Posting my definition of the perfect banana bread recipe has been on my mental and blogger to-do list since about 2009 when I posted my last banana bread recipe and with this recipe, I can finally check that task off my to-do list.
In an ironic twist of timing, Monday August 27 is National Banana Lovers Day .
Guess this recipe was worth the wait because it happens to be the best banana bread I’ve ever made or eaten and after I made it, I began experimenting with other banana bread versions and recipes and have come up with at least three more that I will be posting over next month, one per week, in something I’m calling Banana Bread Fest.
If you’re interested in why I am calling this bread the best ever, feel free to read on; it’s a pretty wordy post. If just want to stare at the pictures and cut to the recipe, I understand. It’s a peeve of mine when someone says ohmygodthisissogood itwillchangeyourlife and very little explanation about why they feel that way is given. I offered plenty of explanation. What’s brevity?
This banana bread is different than many of the banana bread recipes I see on blogs and Pinterest lately. It’s not loaded up with chocolate chips, white chocolate, there’s no coconut flakes or berries added to the batter. There’s a notable absence of diced peanut butter cups, miniature candies, peanut butter, almond butter, cookie butter spread, Biscoff spread, Nutella or anything else that I see in so many of the recipes floating around.
Those breads and recipes all look wonderful and they all have their time and place, but adding candy to banana bread is not something my grandma did and hers in the banana bread I wanted to most emulate.
I can be the add-candy-and-a- white-chocolate-drizzle queen, but let’s face it, when you have a pile of ripe bananas on your counter and you want to whip up a loaf of bread, sometimes you just need a really good recipe that’s rooted in practicality, not in candy or a fancy nut butter spread.
I incorporated vanilla into the bread in four ways because I’m a vanilla freak. Yes, four. I should have probably called it Vanilla Banana Bread. You can tone it down in places if you wish but I’m not sure why you’d want to.
First, I added one box of vanilla Jell-O instant pudding mix to the batter. I know some people bristle at the thought of a boxed mix of anything and you don’t have to use it, but in this application, one little three-ounce packet of vanilla pudding adds a deeper and richer vanilla flavor and it keeps this bread so incredibly soft, tender, and moist because no one hates dry bread more than me.
My oven runs hot, fast, and furious here in Aruba so the top is just a smidge darker than I wished, but the bread still goes down as the best and moistest that’s ever passed my lips.
Next, I added six ounces of vanilla yogurt to the batter, helping to boost the vanilla flavor, moisture, and tenderness. The thicker the yogurt, the better. Sour cream may be substituted or use plain yogurt or if you have a fun yogurt flavor like mango or coconut cream, I’m sure they’d be lovely as well.
Just don’t use light, diet, or fat-free yogurt. Use full-fat, thicker, or Greek-style yogurt. The point is not to shave calories; the point is to create wonderful, moist, fall-apart-soft bread. Save the thin watery yogurt for something else.
Thirdly, the batter is doused with a tablespoon of vanilla extract. I’d bathe in twenty million tablespoons of vanilla extract if I could.
Finally, I glazed this baby with a vanilla-browned butter glaze, which is to-die-for crazy good and I think should be a mandatory glaze on everything from Baked Vanilla Donuts to Puffy Vanilla and Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Although the photos show the glaze applied as a pretty and delicate thin little drizzle, that’s not reality.
Reality is dipping my knife into the jar of glaze and spreading it in a nice thick layer over the entire surface of the bread, like buttering a piece of toast in browned butter frosting. Try it. You’ll love it.
If you’ve never browned butter before, the visual guide below may help guide you in creating the rich, nutty-aroma, and amber-hued butter that’s so scrumptious. Watch the butter closely and stop cooking when the butter is browned, not burned, taking into account carryover-cooking times. Remember to transfer the hot butter into a cool container immediately after removing it from the heat source so that it doesn’t continue to cook and possibly burn.
Browned butter is divine and will make you wonder why you haven’t been browning butter all your life for everything you’ve ever used butter for. Burnt butter is putrid and will make you want to evacuate your kitchen because it’s stinky and vile.
According to Christina Tosi , you can brown butter in the microwave. I tried it here in Aruba rather than browning it on the stovetop and you know what, she’s right. The details are in the recipe section.
It’s been 3-plus years since my last banana bread recipe (vegan, GF) which is truly wonderful, but includes a hefty dose of peanut butter in the batter and peanut butter makes anything more moist and more wonderful. This new banana bread recipe holds it’s own on every level, no peanut butter required.
Another reason I love this new recipe is because no mixer is required. Some recipes call for creaming butter and sugar, creaming in the eggs, beating in the bananas for two minutes and so forth. This recipe instead uses melted butter (and I much prefer melted butter to using oil for the added layer of flavor), and the batter is whisked together in one bowl, which is how my grandma made her banana bread.
A browned exterior and chewy crust with an incredibly moist and soft interior. It rose beautifully and there’s a balance of lightness and tenderness to the crumb but also some density. It’s loaded up with vanilla, and no mixer is required, which is why this is my new favorite banana bread. Scott said that hands down, it’s also the best banana bread he’s ever eaten and he’s not a banana bread guy. He’s a salty ‘n sweet Cinnamon Sugar Chocolate Pretzels guy.
I can’t wait to make another loaf when I’m back in San Diego with my regular oven. Or make the recipe as muffins, as mini loaves, as a 9-inch banana cake, or maybe add some pumpkin to the batter. My wheels were turning and I’ve since made three more banana bread versions and I’m no where near done. Stay tuned for the recipes in the upcoming weeks of Banana Bread Fest.
Banana Bread with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze
Makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf (or can be made as two 8-by-4-inch loaves or three mini loaves, adjusting baking times as necessary)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (half of one stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 ounces vanilla yogurt (one standard-sized small container; Greek-style preferred, or sour cream may be substituted – do not use fat free or light yogurt or sour cream)
2 large or 3 small very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups mashed)
one 3.4-ounce box vanilla instant pudding mix (not Cook ‘n Serve), optional see notes below
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
Preheat oven to 350F, spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray with flour (I use Pam for Baking) or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute. To the melted butter, add the sugars, eggs, vanilla, yogurt, and stir or whisk to combine. Add the bananas and stir to incorporate. Add the dry pudding mix and stir to combine (Note: You are not making pudding; simply add the mix as a dry ingredient. You don’t have to use pudding mix but it creates wonderful moisture and flavor in the bread. If omitting, you may wish to add an additional 1/4 cup granulated sugar and an additional 1/4 to 1/3 cup flour, based on taste preference and how your batter looks).
Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix or bread will be tougher as the gluten will over-develop. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 to 58 minutes, or until top is golden and set, and a wooden skewer, cake tester, or knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If bread is browning too fast on the top, you may wish to lower your oven temperature to 325F midway through cooking, at about the 30-minute mark if your oven runs hot or tent the pan with foil in approximately the last 20 minutes of cooking. Allow bread to cool in the loaf pan for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.
Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze
1/4 cup butter (half of one stick)
1 cup+ confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoons+ cream or milk, optional and to taste
You can brown the butter in a small saucepan on the stovetop, heating over medium heat. Swirl the pan or stir frequently for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the sputtering, crackling, and foaming has subsided, the butter has browned, and has a nutty aroma. Watch it closely so that it doesn’t go from browned and nutty to burnt and inedible.
Or, brown the butter in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl by heating it on high power, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the sputtering, crackling, and foaming has subsided, the butter has browned, and has a nutty aroma. The same rules apply in the microwave as on the stovetop; watch it closely and start checking it every 15-to-30 seconds starting at about the 5-minute mark, so that it doesn’t go from browned and nutty to burnt and inedible.
Transfer hot butter to medium-sized mixing bowl and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and whisk to combine. Based on desired glaze consistency and taste preference, add the cream one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached, playing with sugar and cream ratios as necessary. (I only use butter, sugar, vanilla in this glaze, no cream). Drizzle glaze over the top of the bread before slicing and serving; or slice, serve, and glaze each piece individually. I prefer to use the glaze like butter and spread it liberally on the interior surface of a slice.
Store unglazed bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or store glazed bread in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Unglazed bread can be frozen for up to 3 months.