Friday, March 29, 2019

Charcoal Banana Bread

I saw this recipe for charcoal banana bread, from Black Girl Baking by Jerrelle Guy (the book was just nominated for a James Beard award), and I just had to make it! So I bought some activated charcoal and got to it.

To be honest, I’m not sure that the charcoal here does anything other than give the bread a cool color (I couldn’t resist taking a picture of it next to the Fox’s wooden rainbow because it was just so grey!), but I enjoyed the experience. You certainly can’t taste it in such a small quantity, so I wonder if I should just use it again in other banana bread recipes, or perhaps in a chocolate cake that I want to make a bit darker. This also means that you could omit the charcoal and still end up with a truly delicious vegan banana bread!

I changed the order of the ingredients to make it easier.

2 cups white whole wheat flour (or spelt flour, but I didn’t try it)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. activated food-grade charcoal powder, for color (optional)
1 cup sugar
½ cup melted coconut oil
1 cup nut or grain milk (or lactose-free milk if you don’t need it to be vegan)
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup cocoa nibs, plus more for sprinkling (optional)

Set the oven at 400 °F. Position a rack in the upper middle of the oven. Spray a 9-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line it horizontally with a 4-inch-wide strip of parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang on each side (I left the overhang on the long side instead because it’s easier).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and charcoal powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, milk, bananas, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and the cocoa nibs into the wet ingredients and fold until just combined, being careful not to overmix.

Scoop the mixture into the loaf pan and gently smooth the top. Sprinkle with more cacao nibs and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let bread cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for another 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

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