After leaving my old life behind I’ve gravitated towards simplicity. I feel to hold to space open for the right things to come along, so I am keen not to fill my space unnecessarily. However, I was starting to feel like something was missing for me. I feel happier than I’ve felt in the longest time, so I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I was ‘lacking’.
And then a couple of weeks ago it hit me, after becoming very ‘remote’, I was missing sharing delicious food, especially loaves, cakes, and baked stuff. It’s in my nature, it brings me alive to share, to uplift others with the delight of deliciousness. There is a real joy for me in passing a plate around and having people light up with joy as they experience magical textures and tastes from ‘made with love’ baked things.
So, I rather fortuitously landed myself a little cabin high up above sea level on La Palma in the Canary Islands. It can be tough territory (this is, in fact, the steepest island in the world), but for me it is heaven. For a while, I’ve got a sort of tiny, tiny house, with running water, a gas camping stove and a basic electricity supply. As a foodie, I’ve been gradually acquiring ingredients, herbs, spices, seeds, nuts, coconut, and powders. I managed nicely with this for a few weeks with a simple camping stove, but I just HAVE TO create some baked stuff. So a week or so ago I bought myself un “pequeño horno eléctrico” (as they call it in Spanish – a mini electric oven!). Ye-e-e-e-e-s, I am in my glory.
This is a banana island (well nearly everywhere below 400m sea level seems to be covered with banana trees anyhow lol!).
I am an opportunist, into whatever is available. Banana’s are abundant here and inexpensive so it goes without saying that I am going to be developing some new recipes to embrace these local treasures.
Yesterday, it was a banana bread sort of day! Oh my goodness, what a good call.
I invented a new banana loaf with the ingredients I have been stocking up on, baked it let it cool down, sliced it up and within half an hour it had completely vanished off the plate.
I walked over to my neighbours to surprise them (the joy of sharing!) and before long 7 of us kids and grown-ups had eaten the lot. Everyone loved it (couldn’t believe it was gluten-free and vegan).
I used my usual rice and tapioca flour for this but also decided to grind down some hulled sunflower seeds and use those as a key part of the flour medley too. I enjoy the nuttiness of seeds when baked (and they tend to be less expensive and lighter in texture than nut flour).
This loaf is (of course) naturally sweetened by the ripe banana.
I have added rice syrup to bring it up a notch, to that perfect ‘sweet-but-not-too-sweet’ level. You could use any syrup too. (The maple syrup is way too pricey here, so I’ll be saving that for special occasions for the time being haha!).
It’s a pretty simple recipe as long as you have the ingredients. We start off by blending the wet ingredients together. I find that this method works really well for vegan baked goods (i.e. blend the wet first, then add to the dried later). I’ve included a small amount of ground chia seed in the ‘wet’ which helps give it an extra sort of gloopiness (important for binding the whole lot together during the final mixing).
So after blend the ‘wet’, we then mix that thoroughly in with dry ingredients.
The bicarbonate of soda (baking soda in the USA) is responsible for the nice airy-rise that we get in this loaf. You need something to activate it – something acidic. I normally use vinegar (out of habit an convenience, I suppose), although I’ve not bought any vinegar here so far since being on the island. I am preferring to use lemons for everything right now (embracing local produce and all). So in this recipe, I added a tablespoon of lemon juice to activate the bicarbonate of soda. You can, of course, use apple cider vinegar or the likes, but just use one teaspoon if you do, as vinegar seems to be stronger.
As soon as you mix all ingredients together, the alchemy starts happening and the mixture starts to thicken. You’ll need to pop it into a loaf tin (a 1kg or 2lb loaf tin size is ideal) lined with parchment paper and then pop it into a preheated oven. Here’s a photo of what it looks like right before it goes in the oven…
Once baked, I like to wait for it to cool down before I slice. What we get from this loaf are delightfully balanced flavours and a fantastic texture. It holds together exceedingly well, whilst being moist. Perfect really.
It’s sweet, but not too sweet. A hint of ground cinnamon seemed to finish it off nicely.
- * "Wet ingredients"
- 3 ripe bananas (medium size)
- 75ml coconut oil
- 75ml rice syrup
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon ground chia seed
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- * "Dry ingredients"
- 50g sunflower seeds (ground)
- 125g rice flour
- 50g tapioca flour
- 1 heaped tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (USA: baking soda)
- Mix all of the wet ingredients together with a hand blender or jug blender and then put them to the side for a few minutes.
- Turn on the oven to gas mark 5 (190C or 375F) to pre-heat it.
- Line a loaf tin with parchment paper (a 1kg or 2lb loaf tin is idea for this recipe).
- Grind the sunflower seeds using a nut mill or food processor. It doesn't need to be a super fine sunflower seed 'flour' although it does need to be ground down fairly well (ish).
- Mix all of the dried ingredients together.
- Add the wet & dried together, quickly and thoroughly. When combined press down into the parchment lined loaf tin.
- Pop into your preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes (give-or-take with this timing, depending on your oven). It should feel firm to press and be tanned on top.
- When ready, take out of the oven. Take the loaf out of the tin (carefully pull out using the parchment paper) and place on to a cooling tray (a cooling tray is ideal if you have one, so that the air can breath underneath the loaf as if cools). The rack from a grill or broiler works well for this too.
- When cooled slice up and serve.
- It should keep for two or three days, although it will probably get a little drier as the days go by. Putting it in the fridge will firm it up (I prefer to serve at room temperature for optimal consistency).
- Enjoy! And don't forget to let me know how you get on.
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