This is a low-tech recipe. The batter for the banana bread essentially has two components: a bowl with the prune-banana-egg mixture and a bowl with the flour, baking soda, and seeds. I rub the butter into the flour by hand, like I would for pie crust, then I mix in the prune-banana concoction with a spatula. No stand mixer needed.
This recipe gets some of its richness from prune puree, which is easy to make: just pour hot water over prunes and then puree them in a food processor or blender. I usually make prune puree in large batches (400 grams / 14 ounces of prunes at a time) because a larger batch blends better in a food processor and the prune puree keeps for at least a month in the refrigerator. Yet you can also make half that batch and it will work just fine. As for this bread, you can make the recipe dairy-free by using vegetable or melted coconut oil. To do so, whisk the oil into the banana and prune. You also can be flexible with what seeds you include. While the millet seeds make the recipe in my mind, leaving out the chia seeds and sesame seeds won’t hurt a thing.
Birdseed Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf
- 12 pitted prunes or 1/3 cup prune puree (about 100 grams)
- 2 tablespoons / 20 grams millet seeds
- 1 tablespoon / 7 grams sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon / 4 grams chia seeds (optional)
- 2 ripe bananas (about 160 grams of banana pulp)
- 2/3 cup / 120 grams brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup / 140 grams whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 tablespoon / 5 grams golden flaxseed meal (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2 grams baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon / 3 grams kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon /2 grams sea salt flakes (optional; do not use fine sea salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2 grams ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon / 1 gram ground nutmeg
- Pinch of allspice or cloves
- 1/4 cup / 57 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil an 8 by 4-inch loaf pan.
Put the prunes in a heatproof bowl and pour enough boiling water over them to cover. Let soak at least 15 minutes; drain. Puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. If you hear what sounds like a pebble hitting the blade, stop the machine and check for pits. Sometimes a bag of pitted prunes from bulk bins contains a pit or two.
Meanwhile, spread the millet and sesame out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for until lightly fragrant, 8 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
In a bowl, add the chia seeds and bananas and mash with a potato masher until nearly completely mashed. (A few chunks are fine.) Whisk in the prune purée, followed by the sugar and eggs. Whisk until evenly blended.
In a separate bowl, add the millet, sesame, flour, flaxseed meal, baking soda, salts, and spices and whisk to combine.
Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it forms a coarse meal. It’s okay to have big and little pieces of butter. With a rubber spatula, stir the prune-banana blend into the flour and mix until evenly blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake, rotating after about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
Cool the bread in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto a wire rack and cool completely. This is optional, but if serving the banana bread the next day, toast the slices to give the bread some textural contrast.