Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Banana Applesauce Skillet Bread with Apple Chunks & Flaxseed

When my aunt gave me my first cast-iron skillet, I was in my early 20s and didn't cook from scratch often. For years, I only used the skillet to bake buttermilk biscuits on Sunday mornings. And they were canned biscuits back then. 

Yep. Real food journeys have to start somewhere!

These days I know how simple it is to make biscuits from scratch. Not only are they a thousands times better tasting, but fresh biscuits don't have any added chemicals or preservatives like the canned ones do. 

Of course I didn't know that back then. I was so proud of my fluffy biscuits. And rightly so, since cast-iron cooks things perfectly. As much as I love using it for stove-top meals, it shines in the oven.

I honestly can't believe I waited this long to to bake quick bread in mine. For years I stuck to my old favorite, a non-stick or glass bread pan. "Quick" breads in those pans take nearly 50-60 minutes, whereas a cast-iron skillet cuts the cooking time down to 30-35 minutes. 

I like that. Less time in the oven, more time in my belly.
Speaking of which, have you tried applesauce in your baked goods before? I first introduced it here last November when I posted my Pumpkin-Apple Harvest Muffins. Those suckers are moist! (Does that word bother you? Not me!) Applesauce is a great ingredient for muffins, breads, cookies, etc. because it gives baked goods extra moisture while reducing the fat content.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against healthy fats like organic unrefined coconut oil or organic, grass-fed butter, but I prefer to use them in ways I can still taste them! I'm fine with a low-fat muffin, especially since I usually spread a bit of organic nut butter on my pieces for extra breakfast protein.

And if you want to learn how to strategically ripen your bananas without spoiling your other fresh fruit or veggies, read my post to learn Five Tips For Making Your Produce Last Longer.

Banana Applesauce Skillet Bread with Apple Chunks and Flaxseed
A homemade banana quick bread cooked with a cast-iron skillet and made with overripe bananas and organic unsweetened applesauce to keep it moist and lower the fat content. There is less sugar used, but it's still plenty sweet with the bananas and applesauce. I added chunks of organic apple and both ground and whole flaxseed for extra fiber. 
Serves:  8-10 slices (or more if you cut it smaller)

3 over-ripe bananas (4 if they're tiny)
1/2 cup of organic brown sugar
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of organic, unsweetened applesauce
2 pastured eggs
1 tablespoon of real vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder
1 tablespoon of organic ground flaxseed (here's my favorite brand)
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt 
--I recommend Pink HimalayanCeltic or Utah sourced salt--
1 1/2 cups of organic, stone ground whole wheat flour
1 small organic apple, cored and diced
1/2 teaspoon of organic, whole and raw flaxseeds, for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cast-iron skillet with butter or cooking oil. In a large bowl, mash the bananas well with a fork. Mix in the sugars and applesauce. In a separate bowl, whip the eggs and add to the mixture, along with the vanilla extract, baking powder, cinnamon powder, flaxseed, baking soda and salt. Slowly add in the flour a bit at a time while stirring. Wash, core and dice the apple, then stir into the bowl. Pour the banana bread mixture into the greased cast-iron skillet, smooth the top and then sprinkle with the whole flaxseeds. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a fork or toothpick comes out clean when you stick it in the middle of the skillet bread.

Recommended Equipment
cast-iron skillet

Notes & Tips
If you don't own a cast-iron skillet, you can certainly make this in a regular bread pan or possibly even a cake pan, but you will have to adjust the cooking time. It will likely take longer for both methods.

Chia seeds are an excellent substitute for flaxseeds, or you could add chopped nuts instead.

If you don't have any applesauce, use 1/2 cup of melted butter instead. 

Don't have stone ground whole wheat flour? Substitute unbleached whole wheat, unbleached white whole wheat flour or regular unbleached flour. If you're new to whole wheat flour and not used to the denseness, you can use 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 white flour so it will yield a lighter product.
Looking for more banana recipes? Try these:

Question for Discussion: What's your favorite thing to cook in a cast-iron skillet?

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