure it is also consistently good.