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Banana Bread, or Banana Nut Bread actually, is the one of the first few cakes I learned how to bake, way back in 2009. It was a simpler time when I had only a couple of baking pans, one tacky whisk, and I didn’t know the difference between cake flour and all purpose flour. And boy did I end up learning the difference! I followed some recipe from the Food Network Test Kitchen and over a period of several months and years, iterated over it to come up with my own variations. Almost always one-bowl, minimal prep work, no fancy ingredients, infinitely adaptable, forgiving, freezer-friendly, reheats like a dream…are just a few ways to describe a good loaf of Banana Nut Bread, and this recipe always hit the mark.
With requests from friends, I started making them eggless (swap each egg with one medium sized banana), with different nuts (pecans are wonderful too), with seeds, with or without chocolate (chips, chunks and cocoa powder versions), in pretty bundt pans instead of loaf, with or without chocolate ganache on top, and so on. The combinations are endless.
But the banana nut breads I was making were an indulgence. I mean they were worlds apart from the high-calorie, compressed sawdust you get in Starbucks but they weren’t something I could have all the time, because of all the sugar and butter and of course the banana itself is pretty high calorie and a sugar bomb when ultra ripe. So I fiddled with the recipe a bit to make it less indulgent, and it completely sucked. Much like the direction this blog post is taking.
Fortunately, as in most situations, I turned to the Smitten Kitchen for advice, and fortunately, as in most situations, I was covered! Facing the same trials and tribulations (the horrors of going without Good Banana Bread for a whole month!) as I did, she came up with her wholesome yet delicious Banana Bread and because she is a far better baker (and likely, far better person) than I am, hers was absolutely divine! I played with the proportions a bit and used ingredients I had on hand, and it turned out really perfect. Not so sweet, moist, one-bowl, reheats like a dream, forgiving, freezer-friendly…we were back on track (with arteries that may work a few years longer).
I made it as two 9*5 loaves but the same recipe can also be made in a large bundt pan. I’ll make it that way soon enough, seeing as how this one has just disappeared.
To make the cake completely dairy-free and lactose-free, I greased the pans with coconut oil instead of unsalted butter, and it worked out just fine. That’s because we are using coconut butter in the recipe itself, so the coconut-iness isn’t a problem but a blessing.
In a large mixing bowl, we start with mashing the ripe, almost-dying bananas.
Quick Tip: When the bananas on the counter start to look a bit questionable, I peel them and plop them in a zip top bag in the freezer that I have dedicated to Bananas. When the count of over-ripe, frozen bananas reaches 6 or 7, it’s time for Banana Bread!
They don’t look great but taste absolutely delightful when baked!
One by one, we add the eggs:
I tried to use Treacle here – a dense, syrupy Sri Lankan Coconut or Palm Honey that pairs wonderfully with bananas and coconuts) – and it was excellent! You can use Maple Syrup or Honey or even Agave Nectar. Remember: Banana Bread is to be made with what you have on hand, and shouldn’t require chasing and tracking down overly nitpick-y ingredients!
I sifted the dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, spices) and added them to the mixture:
And finally, the almonds:
Then, we pour the mixture into the prepared cake pans. When dividing the batter among pans, I like to weigh the pans after filling them, to make sure they have almost the same amount of batter. This way we can guarantee that the loaves will bake evenly and look as well as taste the same.
Into a 350 degrees F preheated oven they go, and after 40-45 minutes, they come out looking all bronzed and smelling like a banana-coconut filled heaven!
Slice ’em up and enjoy with your afternoon coffee, or have them all week for breakfast. Psst: you can also drizzle some melted chocolate over them for dessert, we won’t tell anyone.
• Recipe •
Wholesome Banana Bread
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Crackly Banana Bread
Makes 2 9*5 loaves, or 1 large bundt
6-8 large Bananas, riper the better
2 large Eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons Virgin Coconut Oil, liquid (warm it till it liquifies then cool it a bit)
1/2 cup packed light Brown Sugar, fluffed so that it mixes better
1/4 + 1/8 cup Treacle (coconut or palm honey) or Maple Syrup
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Table Salt
2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground Cloves
3 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cup sliced Almonds
Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease the pan(s) with 2 teaspoons coconut oil. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mash bananas using a fork or a masher until fairly smooth. Add the eggs, oil, sugar, treacle (or maple syrup) and vanilla extract, whisking well with the addition of each ingredient.
On a piece of wax paper or parchment paper, sift the flour and all the dry ingredients (baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) together. Sprinkle it over the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not over mix as the bread will become tougher. Stir in the almonds.
Divide the mixture into prepared pan(s) and bake until a tester comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Keep a close eye after the 40 minute mark. Cool bread completely in the pan(s) on a cooling rack. Serve sliced with salted butter, or a dusting of powdered sugar. Bread tastes divine when warmed, alongside a cup of coffee or tea. Makes for a perfect breakfast-on-the-go.
Leave it on the counter (in an airtight container) if planning to consume within 4-5 days. I like to cut the bread into thick slices, wrap the slices individually in wax/parchment paper and freeze them individually so they can defrosted one slice at a time as needed for maximum flavor.
This recipe can be made vegan by replacing the (2) eggs with 2 additional ripe bananas, but I haven’t tested it yet. I’ve done it countless times with the original recipe I followed for years though and it works perfectly. If you do, let me know!