I’m on a bread roll since baking the Cinnamon Raisin Bread this past weekend. I was looking for one of Mom’s recipes that could utilize some of the honey we have piled up in our cabinet. We love honey in my household and it definitely helps that these products have been used and endorsed by two of the world’s most popular chefs: Bobby Flay and Tom Colicchio.
Tom has said the honey is one of his “personal pantry essentials” and “favorite gifts.” He also admits he keeps a “jar of the stuff at my desk at all times.” Mom’s Honey Bran Bread recipe immediately came to mind and lucky for me, and for time’s sake, there’s no yeast involved so your prep time will be significantly reduced!
Baking Mom’s bread certainly helped demystify honey for me. For years I automatically (naively) assumed that because of its syrupy consistency and supreme sweetness that honey was not nutritious and had no real benefits. I’d default to sugar whenever and wherever I could. However, it wasn’t until I was educating myself that I learned honey is actually beneficial to your health, much more so than sugar.
First and foremost, honey is a natural sweetener that contains minerals and vitamins. It has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that aren’t present in sugar and has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) than sugar. In layman’s terms, the lower the GI, the more gradual and healthier the digestion process. In addition, milk and honey are often served together as both these ingredients help in getting a smooth soothing skin. And, honey contains nutraceuticals, which are effective in removing free radicals from our body. As a result, our body immunity is improved. I was amazed.
I was a bit skeptical that Mom’s Banana Honey Bran Bread could even measure up to some of her other celebrated desserts. But, I was willing to give it a try. I’ve never purchased or baked with bran so you can imagine my embarrassment when I went to the grocery store and actually purchased a box of Bran Flakes cereal thinking that would suffice for the required cup of bran for the batter. Next shopping trip I went to Whole Foods where they directed me to the bran section (not cereal area). I always receive a ton of hand holding and education on the myriad products at Whole Foods. I was very relieved when they picked out the right type of bran for me.
And, at the very least, I knew the combination of honey with the bran – a probiotic food (meaning it has natural antibacterial fighting properties)- would be a winning nutritious combination. But, what about its taste? Any time I’ve ever eaten bran, I’ve found the foods taste dried out.
I was curious to see how the bread would turn out after its hour in the oven.
I let the bread cool and was eager to sample the first piece. It was obviously grainier and certainly not as sweet and moist as the banana chocolate chip loaf. Its consistency was dense due to the bran but, it had a nice subtle flavoring of bananas and nuts and honey.
When polled, my kids definitely opted for the Banana Chocolate Chip Load simply because they said it was sweeter and tasted more like a dessert bread. However, they claimed the bran bread would be the perfect side to any breakfast meal.
In my second baking attempt, I would definitely add in 1 cup of dried fruits (probably cranberries or raisins). I would increase the amount of honey from ½ cup to a full cup. Additionally, there’s no harm in adding in more mashed bananas for a fruitier taste.
But, mentally, just being aware of the amounts of fiber and healthy honey sweetness in the loaf allowed me to appreciate the bread even more.
Banana Honey Bran Bread
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup bran
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cup mashed bananas
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In medium-sized bowl, sift dry ingredients together. Stir in walnuts.
- Beat eggs slightly. Add honey, oil, milk and mashed bananas.
- Add banana mixture to dry sifted ingredients and stir until flour is combined fully.
- Spoon batter into greased 9×5 loaf pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool on rack prior to cutting.
Notes: Since I’m not a huge nut fan, I ground up the walnuts in the Cuisnart before I added them to the dry ingredients. I would add more bananas and honey as the bran overpowers all the other ingredients.