Got an apron and a mixing bowl handy? I hope so, because today is none other than Homemade Bread Day.
Homemade Bread Day holds a special place in my heart because I grew up on homemade bread. Wonder Bread and the ilk never darkened the door of my mother’s pantry. In fact, she had a small room off the kitchen dedicated to the art of breadmaking, with storage space for a couple of hundred pounds of wheat, solid wood doors that helped dull the roar of her Magic Mill III, and a 2-inch thick butcher block countertop that’s seen about as many baked goods over the years as your average small-town bakery.
After moving out, I had to forego the freshly-ground flour for a few years — in part because hard white winter wheat berries are nigh impossible to find in rural South Korea — but continued to bake my own honey wheat bread with organic stone-ground whole wheat flour, olive oil, sea salt, honey, Saf-Instant yeast, and occasionally-added cinnamon, raisins, and dried apple dices. Though not quite as good as the original, it was passable.
Nonetheless, when the the U.S. Army returned my husband and me to American soil, one of the first things I sought out was a source of wheat. Soon after, Mom supplied me with a wheat mill so that I could return to baking “real” bread. Unfortunately, her timing coincided with the birth of our first child … which greatly curtailed both my kitchen and web development time. This evening, however, hubby will be greeted by the smell of fresh-baked cranberry banana spice bread when he walks in door.
Giving credit where it’s due, the following is adapted from the low-fat banana bread recipe in Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, one of my favorite vegan cookbooks.
Cranberry-Banana Spice Bread
2 large or 3 small ripe bananas, well-mashed
4 oz. apple sauce
1/4 c. oil
1/4 c. molasses
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (I prefer freshly-grated)
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. unbleached flour OR 1 1/4 c. unbleached flour and 1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. quick oats or oat bran
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. dried cranberries steeped in 1/4 c. orange juice* until soft (with liquid)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour mixture into a lightly-grease 9 x 5 (1 1/2 pound) loaf pan, and bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out dry.
By the way, this recipe is best mixed by hand. For best results, do not use an electric mixer.
*I prefer to throw a whole washed clementine orange (including peel) into the blender, pureeing it, heating it, then steeping the cranberries in it. This gives you yummy bits of orange peel in the bread as well.