Saturday, March 3, 2007

Let’s do some lowfat baking!

I found a recipe for a Black and White Banana Bread recently and it sounded yummy. I coaxed my yellow-green bananas to ripen (really, I don’t know if it worked but they became yellow and spotted in only a couple of days in that cool kitchen of mine).

Upon reading through the recipe, the first thing that hit me was 10 tablespoons of butter per loaf. Now, any regular readers of my posts will know that, although I do not have a butter-phobia, I use only small amounts when it is necessary for flavor. I just want to cut out the saturated fat as much as possible-- you know, dreading the imminent “landmark birthday”, black balloons, icing vulture perched on my cake, geriatric gag gifts, etc. Okay, so perhaps I am a little butter phobic...

I took a pencil and subbed some ingredients, added others, then came up with a pretty darn good banana bread recipe. The chocolate portion is lightly flavored with dark rum and the chocolate swirl compliments the “plain” banana swirl quite nicely. It is not at all sweet, like many banana breads I have tried. We ate almost a half loaf before I could get enough willpower to wrap and "hide" in the freezer.

I hesitate to post lowfat baked goods based only on our opinion of the final product. We have been eating this way for many years and are accustomed to it and I’m never certain that those who do not eat lowfat foods, or eat them only occasionally, will find this type of baked good appealing. So, for this type of recipe, I needed a neutral third party. Which came about when it was time to find out just what it means to have the "check engine" light lit on our Toyota's dashboard.

Yesterday Jack had to take our car in for service so I sent a plate of Chocolate-Swirled Banana Bread with him for the service manager (who has always gone out of her way to assist us with our car maintenance and problems). When she called to tell him that the car was finished and ready for pick up, she mentioned that the banana bread was “fantastic”, and when Jack told her that it was lowfat, she couldn’t believe it. Okay, so maybe this tweaked recipe is tastes good to everyone!

PUREED PEARS. My secret ingredient. Baby food can be used, but purchasing those little jars can get to be pricey, so I whirl a 14.5 ounce can of pears (packed in juice, drained) in my mini food processor until smooth. Each can makes from ²/³ to ¾ cup of puree. This has a silky, almost slick, texture, very appropriate for using as an oil substitute. It’s tricky to sub oil and oil substitutes for butter, and probably shouldn’t be done in recipes where the butter is essential to the texture and rising of the product, but for quickbreads I really don’t notice much difference in taste or appearance. But, what is noticeable is the absence of many grams of saturated fat. I can easily sub ½ of the oil in a recipe with pureed pears, and I use the same rule-of-thumb for butter as well.

And, as in my yeast breads, I use Eagle Mills Ultragrain Blend flour because of its taste and fiber content.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chocolate-Swirled Banana Bread

Recipe By : Vicci

Servings : 14

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

1 cup Eagle Mills All-Purpose Unbleached Flour

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg -- fresh is preferred

1 1/2 whole bananas -- overripe, mashed

1 1/4 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon dark rum, optional

3 ounces dark chocolate -- chopped

1 tablespoon butter -- softened

1/3 cup pureed pears

3 tablespoons canola oil

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 large egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325˚F

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together mashed bananas, lemon zest, lemon juice, and rum. Set aside.

In a medium-sized, heatproof bowl, add butter and chocolate. Heat in microwave at 50% power, stirring every 20 seconds or so, until almost melted. Stir until chocolate melts and butter is combined.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the pureed pears, canola oil, and both sugars together until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs and egg white, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

Add half of the flour mixture and, using a wooden spoon, mix just until the flour is almost absorbed into the liquid. Add remaining flour and mix until the flour just begins to become incorporated into the batter. Add the banana mixture and lightly stir until combined.

Add just a little less than half of the batter to the chocolate mixture and stir until blended.

Coat an 8-1/2"x 4-1/2" loaf pan with cooking spray. Drop alternating spoonfuls of each batter into the pan. Swirl the two batters together with a knife.

Set the loaf pan on a heavy baking sheet and place in oven. Bake until very golden and a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out mostly clean, about 70-80 minutes. Check often toward the end of the baking time to see if the top of the loaf is overbrowning. If so, tent loosely with aluminum foil.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Loosen edges of loaf from the sides of the pan with a knife, turn out the bread, place upright on the rack and continue to cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.

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Per serving: 246 Calories (kcal); 7g Total Fat (1 saturated); (24% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 42g Carbohydrate; 29mg Cholesterol; 194mg Sodium; 3g Fiber

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 1 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

By the way, my self-anticipated photographic series “A Step Out The Door” has hit a snag. Early March in Pennsylvania has absolutely nothing photogenic going for it!