Perfect Banana Bread – Vegan, Gluten-free

VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE BANANA BREAD

Who doesn’t love banana bread? To me, it’s comforting and reminiscent of childhood. I can remember baking banana bread as a kid when the bananas on the counter had gotten too ripe. Nearly every cook I know has a banana bread recipe. This is mine, and I proudly share it with you. As are all my recipes, it is completely gluten-free, vegan (egg and dairy-free) and soy-free. It is also low in sugar and fat. If you are unfamiliar with the ingredients in this recipe, don’t be turned off from making it. This is a great first-time recipe for getting into gluten-free and healthier baking. Once you buy these special ingredients, you’ll be glad you did because you will want to make this recipe more than once!

Best Ever Gluten-Free -and Vegan Banana Bread!

I have made this bread several times now, because it has been requested to often! I first came up with it for my mom and step-dad who were both recovering from surgery. It is a fantastic thing to bake as a gift to welcome neighbors, or as a get-well-soon treat. It really is warm and comforting. Another great thing about this recipe is it is low in sugar. The first few times I made it, I used only raw agave as the sweetener. It was subtly sweet and very delicious this way. If you prefer a sweeter tasting banana bread, add the optional sugar that I list in the recipe (coconut sugar would also work fabulously here). I also use coconut oil in this recipe, which is easy to digest, is said to increase metabolism, and helps to absorb nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Purchase organic, virgin coconut oil. For more information on the health benefits of coconut oil, see these  links.

Best Ever Gluten-Free -and Vegan Banana Bread!

Perfect Banana Bread
vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, peanut-free
yield: One 10 x 5 x 2.75 inch loaf -or- Six 5 by 3.5 by 2 inch mini loafs

1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup millet flour
3 tablespoons arrowroot starch (can substitute with tapioca starch or corn starch)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 large very ripe bananas)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or almond milk)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
1/3 cup organic virgin coconut oil, (liquefy by melting in a saucepan on low heat)
1/2 cup organic raw agave nectar
3 tablespoons organic natural cane sugar (optional, but will make the bread a bit sweeter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 10 x 5 x 2.75 inch loaf pan (or six 5 by 3.5 by 2 inch mini loaf pans) with a little bit of coconut oil.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: sorghum and millet flours, arrowroot (or corn starch), baking powder, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine the very-well mashed bananas, coconut milk, apple cider vinegar and ground flax seed and mix well. Let sit for a few minutes before adding the coconut oil, agave nectar and cane sugar (if using), Mix until smooth and well combined.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients by using a rubber spatula to push the flour mixture up unto the sides of the bowl. Begin to carefully pour the wet mixture into the dry about one cup at a time. Using the rubber spatula, gently fold the dry in with the wet until just mixed and you have a smooth batter (some lumps are okay). Immediately pour the batter into the pan(s). If making mini-loafs, about one cup of batter will fit in each loaf pan. If making the large loaf, fill with batter about three-fourths way full.

If making the large loaf, bake on the top center rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Rotate pan, then bake another 10-15 minutes. Use a wooden skewer or toothpick to check doneness. If toothpick comes out clean, the bread is done! Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before slicing.

If making the mini loafs, place all 6 loaf pans on the top center rack in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before slicing.

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Is there anything special you like to bake for someone you love who is under-the-weather? For me, it is definitely this banana bread. This is the best banana bread I’ve ever made or eaten. No one will ever guess it’s vegan or gluten-free. And it’s cholesterol free, contains good fats, and is 100% healthier than the sugary, buttery banana bread you may have been used to as a kid.

Mini Falafel Tacos with Sriracha Tahini Lime Sauce

Mini Falafel Tacos with Sriracha Tahini Lime Sauce

Tacos are basically the perfect, fastest and simplest thing to make for a gluten-free, soy-free and vegan meal. Why not falafel tacos? They are absolutely delicious, and a perfect marriage of two different cuisines.

Mini Falafel Tacos with Sriracha Tahini Lime Sauce

Usually when I make falafel, I bake it to keep it lower in fat, but for these tacos, the falafel is pan-fried in a little sunflower oil. The bottoms and edges of the falafel become nice and crisp. I whipped up a spicy, tangy sauce for these tacos, which really ties it all together. The sauce is zesty from the fresh lime juice, spicy from the Sriracha, and the tahini really gives it that classic falafel sandwich flavor.

Mini Falafel Tacos with Sriracha Tahini Lime Sauce

Mini Falafel Tacos with Sriracha Tahini Lime Sauce

1 recipe of my falafel or my ancient red pepper falafel

1 package mini corn tortillas, or 2 packages regular size corn tortillas
Recipe will make a lot of falafel (about 36 balls); you’ll have a lot of leftovers, or a large taco party!

Sriracha Tahini Lime Sauce
3 tablespoons sesame tahini
3 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
3 tablespoons salsa verde
juice from 1 lime
1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut milk, or water

To garnish:
3 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3-4 leaves green leaf lettuce, chopped

3-4 tablespoons high-heat organic sunflower oil, for frying

For the falafel: Follow my instructions for falafel up until the cooking stage. Roll falafel mixture into tablespoon-size balls and slightly flatten using your palms. Heat a cast-iron skilled to medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil, enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and up about a half an inch or so. Place falafel balls into the hot oil and cook about 2 minutes before flipping to cook the other side, another 2 minutes (until nicely browned). Repeat until all falafel are cooked. Place cooked falafel on a paper towel, or clean cloth-lined lined plate.

For the sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, sriracha, salsa verde, and lime juice until well mixed. Then add the coconut milk, or water, to make a smooth consistency. Pour sauce into a glass mason jar with a lid and keep it in the fridge until ready to use.

To assemble tacos: warm corn tortillas in the oven, toaster oven or microwave. Top each tortilla with 3-4 falafels. Drizzle with Sriracha Tahini Lime Sauce. Garnish with fresh chopped tomato and crunchy green leaf lettuce and more Sriracha Tahini Lime Sauce.

Mini Falafel Tacos with Sriracha Tahini Lime Sauce

Falafel is taking over my blog! It’s something that we all love to eat around my house. Is there something you make regularly that you just don’t seem to get sick of? For me, it’s falafel, tacos, and anything pumpkin. Nom……

Mini Falafel Tacos with Sriracha Tahini Lime Sauce

Fruity Tahini Snack Bars

Fruity Tahini Snack Bars

Welcome to the new RansomCakes.com! I feel great about the name change, as Ransom Cakes has been the name of my little baking obsession for years. When I first starting my blog, I had no idea what it would turn into. As it happens, over a year later, it has become my space to share my recipes more than anything else. For more on this, see my About section. Thanks to everyone who reads my blog, likes my facebook page, follows me on twitter, and pins my recipes on pinterest. It is seriously so cool of you all.

Fruity Tahini Snack Bars

On to today’s recipe: Fruity Tahini Snack Bars. I set out to make a gluten-free, healthy-ish, breakfast bar and these fit the bill. They are soft little snack cakes that are just begging to be wrapped in paper, twine and taken along on a picnic. Containing no white sugars, full of healthy dried fruits, gluten-free grains and nuts, protein packed tahini. Also made with fig butter, another fantastic and highly recommended find from Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have fig butter, use fig paste, apple butter or pumpkin butter (yum).

Fruity Tahini Snack Bars

Fruity Tahini Snack Bars
yield 12 servings / 1 –  9×9″ cake/loaf

1/2 cup fig butter  (or fig paste, or apple butter)
1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup organic raw agave nectar
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup flax milk (or almond, or coconut milk)
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
1 teaspoon alcohol-free pure vanilla extract
1 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup dried fruit (I used a combination of cranberries, currants and blueberries)
3 tablespoons sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Line a 9 by 9 inch square pan with enough parchment paper that all sides are lined as well as the bottom.

In a large bowl, using a strong whisk or an electric beater, combine the fig butter (or other fruit butter), coconut oil, agave, tahini, flax milk (or almond/coconut milk), ground flax seed and vanilla. Mix very well, until smooth and creamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flours: oat, millet and almond. Add the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and sift thoroughly. Create a well in the center of the dry mixture and slowly add the wet mixture, using a rubber spatula to gently fold together the ingredients. When batter begins to come together, add the dried fruit and gently combine.

Pour the batter in the prepared pan, sprinkle the top of the batter with sliced almonds, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, turn off oven, and let rest for about 10 minutes in the pan. Carefully lift the cake from the pan by grabbing the sides of the parchment paper, and place parchment on top of a large flat cookie sheet. Let cool for 15 minutes. Slice into 12 equal bars and carefully space the bars apart so they are no longer touching. The easiest way to do this is by taking the flat side of a large knife and sliding them over and away from each other. Turn the oven back on to 300 degrees Farenheit. Bake for another 15 minutes, until sides are slightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool before wrapping up for lunches or serving with tea.

Fruity Tahini Snack Bars

Make these bars to bring on camping trips, nature hikes or to stuff in your kids lunch box. Honestly though, we had them for breakfast, which was just as fine.

Fruity Tahini Snack Bars

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce (V, GF, SF)

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce

I’m happy to be participating in the third ever Virtual Vegan Potluck. This is my second time participating, and suprise – I made a dessert. Last potluck, I brought a delicious Vegan French Silk Pie, which has actually become my most visited recipe on my blog. In the last six months I have ditched gluten and soy, so this time around I’m bringing a wonderfully rich, decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce topped with fleur de sel – completely vegan, gluten and soy free.

CHocolate Hazelnut Tart

This dessert is best serve chilled, and removed from the fridge right before serving. When it comes to room temperature, it becomes a little bit soft and crumbly, but is still quite tasty. The filling is almost raw, and although I did not test it, I believe the crust could be made raw by skipping the baking altogether, and freezing before filling. If you try this, let me know! I don’t have a tart pan, so I made it in an 8×8-inch cake pan, which worked great. If you have a tart pan, then yours will turn out even better. I did also make this as 12 mini tarts. If you do this, just cut the baking time by about 10 minutes.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce
Vegan, Gluten-free, Soy-free
makes 1 8 X 8″ square tart, or 12 mini tartlets

Crust Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup hazelnut flour*
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, dutch processed  – sifted
1 tablespoon organic maple sugar {or vegan cane sugar}, (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil (or vegan, soy-free butter), at room temperature

Filling Ingredients:
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, dutch processed – sifted
1/4 cup pure cacao butter, melted
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon alcohol-free pure vanilla extract

Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce:
2 tablespoons organic maple sugar
1 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon soy-free, vegan butter {or coconut oil}
1/4 cup hazelnut butter*
3 tablespoons almond milk
1 teaspoon alcohol-free pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

*To make hazelnut flour and hazelnut butter, I explain it in this post. You can substitute almond flour and almond butter.

To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Line an 8×8-inch cake pan with parchment paper so that all sides are covered and crust will be easy to lift out. Sift together the hazelnut flour, almond flour, cocoa, maple sugar and salt until well combined. Add the coconut oil and mix well. Press the dough into the pan so that it covers the bottom and about an inch up the sides. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, rotate pan, and bake another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool, then cover and place in the fridge until ready to fill.

To make the filling: Cacao butter is solid at room temperature, so I like to melt it before adding it to recipes. To do this, cut or break off a few chunks of cacao butter and place in a clean glass mason jar. Place the jar in a cup half-full of boiling water. The cacao butter will start to melt slowly. When liquified, measure it out into 1/4 cup (or 4 tablespoons). In a bowl, whisk the warm cacao butter into the sifted cocoa powder until a nice chocolate paste forms, then add the maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk until silky smooth. Pour the chocolate filling immediately into the prepared crust that has been cooled. Spread the filling till it reaches the sides of the crust using a rubber spatula. Cover tart and refrigerate until seconds before serving. Slice the tart into 12 equal squares.

To make the caramel: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the maple sugar, maple syrup and vegan butter until it comes to a slight bubble. Add the hazelnut butter and almond milk and use a rubber spatula to combine. Allow mixture to return to a slow boil and let cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and salt. Slowly stir with the rubber spatula until creamy. Let cool for a few minutes and pour into a squeeze bottle. Top slices of the tart with the caramel sauce right before serving. Sprinkle some coarse sea salt on top of caramel if you’d like.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce

Serve with tea or wine, well after a nice vegan potluck dinner.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart w/ Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce

To go on to the next recipe in the potluck, click here. To return to the recipe before mine, click here. To start from the beginning of the potluck, click here.

Hazelnuts: A How To…

Roasting Hazelnuts

Roasting hazelnuts is fast and simple, and is the starting off point to make my Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce.

To roast hazelnuts, start out with a 16 ounce bag of raw hazelnuts. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Spread out the hazelnuts on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Next, you want to remove the skins. I find the easiest way to do this is with clean hands (no towels necessary). Rub the hazelnuts between your fingers and the skins will fall right off. Some nuts will be stubborn and hang on to their skins, that’s okay too. Place the blanched hazelnuts in a container to cool completely.

Roasted, blanches Hazelnuts

To make hazelnut meal (hazelnut flour): Place roasted and blanched hazelnuts in a blender or food processor and process until crumbly and resembles flour. To make my hazelnut butter, remove 1 1/2 cups of hazelnut flour from the blender or food processor.

Hazelnut Meal (Hazelnut Flour)

To make hazelnut butter: In a blender or food processor, process 2 1/2 cups hazelnut meal, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, 1/4 cup almond milk and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Blend until very very smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Roasted Hazelnut Butter

Apple Cake Donuts

Apple Cake Donuts

If you’re American, chances are you call them donuts, and if you’re anything else but American, they’re doughnuts. I usually opt for the “ough” spelling, but the flavor of these beauties is fabulously Americana – so I’m going with donuts. I’d almost like to call them “Apple Pie Donuts” because the flavor is absolutely of an apple pie, although the texture is a traditional cake donut you’d find in a coffee shop. They are perfectly cakey; sweet from the apple and touch of cinnamon, tangy from the coconut yogurt. The best part of these, they are gluten-free, soy-free, yeast-free…. and vegan of course.

Apple Cake Donuts

I was a bit lazy with these, not bothering to mess with a doughnut pan, or circle cutters. I treated them more like drop biscuits, in the sense that I scooped them up with an ice-cream scoop, plopped them on a baking sheet, and poked holes in them with my finger. You could definitely treat these like traditional doughnuts if you wanted to, by nicely shaping them into little discs and baking or deep-frying them. But, simply put, I just didn’t feel like it. These are, by far, one of the absolute best recipes I’ve ever created. I’m not kidding, you’ve got to try these.

apple cake donuts

But, be warned, they are very addicting. And your waistline may not be happy with me for sharing this recipe with you (I know mine is angry). Perhaps make them when you have at least a few other people to share them with!

Glazed Apple Cake Donuts

Apple Cake Donuts
vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, yeast-free
Yield: 10 large donuts

1 cup sweet sorghum flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup vegan, soy-free butter {such as earth balance} (or coconut oil), melted
1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed with 2 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk yogurt {such as so delicious} or other vegan yogurt
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons alcohol-free, pure vanilla extract
1 cup peeled, diced apples

For the Glaze (optional):
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoons vegan, soy-free butter (softened)
1 tablespoon warm water
1 tablespoons coconut or almond milk
1/2 teaspoon alcohol-free, pure vanilla extract
a dash of ground cinnamon powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. First sift together your dry ingredients, in a large bowl, until they are properly blended: sorghum flour, almond flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon. Then, in a separate bowl, use a strong wire whisk to combine the brown sugar and vegan (soy-free) butter. Add the prepared flax seed/water mixture, coconut milk yogurt, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk until creamy and smooth. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, slowly combine the wet to the dry in two batches. Fold the dry into the wet until the mixture starts to come together, then add the diced apples. Continue folding in the apples until the mixture is combined into a smooth dough. It’s important to work gently, as you don’t want to over-mix the batter.

Using an ice cream scoop (one of my favorite baking tools), or an oiled 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop the batter and place on the baking sheet, leave about 2-3 inches of space between the donuts. With a clean finger, poke a hole into the center of each donut, and wiggle your finger around to create a bigger hole. If you’d like, use a doughnut cutter, or a doughnut pan to make more uniform, less rustic-like donuts. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until tops are just barely golden, and the bottoms are golden (or a toothpick inserted comes out clean).

While the donuts are baking, prepare the glaze (if using). The glaze adds a more traditional donut feel and taste. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and vegan (soy-free) butter (I used a fork). Then add the water and almond milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Store in the fridge until the donuts are ready. Once the donuts come out of the oven, let cool on the baking sheets for about 15 minutes or more before glazing.

VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE APPLE CAKE DONUTS

I know I’ve said this before but these go great with coffee!

Apple Cake Donuts

Please make these, and let me know what you think! No one will ever guess they are vegan, gluten-free and soy-free. I guess the sugary goodness and cakey texture cover that right up!

Apple Cake Donuts