Tuesday, February 22, 2011

banana-chocolate chip squares (whole grain baking)

A late afternoon quiet moment: hot, milky tea that steams up my glasses. My fingers are wrapped around the mug. I am sitting on the couch leaning back against the red pillow and my knees are bent to the side, with my toes tucked under. Next to me on the couch are the open pages of my book, the rows of black letters are getting blurry in the fading light. And a little white plate with a chocolate and seed-topped square--one bite out of it.

The squares are made with spelt flour, and they taste robustly nutty. The sunflower seeds are crunchy, the chocolate is smooth, and my toes wiggle with a smile.

Spelt is an ancient grain, and an ancestor of wheat. However it has four times the fiber of wheat and also 40% more protein. For these two reasons, it's low GI, meaning spelt-based baked goods won't spike your blood sugar levels like ones made with ordinary flour. Spelt is lighter in taste than whole wheat flour, and seems to me to taste mildly sweet.
Banana-Chocolate Chip Squares
makes 24 squares
adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

3/4 c (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature or softened
1 c brown sugar
3 very ripe bananas (about 1 c (250 ml) mashed)
1 T lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1 large egg
1 3/4 c (170 g) whole spelt flour
100 g chocolate, chopped (or 1 c chocolate chips)
1 c sunflower seeds (or other nuts)

Cream the butter and brown sugar together.
Add the bananas, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and mix well.
Add the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, egg, and spelt flour and beat until combined.

Pour into a greased 9x13-inch pan.
Allow to rest for 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).

Sprinkle the batter with the chocolate and seeds.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes; the squares will still be moist but not liquid in the centre.
For the best texture, allow to cool and rest overnight before cutting into squares.

I buy spelt flour at CitySuper, a somewhat fancy Hong Kong grocery store, and the brand I use is also available at Waitrose and M&S in the UK. (What will you do with the rest of the bag of spelt flour? Try herbed spelt popovers to go with soup or salad.)


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