I really don’t indulge in desserts much. I like to bake but usually, I just end up taking the sweets as treats to the office. It’s not that I don’t enjoy eating sweet things, I just don’t prefer the way rich food makes me feel. Instead of feeling satisfied, I usually just feel sluggish and bloated. Plus, I have a really sensitive stomach and I never know what’s going to set it off. It could be anything from eating too much sugar to too much dairy. So to avoid any discomfort, I just tend to stay away from anything overly sweet.
When I do decide to indulge, I choose recipes that don’t require a ton of sugar or a pound of butter. I also like to Incorporate fresh or dried fruit whenever possible. It’s my favorite way to add a little sweetness naturally. And if you sub out at least half of the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour, it helps make dessert feel a little more filling.
This quick bread basically has every component. I kept the sugar as minimum as possible by adding mashed banana and grated pears for unrefined sweetness. When choosing the “processed” portion, I used some raw sugar I had on hand. You could also use white sugar. If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour around, feel free to use whole wheat (it will be a bit more dense). Or, just use all all-purpose flour if you don’t have either. Because the cake is incredibly soft, I threw in some hazelnuts for texture. The chewy cake and crunchy, roasted nuts is the perfect texture juxtaposition. If you don’t have hazelnuts, feel free to substitute any nut you have on hand. I imagine almonds or macadamia nuts would be delightful as well.
When baking, this fruit-filled bread will permeate your house with the most magnificent smells of warm spice, which makes this a great dessert to prepare right before entertaining guests. The flavors of cinnamon and banana will bring you right into nostalgia. For me, I am reminded of my mother and her amazing banana bread. I used to get so excited once our bananas reached the ripening stage past raw enjoyment. Brown, speckled nanners always meant my mother would soon be in the kitchen whipping up my favorite treat. While I cannot say this bread quite compares to hers (is it possible to top your mother’s baking?), it does come pretty close. I love the soft, crumbly cake texture combined with a bite of crunchy hazelnuts. Each slice is laced with hints of pure sweetness. It’s truly a perfect combination.
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Pear Banana Bread with Hazelnuts
makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup mashed banana (1-2 ripe medium bananas)
1 cup grated pear (1-2 ripe pears)
6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted**
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup raw hazelnuts
7-10 pear slices for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Grease and flour one 9×5 inch loaf pan. Set aside.
3. Evenly distribute hazelnuts across a dry baking sheet. Roast for 5-8 minutes or until fragrant and skins begin to peel. Place semi-cooled hazelnuts into a tea towel and fold the towel over the nuts. Using both hands, roll nuts around in the towel until skins begin to remove. I wasn’t able to remove all skins, so if a few pieces remain no worries. Keep oven preheated.
4. In a medium sized bowl, add flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix lightly with a fork. Add hazelnuts to quickly coat with some flour (it prevents sinking) and remove floured nuts a small bowl. In a large mixing bowl, add mashed bananas, grated pears, melted coconut oil and sugar. Whisk everything together until it’s fully incorporated. Whisk in the egg and vanilla extract. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, using a spatula or spoon to completely incorporate the flour until adding more. Once consistency is similar to banana bread, stir in hazelnuts. Pour into prepared loaf pan and top with pear slices for garnish. You could also add some raw sugar on top for crunch.
5. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until the bread is lightly browned on the edges and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.
*Substitute whole wheat flour or just use all all-purpose flour if you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour.
*Substitute canola oil, butter, or vegetable oil if you don’t own coconut oil.