You won’t see me post many recipes for baked goods – in general, I find baking too unforgiving for my tendency to make substitutions. But a while back I tried a recipe for a Pumpkin-Honey Beer Quick Bread that I really liked. It was really moist, and lower in fat than a lot of quick-bread or muffin recipes. But it was still really high in calories (194 calories per slice, when the loaf is cut into 14 slices – I never get that many out of one loaf) and sugar (2 1/4 cups in a single loaf).
I started thinking about modifying the original recipe when I gave some to my trainer, and he commented that it reminded him of banana bread. Why not substitute bananas for some of the sugar, and in the process reduce the amount of oil used? I was amazed to see that 1 cup of mashed bananas contains about 200 calories, compared to 774 calories in a cup of granulated sugar. This amounts to saving over 50 calories a slice (using a more reasonable 10-slices per loaf) compared to the original recipe. My back-of-the envelope calculation is that reducing the oil from 2/3 cups to 1/2 cup saves another 320 calories total.
As long as I was experimenting, I decided to make some changes to the flour. The original recipe calls for 3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour. I decided to substitute oat bran (which is better tasting that wheat bran, in my opinion) and whole-wheat pastry flour for about 2/3 of the all-purpose flour. (I hoped that the whole-wheat pastry flour would result in a lighter loaf than using regular whole-wheat flour. I found it in the bulk bins at Whole Foods.)
I was happily surprised by the final result – the bread is a lot less sweet than the original version, but I liked that. It does have a mild bran taste, but is a lot more moist and light than any bran muffin I’ve ever tried. If bran is something you just don’t like, you can always use all-purpose flour instead of the oat bran. It doesn’t have a terribly strong pumpkin or banana taste, but the taste of the spices come through nicely.
To start, combine in a medium bowl:
- 1 cup all purpose flour (preferably unbleached)
- 1 cup oat bran
- 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Gently stir the dry ingredients to combine (a whisk works well).
In a small bowl combine:
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup ground flaxseed (it’s sometimes labeled as ground flaxseed meal).
Stir, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (I used 3 small bananas)
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2/3 cup beer, at room temperature (the original recipe calls for honey beer, which I did not have – I had a bottle of “Fat Weasel Ale” on hand and used that)
- 1/2 cup egg substitute
- 2 large eggs
Mix these wet ingredients on medium-high until they are well-blended. Add:
- flaxseed mixture
- 1 15-oz. can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
Beat on low until just blended. Add:
- flour mixture
Continue to beat until just combined. Divide the batter between two (greased) loaf pans (mine are 9 x 5 inches). Bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Given the moistness of the bread, a toothpick may not come out perfectly clean. Cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pans. Cool completely on wire racks.