Actually, these came from having just about nothing in the fridge, and they weren't originally vegan. I first made this banana bread at school a couple semesters ago, when my bananas were languishing in the closest and I couldn't take the bus to the supermarket. My roommate's tiny fridge held nearly nothing, save a half-finished bottle of juice and seltzer. Our school doesn't have cafeterias, but actual stores on campus where you purchase food (the "meal plan" basically works like a debit card). The only thing I could find to bake with was a half-pint of milk.
Desperate for anything to use up my dead and dying bananas, I searched the Internet (I miss my cookbooks at school...) and happened upon the blog Cookie Madness and her recipe for Easy Vegan Banana Bread. Although I did have lemon juice and used it instead of the vinegar for making buttermilk at the time, I have realized that true to the author's words, banana bread can take just about anything you can throw into it. I have made variations with raspberry preserves, fresh strawberries and now, fresh pear. This time I left out the cinnamon since my mum isn't too big a fan, but I think it still turned out edible. The bread was moist, with little bits of banana and pear throughout.
Banana Pear Bread Inspired by Cookie Madness
Makes 1 9" x 5" loaf, but any similarly sized pan may be used
2 cups flour (all-purpose, whole wheat or mix, depending on taste)
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar (brown, white or both)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup soymilk (or juice, or even just plain water)
2 bananas (Originally called for 3 bananas and no other fruit)
½ cup chopped ripe pear (About 2 small pears)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 large mixing bowl
1 rubber spatula
1 cup dry measure
½ cup dry measure
¼ teaspoon measure
½ teaspoon measure
1 teaspoon measure (optional)
2-cup liquid measure
Loaf pan/9" round/any pan around this size
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil the loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Leave extra paper on the 2 long sides to facilitate removal of the bread.
2. Combine the oil, sugar, vanilla and soymilk in the large mixing bowl. Mash in the bananas and pears. Add the cinnamon and stir well if using.
3. Pour in the flour, baking soda and salt, then stir well. Try to hit the balance between streaks of flour and overmixing. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all the flour.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Enjoy!
The parchment paper really is incredibly helpful. If you're serving it in the pan (or too lazy to get a plate because it's all you have to eat this weekend), the paper helps prevent scratches in the bottom of the pan. For a round pan, just line the bottom. If you're taking it out of the loaf pan to put on a wire rack, you can take the bread out hot and not a) burn your fingers, b) tip over the wire rack or c) accidentally mash the bread as you flip it over. And, if you're making more than one item and the flavor of the first item is less intense, you can actually reuse the parchment paper. This worked well for me because I baked the pinwheel cookies first, then simply cut a strip from the slightly buttery parchment to line the loaf pan. Er, I guess it's not technically vegan this time, but I did grease the pan with oil rather than butter. Besides, butter is expensive!
Normally I actually make this bread with just bananas. If other fruit looks like it won't escape mold another day, though, it gets tossed into this bread.
Banana bread is seriously robust. I have used applesauce, cow's milk, strawberry juice (from macerating strawberries before I mixed them into the bread) for the liquid. All work great. Applesauce yields a slightly moister, chewier bread, and whole wheat flour makes the loaf denser. Adding more fruit than just the banana bread also makes the bread moister. Some people suggest tossing fruit with a little flour before mixing it into the batter to keep it from sinking to the bottom.
Next time I might try to add ginger or cinnamon for another layer of flavor.