Walnut-Raisin Banana Bread

We always get a ton of bananas in our co-op basket and they often go bad before I can eat them.  This week, I decided to make a tasty holiday bread to give away as Christmas gifts.

I modified this recipe from one on Epicurious.  I brought the bread to work and it was a huge hit! 

The end result is slightly sweet, dense, flaky, and tastes great with a little margarine and honey.  I iced the top of the bread with clove-almond frosting.   Although there are 3 different kinds of “holiday” spices in this bread, they really just add depth to the flavors without making the bread taste like a spice bread.  Don’t be afraid to make this throughout the year– it’s not just for Christmas.

Walnut-Raisin Banana Bread 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1/2 cup Earth Balance, room temperature
1 cup raw sugar
2 large farm fresh eggs (NEVER store bought!)
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (usually one banana)
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Black Walnut flavor
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs nutmeg

Yield: Makes one 9-inch loaf

To Toast Walnuts: Preheat oven to 375°F. Lay walnuts on a baking sheet (you can line it with foil or parchment paper for easy clean-up). Roast walnuts until they start to brown and smell toasted, 5 to 10 minutes.

To Convert to Whole Wheat: 3/4 cup + 2 tbs whole wheat = 1 cup all-purpose.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Combine chocolate chips and walnuts in small bowl; add 1 tablespoon flour mixture and toss to coat.

Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in mashed bananas, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat in flour mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of nut mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter over. Sprinkle with remaining nut mixture. Cover with remaining batter. Run knife through batter in zigzag pattern.

Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool.
Clove-Almond Glaze
5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup melted Earth Balance
5 tbs almond milk
4 tbs ground clove
1 tsp almond extract
Add melted Earth Balance and almond milk to a large bowl.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, stirring constantly.  Add additional almond milk to acheive desired consistency.  For a richer texture, add more Earth Balance.  Use less almond milk if you want to make a thick frosting, and more if you want a thinner icing.  I kept mine fairly thick because it melts as it spreads across the top of a warm loaf.

Freshly baked!

Wrapped for Christmas.

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