Gluten Free and Vegan Banana Muffin w/ Chocolate Chips Recipe
Gluten Free and Vegan Banana Muffin w/ Chocolate Chips Recipe
The kitchen staple.
A trusty banna muffin recipe is the solve to overripe black bananas attracting fruit flies in your fruit bowl. The banana muffin or banana loaf is a familiar constant in a home bakers arsenal. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to eat cake for breakfast?
Crack out the scale for this one. Not only do you save on having to clean measuring cups, but getting the flour blend exact is not something you can do with measuring cups. Save yourself time and hassle, just dump all the ingredients in one bowl and call it a day.
I baked for myself twice a week when I was in university.
One treat for my after meal desserts, like a cookie or brownie, and one “healthier” snack, which usually was banana bread or banana muffins. (listen to this reflection in the video above!)
Some would argue banana bread still is a treat, but as a sweet tooth, banana bread was the closest I could get to rationalizing cake for breakfast.
My mum made banana bread fairly often when I was a kid. In her attempts to make our home made baked goods healthier, she always cut the sugar of a recipe in half, and then cut half the sugar with maple syrup. A notorious “eyeball” baker (my term for someone who doesn’t measure things while baking), she never adjusted the flour or fat ratios for the reduced sugar, and given nothing was precise, her baked goods were always slightly different each time. However, the lack of precision never really phased her banana bread. It was always moist, not too sweet, and full of chocolate chips and walnuts (because my mum doesn’t bake things unless there are nuts in them).
Her recipe used cinnamon and allspice versus most traditional recipes having no spice and using vanilla extract. Why? Probably because it was in her pantry and grossly under used. She could have used nutmeg or cloves, but allspice and cinnamon was the go to for banana bread. I didn’t know banana bread was made spiceless until I ate banana bread from the university cafeteria, and wondered why there was no spicy taste.
On a complete tangent: maple syrup is not healthier than white sugar when it’s baked at 350 F in an oven. In its raw form, maple syrup contains nutrients that white sugar does not, so as a raw uncooked sweetener, it’s “better” than sugar. However, and this annoys me to this day, on a molecular level, that maple syrup, and any unrefined “healthier” sugar like agave or raw cane sugar, is being broken down from its complex disaccharide form into glucose and fructose the same way white sugar is. It’s hitting your bloodstream the same way white sugar is. And it’s the flame for the fuse of a chain reaction that controls glucose homeostasis between your cells.
Hot take: if you are trying to be healthy, why are you eating a baked good in the first place?
Eat some fruit (ideally, at least an hour before or after eating other foods)
People who try to claim maple syrup in baking is healthier do not understand how carbohydrates are metabolized. Frankly (and this is a hot take), if you are trying to be healthy, why are you eating a baked good in the first place? Eat some fruit. Stop trying to lie to yourself that a baked good made with unrefined sugar is better for you and your diet. Instead of baking a lack lustre treat that doesn’t satisfy like the real deal, have the damn white sugar loaded treat, enjoy it, and move on. Live in moderation, and enjoy all that life (and food) has to offer. Unless it makes you sick from having a tiny bit, treat yo’ damn self and feel satisfied with the real deal, instead of a bland knock off.
(written into reflection post filming) The only sugar that is easy to digest is honey. It’s a monosaccharide, so the gut has less work to do to digest it. It is also prefermented as it is basically a product of bee vomit. Coming from someone who is actually on a no complex sugar diet right now (no sugar of any kind except honey and fruit at certain times of the day), trying to justify one sweetner is healthier than the other is based in a pile of nothing. So, if you’re going for health…. just stop trying to justify unrefined sugar is better. For me. Thank you.
Back to the life story:
When I decided to stop eating the things that made me sick, banana bread was one of the first baked goods I took a stab at making gluten free and vegan. I had hoped the moisture from the bananas would moisten the grit of gluten free flour. Little did I know, bananas are also a fantastic vegan egg replacer. Their starchy texture and density moistens flour to stay in one piece. As long as the baked goods had banana as the main flavour note, bananas did the job for successful vegan baking.
The banana bread I made for myself at the time was acceptable for me. I loaded it with chocolate and nuts, just like my mum used to, so it was really just a soft banana vessel for my morning intake of chocolate. Naturally, I also used cinnamon and allspice versus vanilla.
Almost all gluten free households have had Bob change their life.
At the time, I had discovered Bob’s Red Mill. Almost all gluten free households have had Bob change their life. I really liked their all purpose flour blend, a combination of chickpea, sorghum, potato, tapioca and fava bean flours. Although it tasted like pennies because of the abundance chickpea flour (you’re probably asking why I know what pennies taste like… just think metallic and coppery), it wasn’t gritty, formed a passable crumb, and didn’t contain xanthan gum. This was key, because I found many gluten free flours with xanthan gum to be too gummy. At the time, I was not familiar with the proper handling of xanthan gum, and frankly most gluten free home bakers aren’t (why would you be, unless you’re blending your own flour you won’t really know how much a half teaspoon can make a difference). So I liked to stick to Bob’s All Purpose so I could control the xanthan gum amount (I really didn’t use much).
However, it was when I was preparing to open the bakery that I revisited that banana bread recipe, and tweaked it to be sellable. I was determined to balance out the metallic taste of the chickpea flour. It needed to stay in one piece when the paper came off the muffin (my muffin bottoms used to stick), or slice as one uniform slice versus a crumbly mess I just shoved in my mouth. It needed to rise and form a muffin-like dome instead of a flat puck, reminiscent of, you know, a real muffin. On top of it all, I wanted it to be half sweet, and then half the half with maple syrup, just like Karen’s recipe.
I remember launching this muffin into wholesale. We called it “Lady Banane”
I remember launching this muffin into wholesale. We called it “Lady Banane”, as I tried to have pin up style names for each of our baked goods to remain on brand. The banana muffin was a hit with my first two customers. I approached the Union Market, a convenience style store inside McMaster’s Student Centre, to be our first wholesale partner. They were the only food establishment on campus that was independent from the main catering mafia that ran the school’s food program. The partnership made logical sense: an alumnus now wanting to sell baked goods where she started her journey of inclusive dessert. I remember sitting down with Shaina, the GM at the time, and having her try the baked goods. She loved the banana muffin, but I remember her asking me if I had ever made Chrissy Teegan’s banana bread with vanilla pudding mix in it. Since vanilla pudding wasn’t vegan, I hadn’t. I didn’t actually try making Chrissy Teegan’s banana bread until 2021 when she launched her own premium baking mixes. The pudding enhances some moisture and flavour factors for sure, but frankly, it doesn’t make the banana bread any more unique than a classic, tried and true recipe.
These muffins were also a hit at Relay Coffee, my first cafe wholesale customer. Being refined sugar free, Rachel, the co-owner, naturally loved them. Dolled Up’s mission was fully realized at Relay. I started Dolled Up Desserts because I wanted to go out for coffee with friends and be able to get a treat that was actually tasty, and possibly sharable. I wanted people with dietary differences to feel connected, not left out, of social rituals that involved food. Rachel understood that feeling of sacrifice due to food restrictions. She also had many food restrictions. The support and consistency I got at Relay for the two years we worked together was unparalleled, and gave me enough money to hire my first part time baker. The best part: Rachel is someone I call a friend to this day.
This banana muffin recipe has not been tweaked since its wholesale debut in the summer of 2016. To the point where the folder where we share recipes still has the banana muffin recipe written out as a single, 12 muffin batch. Most of our recipes were recorded at scale to make best use of our large mixers. This one, however, our team just had to multiply out every single time.
There is nothing that could be better about her. She is gluten free vegan perfection. She is what your gluten loaded banana bread wishes she was.
I present to you, the OG Dolled Up Desserts Banana Muffin.
Until next time,