When that sweet tooth kicks in, there’s nothing better than a homemade dessert to satisfy your cravings. Banana bread is just as delicious when paired with butter for breakfast as it is with peanut butter for an afternoon snack. Get to baking!
A loaf of great banana bread can be done a million different ways and it can easily accommodate all possible allergies and dietary restrictions (unless you’re allergic to banana—then you’re out of luck!). Still, there are a couple of things that certainly cannot be omitted:
- Really ripe bananas: The riper the better! Not only will they be easier to work with, but they’ll also be sweeter, allowing you to skimp on the sweetener amount.
- Flour: You have to use some kind of flour to make your banana bread, but what type you choose is totally up to you. If you want to make it gluten-free, ditch the wheat flour and substitute it with oat, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, rice, or a combination of a few. You can also make it paleo and really low carb by using almond flour, hazelnut flour, cassava flour, or even coconut flour.
- Baking powder and baking soda: You will need them for the bread to rise and get fluffy.
- Eggs or egg substitutes: Eggs are absolutely necessary for binding all the ingredients together, but if you’re vegan or want to make your dish egg-free, you can always substitute with “flax” or “chia” egg.
- Oil or butter: To add that much-needed fat, you can use regular butter, just make sure it’s unsalted. Or, use oil like coconut or avocado.
- Milk: Use regular or plant-based for a touch of moisture.
To make a “flax” egg, all you have to do is mix 1 Tbsp of flaxseed meal (ground raw flaxseed) with 2.5 Tbsp of water, then let it sit for 5 minutes until it thickens. Use the mixture as a substitute for 1 egg. If the recipe calls for more, simply use this as a reference and multiply by the number of eggs needed.
Flaxseed ads fiber and a bit of texture, so it goes really well with all kinds of bread, muffins, pancakes, cookies, and brownies.
To make a “chia” egg, mix 1 Tbsp of chia seeds with 3 Tbsp of water, then let it sit for about 5-10 minutes until it gels up and the chia seeds expand in volume. This is the perfect substitute for one egg, so once again, if the recipe calls for more, multiply accordingly.
Chia seeds add healthy omega fats to your dish, but they also add a ton of texture. It’s why some love them and some don’t, especially if the recipe calls for more than three eggs. Try for yourself to figure out which one works for you.
There’s also something called the “vegan egg” you can find in stores, and it’s made from soymilk powder, but due to all the other ingredients like nutritional yeast, black salt, and herbs, it’s better in savory dishes than desserts.
Your banana bread needs to scream banana flavor from the moment you take it out from the oven to the moment you finish its last crumb. That’s why using two large or three medium super-ripe bananas is a must. Here’s the full list:
- 2 large or 3 medium overripe bananas
- 1 egg (or egg substitute)
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil or avocado oil (or 1/2 cup unsalted butter)
- 3/4 cup milk (or plant-based milk)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or cane sugar (or any other sweetener of choice)— you can also omit if you prefer it less sweet
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon (or any other spice you want to add—think nutmeg, cloves, or cardamom)
- 2 1/2 cups flour (it can be any flour or flour combination you want)
- 2 tsp baking powder (use 3 if using gluten-free or paleo flour)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a loaf pan (9 x 5 inches) with parchment paper to prevent the bread from sticking.
In a bowl, mash your bananas well and add all the wet ingredients (egg, oil, milk, sweetener, vanilla extract). Stir through, then add the salt, cinnamon, and other spices. Stir in the baking powder and baking soda, then add in the flour, mixing it all thoroughly. Last, add the oats and fold them in with a spatula.
Transfer to your prepared loaf and bake for 60-75 minutes, or until crackly and golden brown on top. Do the toothpick test, and if it comes out dry, leave to cool completely before taking it out of the pan and slicing it up.
The Extra Stuff
Now, that’s a perfect banana bread loaf. You can slice it up and eat it as is, slather some peanut butter or jam on top, toast it and spread with butter, or even go a bit fancier and use it to make french toast.
Still, this is just a blank canvas, and you can add your touch in whichever way you wish. Add some roughly chopped up nuts on the top, drizzle them with honey, and let them caramelize; give it a chocolate flavor by adding cacao powder or sliced-up chocolate and let it melt inside, turning all gooey and rich; sprinkle some cranberries or sultanas in the mix and add a bit of texture and fruity flavor; and experiment with nut flours and coffee, which can give your banana bread a really special kick in the end.
Banana bread is fairly easy to make and really fun to play with. Try the basic recipe first and once you get a hang of it, the possibilities of variations are endless! Bon Appetit!