Ancient Grain Banana Breakfast Bread
April 17, 2011

Ancient Grain Banana Breakfast Bread | The Full Helping

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a new Friday ritual. As M makes his way to NYC, I like to bake a little something for us to enjoy together over the weekend. Usually it’s muffins, but this week, with a bunch of browning bananas on my hands, I decided to make a loaf of banana bread. I’ve made plenty of banana breads in the past, but since I’ve been playing around with alternative grain flours lately, it felt like a great time to test a new combination of flours in an otherwise traditional recipe. This ancient grain banana breakfast bread, which is made with a combination of regular, einkorn, and millet flour, is the happy result.

Ancient Grain Banana Breakfast Bread | The Full Helping

“Ancient grains” is the label given to grains and psuedograins that haven’t been changed considerably by selective breeding over the last several hundred years. In some sense all grains are ancient, as they’ve been cultivated by human beings for millennia, but ancient grains like einkorn, farro, kamut, spelt, sorghum, teff, millet, and quinoa more closely resemble the forms that existed many hundreds of years ago than some other contemporary grains.

I’m not of the mind that ancient grains are necessarily more healthful than other whole grains, like oats or rice, but I’m all for variety. I think it’s great that ancient grains are being explored, because each new whole grain option offers a unique nutritional profile and new culinary applications. Plus, many ancient grains have distinctive flavors: I’m thinking of the nuttiness of buckwheat and quinoa, the earthy flavor of spelt, and the slight sweetness of millet.

Whenever I bake with a new type of flour, especially a gluten free flour (like millet or quinoa flour), I make sure to only swap part of the flour in my regular recipe for the new variety. It’s difficult to trade all of the flour in a recipe for a different type without at least running the risk of compromised texture/results. Once I’ve swapped some of the flour I have a chance to see how the new flour is working in the recipe.

Here, I replace half of the regular flour with a half-and-half mix of einkorn flour (einkorn is a type of ancient wheat, which some folks with gluten sensitivity can digest) and millet or quinoa flour. Millet flour is a particularly nice option for those who are doing more gluten free baking: it’s light, sweet, and it has a medium “heaviness” that makes it really versatile. Quinoa flour is a nutritious and protein-rich option, albeit with a high price tag. (You can also try using 3/4 cup millet flour and 1/4 cup quinoa flakes, which adds some nice textural contrast to the recipe.)

Could you use regular flour in this recipe, and still have terrific results? Absolutely! In fact, my “template” for this breakfast bread was the same vegan banana bread I’ve been making for years, in which I typically use whole wheat pastry flour. But it’s fun to expand the baking repertoire to include more and different types of grain options.

Another nice feature of this bread is that it’s super heavy on the banana—I used four medium sized bananas in the recipe. This means that you can keep additional sweetener to a minimum and that there’s tons of moisture from fresh fruit, which means that very little oil is needed (only 1/4 cup for the recipe). The bread is a bit denser than other banana breads I’ve made, but I really like it’s thick heartiness.

Ancient Grain Banana Breakfast Bread | The Full Helping

Ancient Grain Banana Breakfast Bread
Recipe Type: quickbread, breakfast, snack, dessert
Cuisine: vegan, soy free optional, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12 slices
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unbleached, all purpose flour (substitute whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 cup einkorn or spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup millet or quinoa flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 small or medium bananas, mashed very well
  • 1/3 cup agave or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (such as grapeseed or safflower)
  • 1 flax egg*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly oil a loaf pan.
  2. Whisk together the all-purpose, einkorn, and millet flours, along with the baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the mashed banana, agave or maple syrup, oil, flax egg, vanilla extract, and vinegar or lemon juice. Add these wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until they’re just evenly combined.
  4. Transfer the batter to the loaf pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the top of the bread is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Check the bread for doneness at the 40-minute mark, just in case your oven runs hot. Transfer the bread to a wire cooling rack and allow it to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.
Notes
*To make a flax egg, mix together 1 tablespoon ground flax and 3 tablespoons warm water. Allow the mixture to thicken for a few minutes before using.[br][br]Leftover bread should be wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.

Ancient Grain Banana Breakfast Bread | The Full Helping

My baking skills are improving! I’m still no expert, and I have a lot to learn, but I’m getting my sea legs.

The sun is out in NYC, and there’s walking, eating, and farmer’s market perusing to be done. Happy Sunday, friends.

xo

The original recipe in this post was updated for better results, more accessible ingredients, and with new images in February 2017.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    55 Comments
  1. I have had this bookmarked for ages, and have just now gotten around to trying it. It is, my first attempt at baking anything vegan, since transitioning to a plant based diet. This tastes delicious, and was very moist, but it did not have the same texture as your average banana bread. It had a hard crust on the outside, but the inside was not exactly what I would call… Cake like, like what most banana breads tend to be. the inside texture was soft and chewy instead; despite the fact that my cake tester came out clean. Is this from the flours/grains used? I followed the recipe, saving for the xantham because I didn’t have any; and I also did sub maple syrup for agave. It wasn’t crumbly and came together quite well, but I wonder if it could have caused the difference in texture? It also did not rise that much; again, not like what I’m used to seeing in non vegan baked goods. So as someone else commented, the slices did not look like regular slices. So what is the texture supposed to be like? Thank you for all that you do! Your blog and recipes have been extremely helpful to me as I am very new to a plant based life style. 🙂

    • Because I think caloric density, while really useful to keep track of if you’re trying to lose weight, can be a very misleading way to measure up a recipe. A high caloric concentration can frighten or make anxious readers who are overly prone to worrying about numbers (the number on the scale, the number of calories in food)–even if the food is also very nutrient dense and healthful.

      Because so many of my readers have disordered eating histories or ongoing struggles, I think that posting numbers would likely be triggering. And since the approach I like to encourage is more intuitive–eat whole, nourishing foods to appetite, rather than meticulous tracking and measuring–I think it’s best to refrain from showing the nutrition facts. If I get a big reader demand, I’ll certainly consider it.

  2. Love your recipes, but wonder how much trouble it would be to get the nutritional breakdown alongside them … at least calories, fats, carbs (sugars, fiber)? S.

    • Not so much trouble, Susan, but for me, having calorie counts isn’t philosophically aligned with Choosing Raw, at least not at the moment. Sorry!

      • oops, wrong place.
        my response was supposed to go here …

        I can think of a few reasons why not to offer nutritional information (which of course we can all get for ourselves, if we want it bad enough), not the least of which is a deepening capacity to “feel” what the body needs, wants, what makes it function optimally

        … but I’m new to “raw foods” and would love to know what philosophy is being aligned with … many thanks xo

        • Ha! You kind of took the words out of my mouth. Yes, I think the intuitive approach is best for those who read this blog. But I totally get why you asked!

  3. this question is not totally related to the recipe, though i am very much looking forward to trying it. what is better for you? flaxseed or LSA? also could i substitute maple syrup for agave syrup?

  4. I have had this bookmarked for ages but just now got around to making it. It’s delicious! I just want to comment to let others know that I was able to make several substitutions, with great success! I substituted the flour with protein powder, used two bananas and replaced the third banana and applesauce with pumpkin puree, used stevia baking blend (1/2 c) in lieu of agave, and used macadamia nut oil instead of coconut. Really delicious, Gena, and I love recipes like this that can be adapted with great success based on what I have at home!

  5. Hi Gena,
    Thanks for the awesome recipe. I made it for a post-run brunch that I held today and everyone was really impressed with how good it tasted despite being free of gluten, animal products and sugar. My husband joked that it would probably be “taste” free too…lol… But it definitely wasn’t. The only thing that I would like to improve is that mine did not rise much at all! Yours looks like a proper loaf but mine was pretty flat so it didn’t look like slices of bread when I cut it. Any advice? The only modifications that I made was I used quinoa flour instead of flakes and sis not add xanthem gum. Would either of these be the reason?
    Thanks again for such a great way to get ancient grains into my family and friends!

  6. You out did yourself Gena. I have made GF breads before, and they were ok if fresh and warm, but the next day…. ugh.

    I just made this bread with buckwheat flour. It is the tastiest, moistest, bestest (not a word but appropriate in this case) bread ever. This will be a regular at my place.

  7. This sounds sooo wonderful. I’ve been veganizing and healthifying my favourite recipes recently and think I’ll definitely be trying this one out to see how the quinoa flakes work out. What is the reason for covering it for the last 15 or so minutes? Did you experience excessive browning or is it to keep in moisture?

    Thanks for the great sounding recipe!

  8. I did a few modifications myself and it came out quite delicious albeit a little less sweet/banana-y as your recipe and a little denser/spicier.
    Instead of using 1/2 cup agave+1/4 cup applesauce I used about 2/3 cup date paste + 2 tbsp maple syrup and half a (overripe) pear pureed.

  9. I know what you mean about baking! I’m just getting into it myself and I actually made a very tasty Upside Down Apple Pancake last weekend (found the recipe from Oh She Glows). I’m going to give this a try this week. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Any suggestions for turning this into date bread? Bananas are the one fruit I can’t stand, but I’ve been looking for a good date bread, and this looks like a great base. Do you think you could sub date paste for the banana?

      • I had some luck blending dates with almond milk to make a mashed bananaey texture for a brownie recipe I’m playing with. I think I used around 5 medjool dates (the super soft and sticky ones) and about 1/3 cup of mylk.

  11. Ahhh, yes!! Virtual hug for this recipe! I can’t wait to start playing around more with ancient grains + baking. The buckwheat bakes are about as far as I’ve gotten, and I’m hooked. Plus, it agrees with my stomach much more than wheat. You can tell that the bread looks so moist. Yum! Thanks G!

  12. This sounds so good–I’m learning to be a more creative baker too, and it’s a fun feeling. I love how this is something that you can enjoy and feel great about eating both.

  13. I’m so proud of you! I love grinding millet into flour in my Vita. It gives baked goods almost a “cornbread-y” texture. Feel free to use conbready as a new adjective whenever you see fit.

  14. this looks so tasty. yay for being gf! just wanted to say that coconut flour would not be able to be substituted directly 1 to 1. it sucks up an incredible amount of moisture so i often use 1/4 to 1/3 the amount of coconut flour to other flours!

  15. This looks and sounds amazing! I never bake but may just have to try this. Do I need a special blade in the Vita to grind the flour?

  16. This looks so delicious! I’ve wanted to try millet flour for a while. And it’s nice to see a breakfast quick bread that’s not banana bread. Don’t get me wrong–I LOVE banana bread, but this looks like another great breakfast bread option.

  17. Any idea how much flour to use in place of quinoa flakes? Could you do 1 and a half cups of millet flour instead?

    Thanks!

  18. The bread looks great and yes, you are becoming a baker and that’s great. Love all your salad recipes (featured your Sunshine salad on my blog on Friday) but I love seeing the diversity in your cooking and baking. And I love salads and all, but banana bread just steals the show 🙂

    “the chew and density that the quinoa seemed to give this dish” — great info.

    I make a vegan, GF banana bread using bananas and almond flour and Peanut Butter. So it’s definitely heavy…I need to try your recipe for when I need something a little less dense but still moist. Cake/bread cannot be dry or I won’t bother 🙂

  19. This looks delicious. I must try this one out soon. Your baking skills have come along very well. I hope you are having a great sunday.

  20. Yum!! Banana bread is right up there with pumpkin bread as my favorite quick bread recipe. And if this bread is as moist as you say it is, even better! There is nothing worse than dry banana bread, haha!

  21. A gluten-free baked recipe! Way to go! Thanks. I personally don’t bother to use the xanthan, I don’t mind it a bit crumbly. GF recipes with lots of bananas tend to work really well, thanks again!

  22. That looks DELICIOUS!!! It will be in your recipes page yeah!? I want to make it as soon as I have more time!
    I made some Mama Pea millet banana muffins once and they were sooo good, so anything that uses millet is a win already in my book 😛

  23. Ok, I’m going to have get me some of these quinoa flakes, you’ve convinced me! I too currently have some bananas on their last legs, so this recipe might be making an appearance in my kitchen very soon.

  24. This looks like something I might enjoy. I typically always have non-vegan baked goods, so it might be nice to try something different for a change. Plus I have quinoa flakes…and I have some buckwheat flour that might be a nice complement afterall.
    I like the fact that the ingredients are easily found, etc…too often I see ingredients that I don’t recognize, cost a fortune, or that are difficult to obtain. Simplicity is sweet.

    I bet it would be nice with chocolate chips and walnuts also.

    On another note, I’ve been eating a load of sweet potatoes lately..even sweet potato soup…I hope one can eat them every. single. day. I may turn orange…

  25. You had me at banana bread! This looks delicious and super wholesome, Gena! This is totally right up my alley, as I’m not doing very much wheat right now due to abdominal pain. I love using grain flours in place of all purpose or regular whole wheat. My parents come home tomorrow so I may just have to welcome them home with this yummy bread 🙂 Totally love every ingredient in this, too- no scary or exotic gluten- free ingredients like tapioca starch, etc.

    Have a good day- you deserve it 🙂

  26. THANK YOU for this recipe!! I have been DYING for a gf banana/quick bread recipe that isn’t sugar/fat laden, and this is so so perfect. Especially because it uses quinoa! Thanks a mil Gena, I always look forward to your recipes!

  27. I am loving quinoa flakes lately – and the creative ways people are using them Will definitely check this out. I’ve never tried millet flour before… what is the consistency like? Thicker, like spelt?