Today we had a guest (gasp), since I’m trying to convince Man-thing to not neglect his longstanding friends and to be less lazy about socializing outside his 2km comfort zone. My rule now is if I have a social outing, he must likewise concoct a reason to get together with pals, where possible. Being social in small doses does one good, according to some studies, and it also helps test one’s communicative skills, which can, as a dork, sometimes be lacking. It is, furthermore, a good excuse to bake or make goodies. Man-thing asked me what I desperately wanted to try out, given that we had an opportunity to feed someone a snack, and my first response was a raw cake. That idea, however, didn’t go down too well, so I figure I need to slowly introduce more raw desserts rather than springing them onto the family, and in the meanwhile stick with the traditional. Strawberry banana bread with poppy seeds is as traditional as I can be at the moment, but what nomness!
I love banana bread – I’ll still get round to using buckwheat flour and other agents of rawness in my sweet breads, but I still adore my dear old fine rye flour – something about it is so comforting and dense, in that it absorbs flavours quite readily.
Strawberry banana poppy seed bread
- 1 cup fine rye flour
- 1 cup oat, ground to a flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- pinch salt
- splash cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger (or spices of choice)
- 1/2 cup organic carrot juice/water
- 3 medium bananas, mushed
- 1 cup strawberries – half sliced and the rest diced
- 2 TBSP applesauce
- 1 TBSP poppy seeds
- 1 tsp caramel essence
- 1 TBSP agave syrup
- 1 TBSP cacao powder
- 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
- Preheat to 180C and prepare a loaf pan.
- In one bowl, mix your dry ingredients together and set aside.
- Set aside your sliced strawberries for the end.
- If using carrot juice or even soy/non-dairy milk in place of water, soak the poppy seeds in this liquid for 10 minutes or so.
- Mash the bananas and add together all the wet ingredients, including the diced strawberries.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and pour/spoon out into the loaf pan.
- Arrange the strawberries artfully atop the loaf mixture.
- Bake for 30-45 minutes, according to how squishy you like your bread. I like mine squishy so I only baked it for 35 minutes.
- You can even toast banana bread! (new revelation)
Note: Not everyone may enjoy the carrot juice – it gives an undertone that is apparent in this banana loaf- much more so than its presence in any cake I’ve baked. I enjoy it but it is easily swept away once you pile on spreads and other things. Still, experiment! You may even sub it for a sweeter juice if you prefer, or else a lovely almond soy milk if you have an aversion to straight-up water.
There’s so much one can do with a banana bread – add grated zucchini and dark chocolate nibs (next project! mmmmm), some roasted & pureed pumpkin…heck, even a bunch of sweet peas could work with a lovely balsamic drizzle atop.
I guess it all depends on how adventurous you or your guests/tasters are. South Africans on the whole aren’t always too radical in their approach, so I laid out some peanut butter and jam, but for the tasting we tried it with almond butter. One can never go wrong with that divine, thick but creamy bliss! I’m running out rather quickly, much to my horror, so I’ll spend some time over the weekend making my own, because it’s actually not too difficult and then there’s the added benefit of having MOAR!
Clearly, the moral of the story is that having friends is actually a very big blessing, especially if there’s pudding 😀 I’ve lost touch with so many people over the years, having moved around the world like clockwork every four to five years in my youth, but now that I’m settled down in one spot and refuse to renew my passport it’s such a relief to tentatively try out my social skills and to try and build friendships that may hopefully last. I’ve had some rather spectacular fails in the past where my brain couldn’t process the requirements for keeping in touch with people (even if they lived in my city!) and I have much regret over those, especially because I dearly miss their company and wonderful personalities. Is such life? Most likely one doesn’t need to be a diplomat’s brat to experience the wax and wane of affection or attention to friendships, but I envy those who were born and raised in one area or space, though in reality I can see it grates on their bones.
Still, there is commonality to be found between all humans – one needs to gently weave those ties together to strengthen them – turn them into life-lines. And that’s where food comes in – it always seems to be the centre around which social functions occur – whether at a braai (bbq), birthday party or a lunch-time tea. It’s not only about consuming food together in a shared space but also the history of the food, the choices made and the presentation; the mood they elicit and the memories formed. Wonderful gifts!