Black and Blue Banana Bread


Just the other day, it crossed my mind out of the blue that I never seem to post about kitchen disasters, which are of course inevitable. Given one of our Kindergarten mantras, "we always make mistakes; that's how we learn", this fact seemed out of sync with the open tone I like to think I'm going for here, and also unfairly holding back, even from myself. Like editing history, sort of. I made a mental note to myself that I would embrace vulnerability the next time I fell on my figurative face in the kitchen. The timing of  this thought turned out to be rather ironic, or at least was beginning to look so, as the next day I dove into a "bake in haste" kind of mode, and before long felt somewhat like an objective observer nodding coldly to unfolding tragedy. I seemed to be making one mistake after another...but  (sorry for being such a spoiler, but you should know this post need not be a waste of your time) it all worked out, thanks to the gentle nature of quick breads. I have to confess, I've got my toe poking off the edge of my self-made safety zone with this bread. First of all, as you may know, I've been reducing my purchase and consumption of bananas, based on the unsustainable factors associated therewith. Secondly, I'm using berries out of season. In my defense, I'd like to say up front, they were two organic bananas that had begun to turn spotty, and the berries were on sale, frozen; and, this recipe has lots of options for easy tweaking, and is wholesome to boot. All week, I'd had this mouth-watering idea of banana bread,  I think because my teaching teammate Kelly made delicious sounding banana chocolate chip bread the weekend prior. I'd been craving blueberries, and had been seeing blackberries on sale week after week, too, and became fixated on the idea of making banana bread I could call "Black and Blue". Maybe that was some kind of foreshadowing for the beating my batter was about to take. (Incidentally, I read this theory recently and can't remember what it was called...but effectively says that the future can "leak" into your present and thereby influence your decisions leading to said future...kind of intriguing, in a surreal sort of way!)

First mistake, confession number two: I didn't follow the recipe like it's written below, and took more shortcuts than usual.  I whisked the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and then mixed the frozen berries in that mixture rather than mixing them in a little flour separately, so they wouldn't bleed into the batter. Next, I made a well in the dry/berry mix, and poured all the wet ingredients in separately, mixing them in that well. The resulting color was reminiscent of a gloppy papier mache paste, and not at all appealing. Mistake number two, confession number three:  I had potatoes baking in the oven at 400 degrees F; my plan was to reduce the temperature when the breads (which I actually made as a mini loaf and muffins) went in, but I got distracted and forgot. One case of two wrongs making a right: the ingredients in this recipe could handle the higher heat, and the top became a nice golden brown, erasing that bruised look I'd anticipated. Most importantly, of course, this hearty low-sugar bread tastes great, by my and Dave's Fish & Chips-followed-by-Cadbury standards, which generally require more seasoning and sweetening than my palate does.  Hope you enjoy it! : )

Black and Blue Banana Bread

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons flax meal
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted * (or olive oil)
1/3 cup plain yogurt (or applesauce)
1/2 cup honey or brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup skim milk (or almond)
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries and blackberries (Confession number 4: a few raspberries "snuck in" mine, to no detriment, as well!)
1. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients, flour through salt. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, yogurt, honey/sugar. Add in egg and vanilla. Mix in bananas.
2. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the egg mixture, blending to combine. Fold in berries.
3. Pour into prepared loaf or muffin tins, and bake at 400 degrees F until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean: approximately 15 minutes for muffins, 25-30 minutes for 5-3/4-in X 3 -in x 2 in loaf pans.
*Working with the coconut oil, bring your other liquid/wet ingredients to room temperature before mixing, to prevent oil from solidifying.