Perfectly textured banana bread, made without grains, eggs, dairy, yeast or added oil, and sweetened by bananas and a small amount of maple syrup. No kidding!
For anyone trying to cut back on grains, or eliminate them entirely, the idea of a quick-to-make, toothsome bread sounds too good to be true.
However, a quick google search in fact reveals multiple options made with nuts, vegetables and seeds in place of flour, or coconut flour breads made with half a dozen eggs. Yes, they are grain-free. But I have a quibble with the “bread” description, which is (far too) often loosely applied to a squidgy, squishy, or gooey lump of ingredients baked in the form of a loaf or muffin.
Until now. Introducing my not-so-humbly named perfect grain-free banana bread. It just so happens to be vegan, too. Most importantly, it lives up to its bread moniker.
Many bananas were sacrificed in pursuit of perfecting this recipe. Many. Our garbage is, sadly, full of close to 20 test loaves (“loaves” may be too kind; banana blobs is far more accurate). But all of that testing has led to a recipe that I know you will want to try, and, better yet, will love to eat!
Here are the primary ingredients for the recipe:
I made several loaves with a small amount of coconut flour mixed in with the chickpea flour, but, regardless of the egg replacer (chia, flaxseed meal, psyllium husk) combinations and proportions I tried, the end results had gooey centers, or gooey everything (they rose, they fell). So I stuck with chickpea flour alone. I already knew that chickpea flour can produce a remarkably grain flour-like crumb in breads when made with eggs, but without eggs? I suspected it was possible, but had my doubts.
Psyllium husk was an utter failure. Psyllium is wonderful when it works, but I could not get at to work here, at all. Chia worked pretty well on it’s own. The finished loaf looked and smelled great (no post-bake sinking), but sadly, had a gummy texture. Flaxseed was promising, too: the finished loaf looked sad (a droopy center after 5 minutes of cooling), but the texture was better (more grain bread-like) than chia alone.
So, I made chickpea flour + chia + flax my working combination. And after 5 or 6 more tries, I produce the perfect loaf. Lovely rise, golden brown, moist and tender crumb texture (hallelujah!), great banana flavor, no deflating, and it is undeniably bread.
The high oil content in the flaxseed meal and chia seeds keeps the bread perfectly moist (and rich in omega-6 fatty acids) without any added oil, and bananas do the majority of the sweetening. I used maple syrup (1/3 cup total), which gives the bread a gently sweetness without going anywhere near “cake” territory. You could add a little bit more sweetener (e.g., coconut sugar) if you like, but less than 1/3 cup (I tried it) were definitely not as good.
For the record, I tried the same proportion using bananas alone with stevia (no maple syrup), adding a few tablespoons milk to make up the volume. In a word, EWWW. RIP, sad loaf. I have tweaked and tweaked this recipe, so I would not recommend any substitutions for any of the ingredients unless you are prepared to make a dozen test loaves. This recipe works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! 🙂
If you are new to chickpea flour, this bread will convince you to use it in all kinds of recipes! It is far more than a grain-free flour, it is a nutrient rich food all around. High in protein, it is also a high-fiber carbohydrate, which means that the starch in chickpea flour will not spike blood sugar levels. This kind of resistant starch is beneficial to overall digestive health. Win, win, win!
Do give this bread a try, and let me know what you think! I’ve definitely got the baking bug (hello, fall) so expect more unexpected breads, bars, and more, all designed for healthy living, in the weeks and months to come!
- 1 cup nondairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1-1/2 cups chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour)
- ¼ cup flaxseed meal
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 large, very ripe bananas, peeled
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a measuring cup or small bowl, stir together the milk and chia seeds. Let stand for 20 minutes until thickened.
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 9x5-inch baking pan with parchment paper; lightly grease or spray remaining sides.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, mash the bananas until no lumps remain. Stir in the maple syrup, vanilla and chia-milk mixture until blended.
- Add chickpea flour mixture to banana mixture, stirring until completely blended and no lumps remain. Spoon and spread batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes to 1 hour-5 minutes until a long skewer inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer to a wire rack and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Use parchment overhang to remove loaf from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.