Banana Bread with Crunchy Sugar Topping

I have one more recipe to share from the special baking book, Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever. (for now!) In the book, this recipe is titled “The Only Banana Bread You’ll Ever Need.” That is a little over the top for me- I always welcome new recipes for banana bread. 🙂

In this version, the super moist bread is topped with crunchy, snowy granulated sugar. The sugar is dampened and clumped together before sprinkling it over the prepared batter. I had never used this technique and I loved it. The topping looked beautiful and had a wonderful contrasting texture.

I weighed the bananas and all of the dry ingredients. I modified the recipe by baking it in a Pullman loaf pan, adjusting the baking time accordingly. We loved it!

Yield: One loaf, Serves 8 to 10

  • nonstick cooking spray for the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups (400g) mashed, very ripe bananas (I used 3 1/2 bananas)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 T (196g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (112g) vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup (75g) well-shaken buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T dark rum, optional (I omitted it)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plus 2 T (272g) unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 T (38g) granulated sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Spray a 9×5-inch or Pullman loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper with a couple of inches of overhang on the long sides. Lightly coat the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, eggs, rum (if using), and vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and fold until just blended.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Place the granulated sugar in a small bowl.
  8. Using your fingertips, sprinkle water over the top of the sugar. Work the water into the sugar, pinching it together, until it begins to resemble snow. (It should barely hold together when it is pinched together.) To add additional water, sprinkle water over the top using the opposite (clean) hand.
  9. Sprinkle the dampened sugar over the batter, aiming to get it clumped up together in spots.
  10. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes in a Pullman pan or 60 to 70 minutes in a standard loaf pan.
  11. Let cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then use the parchment paper to lift the loaf out of the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Note: Bread can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap and/or placed in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

Spiced Zucchini-Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

To say that this wonderful summer cake was moist would be the understatement. 😉 What a fabulous use for zucchini! Everyone has an extra zucchini and ultra-ripe bananas this time of year too.

This recipe was adapted from Nancy-c.com. I incorporated light brown sugar and whole wheat pastry flour and decreased the nutmeg. I also added salt and vanilla to the frosting. This cake was even better the next day. Fabulous.

Yield: one 9×13 cake, about 12 to 16 servings

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large or extra-large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium)
  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium)
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan, line with parchment paper, grease again. (I used cooking oil spray.) Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  4. Add in egg and vanilla, then stir in mashed bananas and blend everything well.
  5. In medium bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.
  6. Add flour mixture to butter-sugar-banana mixture. Blend until combined.
  7. Fold in zucchini and mix until incorporated.
  8. Pour batter into prepared 9 x 13″ pan and bake at 350˚F for 25 minutes, or until edges brown and pull from sides.
  9. Let bars cool completely, then frost with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • pinch coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or medium bowl, blend softened cream cheese and softened butter.
  2. Mix in salt and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Add in powdered sugar a cup at a time, blending well after each addition, scraping down the sides, as needed.
  4. Spread evenly over completely cooled bars, then cut and serve.

Note: If serving later, keep in refrigerator until ready to serve. Refrigerate any leftover cake.

Streusel Banana Bread

As my son said after gobbling up his first piece, “This is GOOD banana bread!” 🙂 Really good. It’s probably because it’s actually more of a banana coffee cake. The streusel was amazing.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I incorporated whole wheat flour. It made a very special breakfast but would also be a wonderful snack or dessert.

For the Streusel:

  • 6 T unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup banana purée from 2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  1. Place an oven rack in the lower third. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan or Pullman loaf pan with butter or cooking oil spray; line with parchment, leaving a 1-inch overhang on long sides.
  3. Make the Streusel: In a bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the butter and pecans until small clumps form and mixture is evenly moistened. (I used a pastry blender.) Set aside.
  4. Make the Cake Batter: In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together butter, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk; stir in mashed bananas.
  6. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour banana mixture in. Stir together until just combined making sure not to overmix.
  7. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Sprinkle half of the streusel evenly over the batter.
  9. Add the remaining batter, then sprinkle remaining streusel over the top.
  10. Bake until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes in a standard loaf pan (tenting with foil after 1 hour if browning too quickly), or 1 hour in a Pullman loaf pan.
  11. Let cool in pan 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely before serving.

Buckwheat, Banana, & Zucchini Muffins

I have been receiving TONS of zucchini in my CSA share. These super moist, earthy, and healthy muffins were one of the best ways I used my zucchini so far. They were very hearty and flavorful- accompanied with fresh fruit they were a tasty and filling breakfast. Perfect for a snack as well!

This recipe was adapted from Bubby’s Brunch Cookbook: Recipes and Menus from New York’s Favorite Comfort Food Restaurant by Ron Silver with Rosemary Black.

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup mashed very ripe banana
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 T honey
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
  1. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees on convection.
  2. Line a standard muffin pan with paper baking cups or grease the baking cups lightly with cooking oil spray or butter.
  3. Combine the flours, banana, zucchini, raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Combine the buttermilk, honey, vegetable oil, and egg in a mixing bowl and whisk vigorously.
  5. Form a deep “well” in the center of the flour mixture with a large wooden spoon. Pour the buttermilk mixture and the nuts (if using) into the well.
  6. Immediately stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well blended.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them two-thirds full. Bake the muffins for 17 to 18 minutes, or until the tops spring back when pressed lightly or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

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Skinny Whole Wheat Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Thanksgiving is so indulgent, I wanted to have a lighter treat to offer for breakfast. These moist muffins have NO oil or butter and are whole wheat. Nice!

This recipe was adapted from Friday Cake Night. I substituted whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour, substituted a spice blend for pumpkin pie spice, and added mini chocolate chips. I also made mini muffins instead of a loaf. They were a bit sticky and worked better with cooking spray on the pan instead of paper muffin cup liners.

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees on convection. Lightly coat a mini muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mashed banana, brown sugar, apple sauce, pumpkin, and eggs until smooth.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients (except chocolate chips) to the bowl with the banana and pumpkin mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan (I used a cookie scoop) and bake for 12 minutes.

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