I’ve always wondered why banana bread is called banana bread and not banana cake.
Is it because it’s baked in a bread pan, and not in a round pan? Is the name designed to make us feel better about eating it—bread’s a necessity and cake’s an indulgence?
To be honest, this recipe, although a more nutritious version than your ordinary banana bread, still should be filed in the dessert section due to the sugar and fat content. (To me, bread is flour, yeast, salt and water, with maybe trace amounts of added fat and sugar.)
Having said that, I do love banana bread. Like most banana-loving families, I find over-ripe bananas in my fruit bowl quite often. Bananas are a tricky fruit: They’re at their best when just ripe, and if you happen to look away for a few hours and neglect to consume them in time, you’re in banana bread territory with over-ripe bananas—still delicious, but not lunchbox material.
I write and speak often about the poor eating habits most of us have, especially related to fruit and vegetable consumption. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that fewer than ten percent of U.S. high-school students eat the combined minimum five-a-day daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, with some states such as Arkansas and North Carolina faring significantly below those averages and some New England states, particularly Vermont, doing notably better.
Combining bananas and mint into a bread or cake isn’t the answer to our kids’ low intake of fruits and veggies—not at all. But it is another fine use for these plant-based foods we should have in plenty at home and in our kids’ lunchboxes, available for snacking and ready to eat. And, just to be clear, I recommend eating most fruit raw.
However, this bread/cake is a delightful exception-—moist, scented, full of fruit and really delicious! Try it.
For the mint sauce:
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the banana bread:
3 or 4 very ripe mashed bananas
1½ cups of whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup dark raisins
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
• Make the mint sauce: puree all ingredients to a thick paste using a food processor (or blender) fitted with the steel blade.
• Preheat the oven to 350°F.
• In a large bowl, combine all of the banana bread ingredients. You don’t need a mixer, but feel free to use one.
• Pour the banana bread mixture into the buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan.
• Swirl the mint sauce into the banana bread (Transfer the mint sauce into a small plastic bag with a corner snipped off. Drizzle it on in parallel lines and then run a knife through the lines from the other direction to swirl.)
• Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean and the bread is golden brown.
• Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.
Tip: The mint pesto will keep in a tight container for a week or so, and will pair up nicely with any chocolate dessert. Double the quantity and you’ll look like a pro when you serve chocolate ice cream or cake with a few dollops of this home-made mint sauce on the side.