This maple banana bread is made without using any refined sugar, just maple for both sweetness and flavor. The maple complements the natural sweetness of the bananas and results in a ‘just sweet enough’ loaf that won’t spoil your dinner.
Feel free to make it either with whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour. This recipe, in particular, is a good place to use whole wheat. With the moisture from the bananas and maple, very few people can tell the difference.
Go ahead and increase or decrease the amount of maple to add more or less sweetness. I’ve made this recipe with as little as 1/4 cup and as much as 3/4 cup successfully. The good maple used to be called ‘grade B’ so Vermonters could keep it to themselves, but it’s now labeled ‘Grade A Dark Amber’ so that it sells better to tourists that thought ‘Grade B’ meant not as good.
Either way, the darker the syrup, the more maple flavor and the better it is for making maple flavored baked goods. If you can only find light syrup, try adding a tiny splash of maple flavoring to make up for it.
Making banana bread with whole wheat flour isn’t about making it a health food. Serious Eats has a good discussion of why whole wheat just makes better banana bread:
“Don’t mistake this for a diet-friendly move; whole-grain flour can absorb (and retain) more water than all-purpose, and that accomplishes three things. One, it allows the batter to accommodate more banana purée without turning to soup. Two, it creates a thicker batter, resulting in a more attractive peak. Three, it helps keep the loaf from drying out, improving its texture and shelf life.”
They also suggest using sour cream or greek yogurt in the batter, “because thicker batters peak more in the oven, for a loaf that’s nicely domed rather than flat.” That results in a more attractive top of the loaf. It’s a simple thing, but it also helps keep it moist and tasty, while making the bread more beautiful.
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