Gluten-free cooking is relatively straightforward – there are thousands of excellent recipes that are naturally gluten-free, and good substitutes for things like pasta and bread and couscous. See my other recipes or the blogs listed under favorite blogs for examples.
Gluten-free baking can be a different story. Gluten acts like a glue (it’s known as a “sticky protein”), making fluffy cakes and thin pastries and delicate crusts possible. Without that sticky protein, it’s a bigger challenge to get those pastries, cakes, cookies, and crusts just right, and it’s a real adventure in terms of finding the right textures and flavors to make your baked goods turn out right.
Sweet breads are relatively forgiving, but I’ve still had a hard time finding a good recipe. Until now. I had bananas that needed using up, so I went in search of two things: 1) a really good banana bread recipe that I could adapt and 2) a gluten-free flour mix that I could create without having to make a trip to the grocery store. I found both, tried it out, and fell head over heals in love. The recipe follows and was a big hit with non-gluten-free friends – even a full *week* after I’d made the bread! That’s unheard of in the gluten-free baking world – typically, it either sours if it’s not refrigerated or dries up if it is after just 2-3 days. So, in many ways, this was a huge success. Hope you enjoy!
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 cups mashed bananas (fresh and/or frozen)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups gluten-free flour mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional – I just put these in one loaf, so I only used 1/2 cup)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans (or line them with parchment paper; a habit I formed sharing loaf pans with non-gluten-free roommates!).
In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the banana and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Beat into creamed mixture. Stir in oats and nuts. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. You may need to cover with foil 40-45 minutes into baking to prevent the top of the loaf from burning/overcooking, so keep an eye on it!
I left both loaves out for about 24 hours, then put them in Ziploc bags and kept them in the fridge. When I wanted bread, I toasted it in my gluten-free toaster at home, or warmed a slice in the microwave for 25-30 seconds. It’s good on its own, or with a little bit of butter. 🙂