Soft ricotta banana bread, gluten free

Legend has it that Cleopatra, the last active ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt, had seven hundred donkeys milked every day so she could opulently fill her bathtub to soak her royal self in. The properties of this magic milk supposedly prevented wrinkles and assisted in preserving youth and beauty. If I were to choose a dairy product to ablute myself in, it would be a tub filled to the brim with fresh ricotta. Since our local butcher started selling this soft cheese in adorable little blue basins, I have gone on a bit of a ricotta bender (which is certainly easier on my liver than a wild drinking spree would be.)

This versatile creamy white cheese is mildly sweet and tangy and is used in both sweet and savoury cooking. It makes a beautiful breakfast when smeared on crunchy sourdough toast atop some fruity berry jam. I have dolloped it between roasted eggplant, zuchinni and red capsicum in a vegetable bake. It’s been beaten into a lime ricotta cake, stuffed into veggies and baked and makes a great filling for eggplant involtini. Huge spoonfuls have been stirred through pasta sauces just before serving as well as added to mushrooms and thyme to fill a gluten free savoury tart.

Bananas past their prime cannot be wasted and what better way to use them up than in a banana bread that also calls for ricotta? Yes sure, recipes for this ubiquitous bake are a dime a dozen but this is a wonderfully soft, tender and aromatic loaf. It is even better when topped with just a smidgen more of that fresh ricotta. Go big like Cleopatra or go home.

SOFT RICOTTA AND BANANA BREAD

WHAT YOU NEED
113 grams (1/2 cup butter), melted
3 ripe bananas
1 large egg
3/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup fresh ricotta (not skim ricotta)
1 tsp vanilla extract
270g gluten free plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Pour the melted butter into a large bowl, add the bananas and mash well into a pulp.
Add the egg and beat until smooth.
Add the sugar, ricotta and vanilla and mix well.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the centre of the oven for 55-65 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (You may need to cover the top of the loaf with foil towards the end of the bake to avoid overbrowning.)
Remove to a cooling rack and let cool for about 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
We ate the crusts of this deliciously soft and moist loaf whilst they were still warm. Just wonderful.

Cooking notes: I have been getting really good results with a gluten free flour blend from Bobs Red Mill called ‘Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour.’ It is found in some supermarkets and health food stores. I have no affiliation with this company and haven’t been paid in any way, shape or form for mentioning this brand. I just really like it and couldn’t keep it to myself, that would be selfish.

A slight adaptation of this recipe

https://www.aol.com/article/lifestyle/2016/08/01/soft-ricotta-banana-bread/21442917/

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A little bit of what you fancy and gluten free banana bread

A particular comment on a television show we were watching recently has stuck in my mind. It was made by a British woman who had reached the magnificent age of 101. She was in remarkable good nick and during the interview had said ‘People always ask me, what is the secret to your longevity? And I always say, a little bit of what you fancy does you good but don’t make a pig of yourself.’

In this age of don’t eat this, eat more of that, eat less of that, eat only that; her view resonated with my food philosophy. Which would probably be ‘a little bit of this and a little bit of that, just don’t go nuts’. I will clarify this by saying that I do sometimes go overboard, being the happily imperfect human being I am.

Fanaticism and radicalism have never sat well with me. Sometimes it feels that my attempt at viewing food in a well balanced manner is under attack, albeit, by a well meaning barrage of good intentions. (It’s ok, no paranoia here, it is completely understood that it’s not directed purely at me.)

The issue is, as a devourer of new food information and being an open minded wee Cheergerm, it floats my boat to learn new things and experiment with different ingredients and recipes. It’s all about keeping it in perspective. Continuing to still enjoy what is loved as well as opening my mind up to new ideas. So the mantra of ‘a little bit of what you fancy’ is compelling in whatever direction that may take me.

Teresa Cutter, aka ‘The Healthy Chef’ has some great recipes. What I love about her is the many alternatives she provides in her recipes and so far, they have all worked. Three out of four CheergermYakatarians adore her nutritious (read low fat, low refined sugar) version of banana bread. I made a little adjustment and replaced some of the almond meal with sorghum flour to attain a lighter texture. Try using a stick blender to zshoosh the mixture as it really keeps the texture nice and light. The ground flaxseed acts as a fantastic natural binder in lieu of gluten.

This loaf is subtly bananaish, light and moist without too much squelchy almond meal texture. A hint of vanilla and cinnamon. Not sweet, at all…I mean, really not sweet but quite delicious with a smear of the good stuff, yeah, we are talking about butter. Give it a try, you might just fancy it.

GLUTEN FREE BANANA BREAD

WHAT YOU NEED
300g ripe, smashed banana (I only had 240g but it turned out fine)
3 eggs
60g/2 tbl maple syrup or honey
1/4 tsp vanilla powder or 1 tsp vanilla
60g or 1/4 cup grapeseed oil, macadamia nut oil or cold pressed olive oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp bicarb soda/baking soda and 1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup almond meal (120g)
3/4 cup sorghum flour (80g)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 160C.
Oil a loaf tin and line the bottom with baking paper. The size I used was 13cm x 22cm. The original recipe used 10 1/2 cm wide by 26cm long.
Combine smashed banana, eggs, honey, vanilla, oil, cinnamon, bicarb soda and lemon juice (the lemon juice activates the bicarb) into a large bowl and mix by hand or better still, use a stick blender or big blender of some kind.
Add the almond meal, sorghum flour and flaxseed and mix thoroughly.
Spoon batter into the tin and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cover the top with foil if it starts to overbrown. I covered my loaf at 40 minutes and it was ready at 55 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out.
Slice and serve with a creamy smear of butter.

A slight adaptation from Teresa Cutter
https://www.thehealthychef.com/2013/01/gluten-free-banana-bread/