Thursday, July 1, 2010

Whole Wheat Banana Bread and Muffins

Whole Wheat Banana Bread and Muffins

I love bananas!  They are my "go to" snack.  I grab one, eat it, and the banana keeps me full for quite awhile.  I love banana bread, so I was wondering about this whole wheat version from "Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day."

My local grocery store marks down their very ripe bananas on Mondays.  Just perfect for banana bread!  I am nicknamed "the muffin lady" in this store, so sometimes they will save ripe bananas for me.

The dough seemed quite wet.  It reminded me of the Whole Wheat Mixed Berry Bread.  

I created some steam in my microwave oven, where I would let my dough rise.  I put a post-it note at the top of the dough, so I could see the amount of rise.  Several hours later, you can see that the dough really did rise!  Success!

I wanted a rectangular loaf that would be easy to slice.  I found a folding technique in "A Blessing of Bread--Recipes and Rituals, Memories and Mitzvahs" by Maggie Glezer.  Ms. Glezer has wonderful interviews with long time bakers who share their baking techniques.  I just love reading stories of the bakers!  And they share their wonderful tips!!  One bagel and bread baker shared his folding method for a loaf of deli rye bread that would be sliced for sandwiches.  I used it on the Whole Wheat Mixed Berry Bread and just loved it!  I will repeat it here, it's so wonderful.

Start with a thick rectangle of dough. Then,
      "To shape the loaf, fold opposite edges in to the center of the dough and press the dough to even its thickness (1,2 below).  Roll the dough up from a long (not the folded) end (3,4) to make a log that is about 3 inches in diameter and 9 inches long.  (Basically, you want to make a short fat log so you will have big slices of bread for sandwiches.)  Roll the log back and forth to even it, then place it seam side down on the peel or board."

Then cover the loaves with plastic wrap to rise.

As you can see in the picture below, this method creates a uniform rectangular loaf.  I like the shape better than a regular oval or letter fold technique:

We liked this bread.  It reminded us of the Whole Wheat Mixed Berry Bread.  We first ate it on Friday night, and found ourselves snacking on it all weekend!

Handwise tips:  If you have hand pain, tendonitis, or arthritis or any other pain issues and want to make this recipe,
  • Make the dough several days before you bake.
  • Shlep once, bake twice!  Our group tends to make a recipe a week, and posts about them every two weeks.  I don't like pulling out my five-pound containers of flour. Filling up a smaller container more often is bothersome.  Some time and energy is saved by measuring out the dry ingredients for both recipes at once.   You can easily measure out the flours and salt.  I measure by scale, which I think is faster than measuring by cups.  It's more accurate, too--a cup is a cup, no matter whether you fluff the flour or pack it in. Just be sure to label what's in your container!
  • A mixer or food processor can help you.  You could put soapy water in it and maybe run it for a few seconds to help clean it after removing the dough.  
  • Then, if you are using a food processor, remove the dough hook/blade so that you can fill up the bowl even more.  Put an empty (cleaned)  container from 35mm film upside down, over the center portion and you can fill it up higher to soak. The water shouldn't leak out!
  • Let the dough rest if it resists stretching out.  Wait 10-15 minutes after doing the gluten cloak, and it easily should be able to be shaped.  Good time to have a seat and rest your hands!
  • I used a muffin scoop and a small spatula to remove the dough for muffins.  For some people, that's easier than squeezing the muffin scoop handle.
  • Maybe making a loaf on 2 separate days.  You don't have to bake it all at once.
  • Soak your tools in your empty dough bucket or a pan when you are finished using them.  That way, you can wash them easily later (or tomorrow!)  Give yourself the permission of time to clean up much later.
Thanks for stopping by to visit!  I hope you will leave a comment below.  Maybe you can add a handwise or time saving suggestion that will help others?

About the HBinFive Baking Group
The HBinFive Baking Group, started by Michelle of Big Black Dogs, is baking through all of the breads in the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes book. For more information on the HBinFive baking group, check out BigBlackDog.


  1. Hi Judy, I was just wondering why you put your bread in the microwave to rise instead of on your counter. Does it make a difference?

  2. Great post Judy! I love the folding technique and will that to my repertoire, especially for my husband's breads. He wants a good size loaf for sandwiches, but other than putting it in a loaf pan it's difficult to get on some of the HBin5 & ABin5 doughs! thank you!

    I also love the tips for those with handpain. I am going to send this post to my stepdaughter who has carpal tunnel...she uses a breadmaker but I think these ideas are great for all breadmakers!

  3. Hi Bonnie,
    I really like using my microwave as a proofing box now for several reasons. First, I gotta mention that the microwave is NOT on other than heating up 1/4cup of water for one minute before putting the dough into the microwave to rise. I do not heat the dough!

    The steam really makes a warm environment for the dough! The dough seems to rise better, and faster. I try to keep the kitchen about 74 degrees and not humid.

    It's a small space, and stays warm. I LOVE the yeasty smell in the microwave when I open the door after the timer goes off.

    If I put it on my dryer in the laundry room (which you would think is a warm spot), the air conditioning vent blows right on it.

    If I put it in the sunroom, which is warm this time of year, I have been known to forget about it! There are times when the timer goes off and I think I'll do something before removing the dough and then I forget. If I put the dough in the microwave with a post-it note on the microwave, I am less likely to forget it.

    It gives me more counter space (YES!) while I get a jump on my cleanup. Most of the time, I don't bake the same day I make the dough, anyways. So I clean up more easily during the rise--the dough is out of the way.

    The microwave is a short walk to the garage fridge, where I keep my doughs. It's easier to get lazy in the other possible rising locations.

    If you try it, could you let me know your thoughts?



  4. Hi Ezzie,

    Thanks for your wonderful comments! Let me know your experience with this folding technique. I wonder if your hubby would like the deli rye bread made this way? It makes cutting bread for a sandwich much easier.

    Thanks for your comments on my Handwise tips! I am really trying, and putting some thought into these tips.

    I started out on a bread machine also. I don't know where your stepdaughter is in her recovery, but I hope these tips help her. And maybe my tips can help her expand to baking with the AB5/HB5 method. I think a bread machine is nice, but somewhat limiting.

    Maybe she would like to join my blog? I would love to hear her comments. Her experiences and ideas may help others.

  5. Ezzie, PS--have her join ONLY if she can be on the computer for a limited amount of time! I don't want to contribute to her pain and/or tingling. There's enough everyday hand use that can contribute to that!!!

    If she bakes with the breadmachine, even measuring out some of the ingredients the day before baking can help.

    Here's a bonus tip--people like to shake hands in many situations. They can't understand why a person won't. They don't know about people having hand pain. I might suggest her reaching to shake hands and then turn her wrist while shaking so her hand is pivoted and more on the top. Having a hand on top is less painful than a hand in the usual handshaking position. I don't know if my instructions help. If she wants a short video, I bet I can get my hubby to help.


  6. Thanks, glad you like the shape. I think it was a good experiment.

  7. I really like the shape of your bread also, looks like it will make very nice sandwich slices. Keep up the excellent hand tips.

  8. mmm, whole wheat banana bread! I love it :) Whole Wheat is just so healthy and we love it and try to incorporate it more. This recipe would be perfect with some Kamut Wheat! Thanks!

  9. Hey, Kamut sounds wonderful! I'll have to try that! Thanks for the nice comment.

  10. The bread looks beautiful! I love your tips; they make such good organizational sense even if you don't have hand problems. Thanks!

  11. Thanks so much, Jayne! I really appreciate the encouragement. I also could add some more time-saving tips.

    It sure keeps me thinking as I bake, wondering how to simplify and make it easier.

  12. the loaf looks wonderful! I loved it toasted with peanut butter :)

  13. WOW..JUDY! You are baking up a storm lately. And I know you enjoy making bread so more power to ya!

  14. Great Shape and interesting shaping thanks for sharing.

  15. Thanks, Carolyn! This method of shaping makes a loaf that's much easier to slice. I always use it when making a loaf that will be used for sandwiches.

  16. I like your folding technique, so much better
    than the letter fold. Will be trying this the
    next time for my loaf breads too. Thanks for