I’m completely in love with banana bread…maybe not as much as my kids, one of whom was crying with happiness when it came out of the oven….but I like it a whole lot. I haven’t made it since my celiac diagnoses in September for a couple of reasons, the first being that everybody kept eating all the bananas I bought (so none were left to ripen into the mushy, black-mottled mess that makes the perfect bread). And the second reason was that I was scared it wouldn’t taste as good…that it would be dense, chewy and gritty, as gluten-free baked goods often are. Thus we’ve gone without a favorite snack for a very long time.
But today I noticed that I had 3 perfect bananas, begging to be put into bread. And I still had some C4C flour left in my canister…my best bet for recreating the flavor and texture that I love so much. C4C (aka Cup for Cup) is the brainchild of Lena Kwak, a pastry chef at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry restaurant. She’s been working for quite some time to create a gluten free flour to be used in baking that would closely mimic the flavor and texture of traditionally gluten-laden foods. Upon request at The French Laundry, she serves up gluten free goodies to thrilled customers, many of whom are brought to tears because it’s been so long since they were able to enjoy the simple pleasures of brioche, or cookies, or cakes that taste like they remember.
This flour is sold only at Williams Sonoma, and it costs a pretty penny ($20 for a three pound bag), but if you have a favorite recipe you are trying to duplicate, and you don’t have time or inclination to fiddle with flour combinations on your own, then I highly recommend this product. To be sure, it’s not a whole-grain flour, and it does contain dairy (which is an issue for many celiacs). If that bothers you, then don’t use it. But for the occasional recipe that you’d like to replicate from your pre-gluten free days, you really can’t beat it. Lena also usually responds to questions you might have about her product, and has even helped me troubleshoot a recipe. You can find her on twitter or facebook. For the record, I was not paid to do this review…nor did I receive any free products or incentives of any kind.
And the banana bread? It was perfect. Really, unbelievably perfect. Short of a side-by-side comparison, it tasted exactly like I remembered. Actually, it was better, because it didn’t make me sick. The kids could hardly contain themselves and made me slice it when it was still piping hot from the oven. The crumb was light and tender and it rose high in the pan. Most gluten free breads are best when eaten the same day. I’d like to tell you that this bread is equally good the second day, but sadly, there won’t be any left.
- ½ cup of butter, softened (one stick)
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure (gluten free) vanilla extract
- 1½ cups of all purpose, gluten-free flour blend (such as Cup4Cup)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend contains it already)
- 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½-1 cup mini chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a standard loaf pan.
- Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.
- Add the flour, baking soda and salt and beat until just combined. Stir in the mashed banana and sour cream and mix until completely incorporated. Carefully fold in the chocolate chips.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about one hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.