Go Bananas for Banana Bread!
The great thing about bananas is that right off the tree, they’re a lot like the best kinds of quick bread: moist, substantial, sweet. They’ve been around forever (they were cultivated by cavemen in southeast Asia) and come in an endless variety (there are even pink ones — who is going to bring me the pink banana? Who??). But it took until the 1930s for people to get the idea that bananas belong in bread. It was a perfect storm of widespread refrigeration, the availability of the wonder-twin leavening powers of baking soda and baking powder, and a sudden Great Depression–fueled desire to use every scrap of food, even formerly yellow fruit that had gone sadly brown and mushy.
Of course, my grandpa Mike wouldn’t go near a banana till it was brown enough to pass for a massive Tootsie Roll. He said that’s when they were finally sweet enough, and he’d freeze them to eat like ice cream. My grandpa Mike was, I agree, a weirdo. But I have a freezer full of brown bananas, too, because I’m also a weirdo — a weirdo for banana bread in all its delicious, beautiful varieties, and a sucker for the brown-banana giveaway bin at my local grocery store.
Rich, flavorful banana bread is a perfect receptacle for any kind of nut, all sorts of sweet pumpkin-pie-type spices, and — of course — chocolate chips. As this list of banana bread recipes suggests, though, there are even more creative delivery systems for banana bread. For instance, I just love the idea of combining pumpkin puree and bananas for the moistest bread ever. Then again, I’m also a bit partial to the healthier muffin option, where the presence of mashed banana means you can use less oil with no ill effects. Whatever way you go, what better base could there be for a boozy, rich bread pudding? (I won’t blame you if you scroll right down to that one. I did.)
Unsure how to begin? Here’s a step-by-step introduction on how to make banana bread.
Two great things about this recipe: a creative topping/stuffing, and a non-dairy “soy buttermilk” addition that’s useful for many recipes.
Bananas are rich and full-bodied enough to stand up to whole wheat flour. Just watch ‘em.
Alternate spoonfuls of chocolate-enhanced and regular batter create a treat for the eyes as well as the tummy.
Here’s a variety that does use yeast — and is great for little hands that love to help.
Got too much bread? Or just love a bread pudding on steroids? This is the ultimate expression of bread, sauce and orange liqueur.
Can’t get enough banana bread? Explore all our banana bread recipes!