Pandemic Sourdough Loaves and Banana Bread Recipes
If you didn’t have a sourdough starter before the pandemic, the chances are you have one now. Baking sourdough bread was one of the big hits of the first lockdown. It’s delicious and solved the fresh bread and yeast shortages problem (assuming you could get bread flour, of course).
And if you didn’t have a banana bread recipe before the pandemic, the chances are you have one – probably more – of those now too. Baking gave us something to do. It also gave us a tastier, more nutritious, and healthier version of anything we could (or couldn’t) buy in the shops.
Not to mention the sense of achievement from producing something homemade, tangible and satisfying. With sourdough you need to nurture your starter, and banana bread is one of the easiest things you can bake. It was the perfect lockdown recipe for novice bakers.
Using up your sourdough starter discard
A sourdough starter needs to be refreshed regularly. If you’re not making a loaf a day and don’t want an ever-increasing quantity of starter, you’ll need to discard some. Which feels wasteful and unnecessary. Luckily, there are ways to use up your excess starter and this healthier banana bread recipe is ideal.
It doesn’t matter what type of flour your starter is made with. Whether it’s rye, spelt or wheat, wholemeal or not, it all works.
If you suffer from digestive issues, you may find sourdough is better for you and your stomach than normal bread. The fermentation process can break the gluten down so it will contain lower levels. While this banana bread will only be gluten-free if you’re using a gluten-free starter, you could use gluten-free flour for the additional flour to keep it low gluten.
It’s best to take your starter before you refresh it, if you have enough. If not, you can use it a day or two after you last fed it: you don’t want to make this banana loaf with an overly active starter.
A simple and healthy banana bread
This is an all-in-one, quick, and easy banana bread. I have made it healthier by reducing the sugar, using a refined sugar alternative, better fats, and cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips. The egg is optional, so if you want a vegan version just leave it out: it’s just as good.
125g butter or dairy-free margarine (softened), or 110g vegetable oil
125g coconut sugar
250g ripe bananas, mashed up
200g sourdough starter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg (optional if you want to make it vegan)
50g cacao nibs (or chocolate chips)
200g SR flour or gluten-free alternative
Set the oven to 175°C (fan) and grease a 2lb loaf tin.
Put the butter, margarine or oil into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the coconut sugar, mashed bananas, sourdough starter, vanilla extract and egg if using.
Beat for a minute or two to ensure all the ingredients are properly combined. It won’t look pretty.
Add the cranberries and the cacao nibs and mix in.
Sieve in the flour and fold in gently, making sure that the flour is properly incorporated.
Put the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for around 45 -55 minutes until it is well risen and browned. A skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf should come out clean.
Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin, before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.