There are obsessions, and then there is the way I feel about the buckwheat banana bread from The Smile.
Every time I finish a slice, I hear whispers of that immortal phrase, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." We have a devoted Slack channel in the office where recent converts can discuss their love. This bread sits among my top five foods of all time, and is without a doubt my favorite baked good to buy in New York. I'll stop short of sharing a haiku about it, but if you're interested, slide into my DMs.
It has all the buzzwords (vegan, gluten-free, no refined sugar), but doesn't feel the need to put up a marquee advertising its excellence. When the team at The Smile agreed to share the recipe with us, it was a great day. Three hours later, as I was pulling a freshly baked loaf out of my oven, it was an even greater day. Of course, I immediately took a spoon to the pan after removing it from the oven. Don't do that. You want the bread to cool so it can reach its full potential.
The first key is to not mash the bananas into oblivion, so that when it bakes, you find little pockets of melted sweetness. The second key is to keep all the end pieces for yourself—that's where the crunchy turbinado topping makes magic happen.
Buckwheat Banana Bread
Recipe adapted from Rosanne Smith, The Smile, New York NY
Yield: One 8-by-4-inch loaf
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
⅓ cup hot water
⅓ cup olive oil
⅔ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⅓ cups almond flour
⅓ cup tapioca flour
⅓ cup buckwheat flour
3 tablespoons millet
⅔ cup toasted walnuts
1 banana, sliced lengthwise
¼ cup turbinado sugar
1. Spray the bottom and sides of an 8-inch loaf pan with non-stick spray and preheat the oven to 350°.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the flaxseed meal and hot water. Set aside.
3. Mash the bananas into large chunks, making sure not to mash into a purée.
4. In a medium bowl, stir together olive oil, maple syrup, vanilla and flaxseed meal mixture until smooth and even. Add this mixture to the mashed bananas using a spatula, making sure the mixture comes together well.
5. In a separate bowl, stir together baking soda, salt, cinnamon, almond flour, tapioca flour and buckwheat flour.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, half at a time, using a spatula. Add the millet and toasted walnuts and stir until evenly combined and distributed.
7. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and lay one-half of the banana on top. Pour the rest of the batter into the pan and lay the remaining slice of banana on top with the inside facing up. Sprinkle the top generously with turbinado sugar.
8. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating halfway, until a cake tester comes out clean.
9. Let cool and slice to serve.