All serious daring comes from within. There are some things in life which you helplessly heed a calling. In the last quarter of 2014, I took the plunge and paid a sum to take the online culinary course Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine under Matthew Kenney Culinary. This was a pretty big deal as it was a first time that I actually paid for education. Primary school to college education was covered by parents and subsidised by the government; and funded by scholarship in university. It is only in retrospect that I begin to realise how easy and overprotected my life has been, and appreciate how hard-earned income comes by, and then how to use it for future investments.
One of my favourite recipes from the Matthew Kenney course is the humble banana bread. While the ingredient mix is orthodox – bananas, a blend of oat and nut flour, spices, sweetener and flax, it is the method that is mind-boggling. Here, the loaf is shaped, frozen, sliced and then “baked” or dehydrated. Now, this is what I term baking backwards! You know how agonising it is to wait for hot banana bread to cool before slicing? Since this is sliced beforehand, it eliminates the waiting time and warm banana bread can be enjoyed immediately, slathered with nut butter, of course. Bingo.
Activated oat and nut flour is recommended for both nutrition and taste reasons. However if short on time, you may also simply use flours ground from rolled oats and nuts respectively. I like the addition of oat flour as it gives a moist texture and a semblance of regular bread without being too heavy on the nuts. At the point of doing the course I did not yet have a dehydrator, but the oven method still produced beautiful bread. The texture is slightly dense with a good chew, or simply said, this hits the banana bread jackpot!
Oh, I almost forgot to mention the aromatherapy you will enjoy while making raw banana bread. Since the baking or dehydrating period is prolonged to 8 hours or more, wafts of cinnamon and spice will find their way through and permeate the nooks and crannies of your home, to create a lingering scent of heaven in the air.
- 115 g (1 1/4 cups) oat or sprouted buckwheat flour
- 72 g (3/4 cup) nut flour (almond, cashew, hazelnut or a blend works well)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 200 g (2 medium) ripe bananas
- 80 g (1/3 cup) prune or date paste (see Notes)
- 32 g (1/4 cup) activated pecans or walnuts, chopped
- 24 g (1/4 cup) ground flax
- 24-36 g (4-6 tbsp) raw cacao powder (optional)
- Combine the dry ingredients (flours, spices and salt) in a medium bowl. If using cacao powder, add it in as well.
- Blend the wet ingredients (bananas and sweetener) in a food processor until smooth.
- Create a well in the dry ingredients and combine with the wet mix. Add in the flax meal, followed by the chopped pecans last.
- Shape into a sandwich loaf, building the loaf up to two-inch height. Place the loaf in the freezer. Once frozen, cut into ½-inch thick slices and transfer to a dehydrator sheets and dehydrate for 8-12 hours hours depending on your preference for a moist or dry texture.
- Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Best consumed within one week.
- To make prune or date paste, blend prunes or dates with as little filtered water as possible to form a paste.
- Prune contains three components that mimic fat - pectin, sorbitol and malic acid. Pectin traps air, sorbitol and malic acid deliver flavours. Malic acid is a known flavour enhancer. It tends to stay in the mouth longer, so the more you chew, the more flavour you get. Food technologists are looking into prune paste as a fat replacer in baked goods.