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Healthy Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Pecans and Dates
- cooking spray and flour for preparing loaf pan (if needed)
For the Batter:
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (fine grain, not flaked kosher salt)
- 1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe banana (about 4 medium or 3 large bananas)
- 2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
- 3 tablespoons nonfat milk
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup dried, chopped dates
- 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons chopped pecans (divided)
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Prepare a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan by spraying with cooking spray and/or lightly but thoroughly flouring the bottom (if needed – my pans don't need this). (See note below for more information on using a different pan size and adjusting baking for various types of pans.)
- In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, whisking to combine thoroughly.
- In a medium bowl, combine banana, dark brown sugar, egg, applesauce, milk, oil, and vanilla, stirring well to combine.
- Make a well in the flour mixture and add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist (do not over-mix).
- Add dates and 3/4 cup pecans (setting 3 tablespoons pecans aside), and stir briefly again, just to distribute evenly.
- Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle remaining 3 tablespoons pecans evenly over the top of the batter. Press pecan topping gently into the batter just a little (so they are a bit stuck into the batter but still laying on top – they will adhere to the loaf better after baking).
- Bake for 48-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center of the loaf comes out clean. If you notice that the pecan topping on your banana bread is getting more toasted than you'd like, you can tent the loaf with foil during about the last 10 minutes of baking.
- Cool banana bread in pan for about 10 minutes, and then carefully remove from pan to finish cooling completely on a wire rack. You may find it helpful to run a thin paring knife around the edge of the loaf to help it release from the pan, if needed.
Make-Ahead and Freezing: This banana bread recipe freezes well. After cooling completely, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the freezer in a freezer-safe zipper bag. You can also pre-slice the loaf and freeze individual portions.
Adjusting Bake Time and Temperature for Your Pans: Any quick bread recipe may need small adjustments in bake time and temperature, to account for different pan sizes and materials. If you're using a different pan size (other than the 9x5 we specify here), you may need to adjust the bake time a little. Also, if you're using a dark metal or a glass baking pan, you may additionally need to slightly change the oven temperature, possibly lowering it by about 25°F. You can read more about this in our post. Regardless, the key to a perfectly baked loaf is to check for doneness early and often, especially until you know how a recipe will work with your equipment and your oven.