Sometimes it’s fond memories that can save a girl. For this month’s challenge over on Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Linda (Gluten-Free Homemaker) chose cake. And, she’s been wowing us with the cakes that she’s come up with—the last one even after going dairy free! First there was Orange Pineapple Cake (not dairy free, but easily made so, if needed) and this week she shared a Lemon Bundt Cake. When Linda first issued the cake challenge, I found all sorts of ideas rolling around in my head, and, well, every single one of them is still there … not fully formulated yet. But, last week for a girlfriends’ tea that I hosted I found myself pulling out a recipe that’s become a family favorite—Molasses Banana Bread.
My good friend, Ann, found the recipe on the back of a molasses jar. She emailed it to me. I immediately converted it to gluten free and well, the rest as they say, is history. Traditional, “blonde” banana bread has not been baked in my loaf pans since.
So where does the “cake” factor come in? Well, this banana bread made with molasses is dark and rich, and tastes a lot like a famous chocolate cinnamon cake that is served at one of our local restaurants. Without fail when I make this and give Mr. GFE a chunk, he always says, “Hmmm, chocolate cake.” (LOL Okay, maybe he’s a slow study when it comes to this bread.) And, when I made it as part of a dinner (which also included special turkey breast and pan-baked potatoes) for a co-worker friend whose wife was ill, he came back the next day raving over all, but corrected me on the molasses banana bread. “That’s not bread,” he said. “That’s cake!” So thanks to that memory of Perry for saving me on Linda’s cake challenge!
Molasses Banana Bread
(Click here for a printable version of this recipe.)
4 tbsp butter, softened (or coconut oil, liquefied)
3/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup sugar (granulated sugar, Demerera sugar; I bet coconut sugar would be great, too)
1 1/4 cup “all-purpose” gluten-free flour mix*
1 heaping tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup chopped nuts (optional, I used walnuts this time)
Other optional ingredients are mini chocolate chips, orange zest, and nutmeg.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease loaf pan (I used two mini loaf pans) and then coat with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. (I always have cinnamon-sugar made up for my cinnamon-sugar-crusted almond popovers.)
Cream butter, molasses, and sugar.
Whisk in flour, salt, baking soda and xanthan gum until well mixed and evenly brown.
Beat in eggs.
Stir in bananas and any optional ingredients.
Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. (Even the mini loaves take 50 minutes.) Cool in pan for 10 – 15 minutes before removing to cool completely. Now see if you can hold off from eating a piece!
*I can’t always tolerate many of the healthier, gluten-free flours; e.g., sorghum, buckwheat. Therefore, my gluten-free flour mix is 3 parts Asian white rice flour (which is very finely ground) and 2 parts cornstarch. I gently mix three one-lb bags of the Asian white rice flour and two one-lb boxes of cornstarch in a very large bowl and then store the mix in several airtight containers. It’s a very economical mix that works well in most recipes. No refrigeration is needed. However, I’m sure another mix of other gluten-free flours that one would use in similar recipes could work as well.
Adapted from a recipe on the back of the molasses jar thanks to my friend, Ann
One of my new Twitter friends is Kim Maes of Cook It Allergy Free. When I mentioned I had Molasses Banana Bread baking in the oven, a few folks got excited! Kim stated that she had all the ingredients and asked when I would post the recipe. Knowing how posts can get OBE (overcome by events), I emailed Kim the recipe rather than make her wait. She emailed me later that when she went to make the recipe, she discovered that her children had consumed all the bananas she had on hand. But, what mom can complain about her kids eating bananas? So she picked up some more bananas the next day and made the recipe. She sent me her review:
“That bread was DELICIOUS!!! Oh my goodness! I cannot believe the flavor that the molasses lends to it. I have not combined molasses and bananas before, but they work so great together!!”
She also told me about the changes she made:
“Only thing different that I did was that I used 1 cup of Pamela’s flour blend and 1/4 cup of almond flour (I always try to add a little almond flour into all of my baking – Pamela’s has some in it too). Since almond flour is pretty heavy, I separated out 1 of the whites and after beating in the other whole egg and yolk, I separately beat the one separated white and folded it in so that I would get a little more rise out of the bread. Worked great!!!”
Here’s Kim’s photo. She took it at night (not daring to wait until morning when her hungry kids were up!), so she said it was not her best. I still think it’s great. The bread looks absolutely delicious and her healthier version looks very similar to mine.
So, bread or cake? It’s molasses and bananas that come together with a crusty cinnamon-sugar coating to taste like delicious cake, even if it is shaped like a loaf. After all, even my perfect pound cake, I bake in loaf pans. Make this recipe and then tell me what you think it should be called.
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