My search for the perfect banana bread has lasted years. Over time, dozens of recipes have disappointed me: the too heavy, the over-the-top rich, the cardboard dry, the overly dense, the excessively banana-tasting (yes, there is such a thing), the so-packed-with-grains-it’s-not-even-enjoyable-anymore, the flat-as-a-shoe, the tasteless, and the ho-hum. I have struggled to find the right additions: nuts or chocolate or nothing at all? And then there has been the everlasting issue of timing: some banana breads burned after 45 minutes, while others were not even cooked through after an hour and a half.
But now, my search is over: I have found the one. Unsurprisingly, David Lebovitz guided me to it. This banana bread has a tender and moist texture that makes you want to eat it as is, without any toppings or spreads, but that toasts well, too. It rises to an airy texture and is cooked to perfection in 60 minutes. It includes just a short list of basic ingredients you most likely already have on hand. Over time, I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly to use a third of whole wheat flour, which boosts the nutritional content of the banana bread and adds a slight caramelized sweetness to it. It’s a banana bread that’s versatile enough to be eaten on any occasion, from breakfast to dessert.
Because of this passion for banana bread, for years every time I made it, I tried a new recipe. They weren’t all bad, but I was still waiting for that quintessential recipe—the one banana bread recipe from which I would never want to stray. This is the one. It’s perfect and flavorful every time. It’s so good that I have yet to eat it any other way, but it’s definitely a recipe that would be equally good served as an afternoon coffee cake with tea, or, even better, as an indulgent treat slathered with cream cheese frosting. I eat banana bread for breakfast almost every day. I toast a slice to give it just a little crunch, and then spread with some peanut butter, Nutella, or jam. It’s a quick and easy breakfast that’s nourishing enough to get me to lunch without feeling hungry.
Here are my banana bread-making tips before you get started:
- The bananas you choose to make this bread must be very ripe. The skin should have black speckles on them and be soft to the touch. If your bananas are not ripe enough, let them sit on your countertop for a couple of days. Your bread’s flavor will increase tenfold.
- Keep ripe bananas in the freezer. My secret to regularly making banana bread is to buy big bunches of bananas once in a while and to freeze them when they’re perfectly ripe. Frozen bananas will thaw at room temperature in 20 to 30 minutes, so you can simply take them out first, and by the time you’ve preheated the oven and gathered your ingredients, the bananas will be ready to use.
- Don’t have buttermilk on hand? Make just enough for this recipe in a pinch: add 1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup, then fill with milk up to the 1/2 cup (125 ml) mark. Stir, then let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Use as indicated in the recipe.
- Adding a shot of espresso to the batter deepens the bread’s flavor. It may seem like a strange addition, coffee and bananas make a great couple. As David Lebovitz says, coffee is a tropical fruit, as are bananas, so the combination makes sense. Don’t worry, the resulting banana bread doesn’t taste like coffee at all–and if you want to avoid the tiny caffeine addition, you can use decaf coffee too.
- You can make the banana bread plain, or be creative with your choice of additions. Walnuts, chocolate chips, and cocoa nibs are all deliciously obvious picks, but you can also add seeds, such as sesame, hemp, or sunflower. Pick just one addition, or combine them to your liking, but the important thing is not to add too much to make sure you won’t weigh your bread down. I’m providing different options below, but don’t hesitate to make your own combinations.
Makes one 8.5 x 4.5-inch (21.5 x 11.5-cm) loaf.
This banana bread recipe will teach you how to make a perfectly tender and moist banana bread you'll want to eat for breakfast, snack, and dessert.
20 minPrep Time
60 minCook Time
1 hr, 20 Total Time
Lightly grease a 8.5 x 4.5-inch (21.5 x 11.5-cm) loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and allspice. In a second bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, and espresso. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and, using a spatula, stir to just combine. Stir in the additions of your choice. Top with additional whole nuts, seeds, or chocolate chips, if desired.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake the bread for 60 minutes, until the center lightly springy and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Transfer to a baking rack and cool completely.
Wrap the banana bread in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. You can also freeze the banana bread for up to two months.
Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com
Adapted from David Lebovitz.