This Bread Is Bananas!

May 22, 2015

Meet Ellie Sapat and Her Wild Maine Blueberry Banana Nut Bread

Ellie Sapat from Falmouth, Maine, may just be finishing her junior year of high school, but one quick conversation revealed she already has life pretty well figured out – at least when it comes to baking. Her quick bread recipe – Wild Maine Healthy Blueberry Banana Nut Bread – is the 2015 winner in the Youth Category for the National Festival of Breads. 

But, Ellie is quick to say she would not be so successful if it were not for her family. 

“Our whole family really loves to cook and bake together,” she said. “I have pretty much been in the kitchen as long as I can remember.”

Ellie’s sister bakes a terrific bagel, her dad makes the omelets and she said her mother pretty much does it all. Ellie specializes in cookies and other sweet treats. She said that she often helps her mother cook – organizing ingredients and shutting cabinet doors so her mother does not hit her head – but she is not afraid to take over. 

“Sometimes, I even order her out of the kitchen so I can relax and bake,” she explained. 

Kansas Wheat, National Festival of Breads, Ellie Sapat
For her National Festival of Breads entry, Ellie stuck to a family favorite – banana bread. 

“We make banana bread in the summer when bananas get ripe faster than we can use them. I have a basic recipe, but I like to play around with ingredients,” Ellie wrote in her recipe entry.

But, for this Kansas-based contest, Ellie wanted to incorporate some of her favorite local flavors. 

“I am quite proud of my home state of Maine,” Ellie explained. “So, I thought, how can I incorporate some of that Maine pride into my recipe?”

The answer was to substitute maple syrup for sugar and add blueberries to the banana bread mix.

“Everybody loves banana bread,” she said. “And blueberries and maple syrup are a tried and true Maine flavor combination that works so well everywhere.”

The result is definitely a winner worth trying for yourself. So, snag Ellie’s recipe at the National Festival of Breads in Manhattan, Kansas, on June 13.

Finalist Facts

  • Ellie and her mother love to watch cooking shows, but their favorite is The Great British Bake Off. Ellie said she enjoys the friendly contestants and well-qualified judges – as well as the fake British accents she and her mother use to repeat the judges’ comments. 
  • Ellie is not the first National Festival of Breads winner in her family. Her mother, Jessie Grearson, qualified for the 2009 National Festival of Breads in the Time Saving & Simple category with her Sweet Life Sweet Potato Focaccia
  • Ellie is using her award money to help fund a trip to Dallas, Texas, where she will compete in the National Speech & Debate Tournament. She qualified to perform her original oration, a memorized persuasive speech, about how not allowing high school students to fail is actually detrimental to learning. Good luck Ellie!

By Julia Debes