Thursday, June 5, 2008

Gluten Free Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

When I first started to experiment with gluten free flours and alternative sweeteners six months ago, I had several memorable kitchen disasters involving rice flour. One in particular - an attempt to make banana bread - stands out in my memory as being a tragic waste of perfectly good ripe bananas. The main problem was with the flour. The baked dough had turned into a gritty, chewy, heavy thing. My husband patiently consumed one bite and announced, "Yeah, I still really prefer regular white (wheat) flour". He then went to get a bowl of ice cream. Our two year old son, ever the diplomat, said: "It yucky mommy!"

Recently though, I have discovered the wonders of xanthan gum. As explained by Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods, xanthan gum is made from the outer layer of a tiny inactive bacterium called Xanthomonas campestris. It has the uncanny, gluten-like ability to hold small particles of food together. Thanks to this, nearly all gluten free baked goods that you will find in alternative stores such as Whole Foods, Wild Oats, or even Trader Joes involve a bit of this powdery white substance.

With a special thanks to xanthan gum, I am proud to present my new original recipe which was a HUGE hit with all of the men in my family today. At last, I have mastered banana bread! (This is much to the chagrin of my waistline, as I ate no less than six pieces by myself.)

Delicious Gluten-Free Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

1 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 cups Whole Foods 365 brand Gluten Free Pancake & Waffle mix
(which contains xanthan gum)
3 extremely ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 tsp gluten free vanilla
2 squares 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate baking bar (I use Ghirardelli)

How it works:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In food processor (or with hand beaters) mix butter with both types of sugar until smoothly blended. Add bananas, eggs and vanilla and continue mixing until fully blended.

In separate bowl, combine gluten free pancake & waffle mix with teaspoon of baking powder. Then slowly begin to add this flour blend to the liquid banana mixture. Stir by hand until mixture develops a thick, stretchy texture and flour is fully integrated.

Melt 2 squares of chocolate. Pour banana bread mixture into a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan. Gently stir chocolate into the banana bread mix in a circular direction, creating a swirl pattern.

Place loaf pan on center rack of oven, uncovered. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. In my oven, it took exactly 50 minutes.

Let cool down for at least 10 minutes before serving.



Substitute 2 cups of gluten free baking mix or rice flour for the 365 brand pancake mix. Then add 2 teaspoons of gluten free baking powder (instead of one) and 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum.

The rest of the directions remain the same. Baking time will now be longer - approximately 1 hour total. In my oven, this version of the bread took 1 hour and 10 minutes in the oven until the toothpick came out clean.

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