I think I’m a fairly decent baker. I don’t think I’m amazing, but I do think that I can find my way around a pie tin and pipette bags. There is one thing that I have been trying to bake for over five years now, and I still haven’t found the right way to do it: Banana Bread. Part of my problem is this: 1) I get bothered by the recipes that call for sticks of butter, or lard or large amount of any fat, 2) Because of this, I mix and match low-fat recipes. And while I know it’s verboten in the world of baking, I rarely follow any recipe I read to a T. Ninety percent of the time, it works out in my favor; the remaining ten perfect is my Waterloo.
My low-fat Banana Breads never work out as I hope. They generally brown very quickly, get a little burned on the outside and under-cooked on the inside and don’t taste as delicious as one would hope (given the large amount of brown sugar, vanilla and banana that are in them). However the whole “oh Apple Sauce is a great substitute for butter” thing, is a lie. It really isn't- At least not in breads.
Growing up, we were never really a bake your bread family. I don’t really remember ever having banana bread or zucchini bread or any other bread. I do remember a Dacquois avec Chocolate Ganache that The Mother would make for fancy dinners. Man, that was good…I may have to dust that recipe out one of these days..... I digress.....
Attempting to make low fat bread while still being able to keep it moist is challenging; I've finally come to terms with the fact that you do have to use some fat. But you don’t have to go crazy and you can make delicious bread that is cooked to perfection and is a normal golden color, instead of a dark, scary very unappealing brown.
I decided to try my hand at Breads again. But I refused to start with my nemesis, Banana. I figured as it’s the end of the summer, maybe a lovely Zucchini Bread would be nice. This recipe is based off a Food and Wine recipe I received recently. If you’re a fan of their magazine, subscribe to their email and you can get a recipe a day sent to you.
This recipe uses fat free Greek yogurt and vegetable oil as the fats. And after baking it last night, and having a slice for breakfast, I can say that they work perfectly together. And I think I’m going to use those in my Banana Bread recipe…maybe I’ll have finally tamed the beast.
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
2 Cups Flour
1/2 TSP Baking Powder
1/2 TSP Baking Soda
1/2 TSP Salt
3/4 cup and 2 TBS Sugar
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
1 Medium Zucchini, Coarsely grated (I used the larger holed side of my box grater)
Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter and flour a loaf pan, I try to avoid metal when possible. I find that it makes the bread taste different and cooks the outside faster. When I bake any breads, I try to use ceramic or glass.
In a small pan, under very low heat, toast the walnuts. Make sure to stir them around every minute, so they don’t burn. They should toast in around 5-7 minutes.
Normally I would just use my Kitchen Aid mixer for these next steps, but something inside said do it by hand. It was the right choice. The batter doesn't get worked too much and it still is light and fluffy. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the eggs, vegetable oil and fat-free yogurt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients along with the grated zucchini and toasted walnuts and stir until the batter is evenly moistened. The batter is going to be greenish, a little tacky to the touch and kind of goopey. This is okay! You want it to be a little goopey and tacky.
Pour the batter into your loaf pan. There is a lot of batter, so it’s going to fill most of your loaf pan (you should have about an inch of room left). Put your pan into the oven, and set for 60 minutes. The bread should rise and be a lovely light golden color. Stick a toothpick inside, if it comes back clean, then pull your bread out. If it doesn't, leave it in the oven for another 10 minutes.
Once it’s out, let it cool for at least 30 minutes before trying to remove it from the pan. You can cut it and serve. Toasting the bread is also really delicious.