Tag Archives: grain-free

Prunia Walnut Bread

gl P1030442My primary motivation for creating this loaf was to use a big bag of prunes that was taking up space in the fridge. Plus I wanted to make some kind of bread I could keep eating when (Orthodox) Lent arrives, which is soon. When I saw a recipe for a prune bread using buckwheat flour, I saw another opportunity, to incorporate some of the many kinds of flours and grains I have stored up and haven’t been using.

I took ideas from that recipe I saw online and made my own version. The name Prunia comes from joining prune with chia (seeds), another item I had on hand and that figures prominently in the bread, as do walnuts. I love walnuts, especially when they have been toasted, and their flavor may be the most dominant one here.

The picture of honey at the top puts the brightest ingredient forward, color-wise. We have many jars of honey around here lately, the most wonderful being the quart of golden sweetness from Kit’s own bees, whom she had to leave in Oregon on The Farm, when she came here. I often buy honey from the nearby monastery, or receive it as gifts from friends… it all adds up to our being a household rich in honey.

Unfortunately, the other ingredients that the beautiful honey gets mixed into are very drab. Buckwheat flour is gray, gray, gray, and chia seeds and prunes are pretty much black. Walnuts are brown… When I look at a loaf like this:

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…it makes me remember a Garrison Keillor spoof on health food in which the high-fiber cereal being put forward as so essential for regularity was called “Raw Bits.” My loaf does look rough on the outside. It is fairly high-fiber, too, as well as being gluten-free and vegan — with what I consider just the right amount of sweetness.

Prunia Nut Bread    gl P1030440

 1 ½ cups buckwheat flour
½ cup coconut flour
3 cups walnuts, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cardamom
1/3 cup chia seeds soaked in 1 cup water
30 large pitted prunes, divided
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups plant-based milk

First toast the walnuts, 300° for 40 minutes, stirring once.

While they are toasting, put 10 prunes in a small bowl and pour on boiling water to cover.

Mix the chia seeds with the water in a small bowl.

Chop the remaining 20 prunes, sprinkling a little of the flour over them as you do, to keep them from clumping up again.

Into a medium-large bowl sift the flours, salt, baking powder and spices together.gl P1030441

When the walnuts are toasted and cooled, chop 2 cups coarsely and set aside.

Grind  the remaining 1 cup of walnuts in a food processor. Add these to the dry ingredients – but don’t wash the processor bowl yet.

Put the prunes and water in the bowl of the processor and purée.

In a medium bowl melt the coconut oil with the honey, then add the milk, the chia seeds and the prune purée.

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Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing in the chopped prunes and walnuts.

Put into oiled medium-sized loaf pans – or one very large – and bake for 50-60 minutes at about 350°. Cool on racks.

The bread comes out very moist and dense. I’ve made it three times in order to perfect my recipe, but each version was well worth the eating, which tells you that this recipe is still pretty tweakable. You might leave out the bit of coconut oil and I bet it wouldn’t be missed; or you could increase the amount of spice if you like more intensity. As it is it is a mellow loaf.

If I wanted to spend more time on the project, it would be to figure out how to use fewer cups and bowls in the mixing of the batter, and to do without the food processor altogether. For one thing, that little bit of prune purée is probably dispensable. But for now, for this Lent, I think I have plenty stashed in the freezer; the kitchen has been cleaned up, and I have a little more room in the fridge.

If anyone tries the recipe, let me know if you made any changes and how it worked.

Bon appétit!

gl P1030518

Banana Bread – traditional and favorite

paleo banana bread 7-14What could be more traditional than banana bread? Every thrifty cook has her special recipe that makes very good use of the ripe fruit. My old favorite was the Laurel’s Kitchen recipe, because it used the most bananas, and it includes both toasted walnuts and dried apricots – yum!

Nowadays  I rarely bake this kind of cake, for several reasons, but I still acquire bananas that am loath to toss. Last month I cut a few into chunks and froze them, with hopes that someone someday will want to throw them into a smoothie.

But then my Coconut Flour Project loomed. It all started with a humongous bag of coconut flour I bought at Costco, because I love everything coconut and am always trying to cut back on grains. Beyond the flour itself I hadn’t anything to show for my time spent thinking about what to do with what I thought was a great resource.

That’s not exactly true: I saw a recipe for coconut flour bread in Pippin’s files, and she warned me that for her it turned out “kind of dry,” but I eventually tried it. It might as well have been made with sawdust. Lesson learned: don’t use the stuff alone.

I had given up surfing and searching for coconut flour recipes and instead bought an old fridge to use in my garage, in which to keep my bag of coconut flour and other currently neglected semi-perishables, against some misty future when I would suddenly bake a lot again.

THEN Nikkipolani made some banana bread and mentioned it briefly on her blog, and because she said it was grain-free I followed the link to SlimPalate and found a recipe for which I had all the ingredients right here in one refrigerator or another. I even had the cacao nibs, but I didn’t add them, and it doesn’t seem P1100814that nikkipolani did either.

The crumb of this bread is so moist and tender – nothing dry about it. The banana flavor melts into the subtle almond and coconut, with honey and vanilla. I’d like to try it with the cacao nibs next time. I’m not sure this loaf will have enough opportunity to become the New Traditional, but it is now my favorite banana bread.

Update: I bought some bananas for the purpose of making this bread again, which I have now done. I had extra mashed banana so I made a 50% bigger loaf by increasing all the ingredients that much. I used large instead of extra-large eggs this time, so the batter was thicker, but the end result is not much different from the first time, and just as delicious.