Saturday, August 3, 2013

{Lightened-up} Banana Bread with Orange Glaze

I posted my tried and true recipe for Banana Bread two years ago, a slightly adapted version from Southern Living magazine that has the most incredibly dense and moist texture due to the mixture of butter and cream cheese. Like many Southern Living recipes, it's absolutely delicious and always a hit. I regularly made loaves to give friends and family while we lived in the UK, and it was always requested if we  visited friends out of town. But it's pretty intense, and almost impossible to stop eating after just one slice. The hubs' aunt called it banana *cake*... it definitely fit that profile better than bread.
homemade banana bread, lightened up, with an orange glaze
A couple of bananas sitting in our fruit basket have been neglected for the past week and were almost completely black-- perfectly ripe for banana bread. So today I made a lighter version, using olive oil instead of butter, and substituting plain greek yogurt for the cream cheese (this makes it easier anyway for us, since sourcing cream cheese without preservatives is more difficult in Sydney). I mixed in some wholewheat with the all-purpose flour, and scaled down the sugar quite a bit. I kept the sweet orange glaze on top, as this really makes the loaf stand out from your traditional banana bread, but you could easily omit it and the bread would still taste divine.
banana bread warm from the oven
I'm very happy with this banana bread-- it still has a moist, tender crumb and a rich taste-- you don't even miss the butter, cream cheese, and extra sugar. I'll make this version from now on, save for Christmas morning or other occasions which deserve a splurge. The recipe below makes one loaf-- just double the ingredients for two, and bake in two loaf pans. Cover the bread tightly with foil and freeze for up to three months, or store in an airtight container for up to three days. If it starts to get a bit dry a few days after you've baked it, take a note from my mother and broil a slice under the broiler (aka grill) for a minute or two, caramelizing the sugars from the banana and... sugar, and making it a toasty sweet treat. Spread your toasted banana bread with coconut oil, yogurt, butter, or cream cheese to serve.

Enjoy, and happy August, all.

{Lightened-up} Banana Bread with Orange Glaze
makes one 8x4-inch loaf

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup low-fat greek yogurt (or plain yogurt)
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose and 1/2 cup wholewheat)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
small pinch freshly ground sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
heaping 1/2 cup mashed, very ripe banana (about 2 medium bananas)

Orange Glaze:
2 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 177C/ 350F. Grease and flour an 8x4-inch loaf pan, set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the olive oil and yogurt with a whisk or an electric mixer until well combined. Add the sugar, and mix well. Add the egg, and mix well until thoroughly combined. Stir in the vanilla.

In a separate medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk well with a fork to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the yogurt mixture and stir well to combine. Add the mashed banana, and stir well to combine.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan, smoothing the top of the batter. Bake at 177C/ 350F for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out without any dough on it. You may need to cover the loaf with foil in the last 15 minutes or so of baking to prevent excessive browning.  Remove from oven and set aside, flipping the bread out of the loaf pan when it is cool enough to touch (you may need to run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the bread).

To prepare the orange glaze, mix the powdered sugar and orange juice in a small bowl until smooth. After the bread has cooled for at least 15 minutes, drizzle the glaze over the bread with a spoon, slightly spreading it around with the back of the spoon so that it evenly covers the top of the loaf.

Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. To freeze, wrap tightly with foil and freeze for up to three months.

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