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.

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread with Walnuts & Raisins

One of my mom’s best friends shared her recipe for this special pumpkin bread with me. I first tried it last year over the holidays and absolutely loved it. She recommended using olive oil and whole wheat flour. I used olive oil and half whole wheat pastry flour this time. 🙂 It was incredibly moist and delicious.

I made one loaf in a standard loaf pan and the other in my new Nordic Ware fluted loaf pan to make it that much more special. I froze the special loaf to serve over Thanksgiving weekend. I love recipes that make one batch to enjoy right away and another for later- or to share.

Yield: 2 standard loaves

  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 15 to 16 oz can pumpkin purée (about 2 cups)
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pans. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  3. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl with a spout.
  4. Blend in the oil and water.
  5. Add and whisk in the pumpkin purée.
  6. In a separate large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.
  7. Add the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; whisk to combine.
  8. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the pumpkin-egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
  9. Fold in the nuts and raisins.
  10. Using a ladle, disperse the batter between the two loaf pans.
  11. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the bread tests clean in the center. (I baked mine for 62 minutes on convection.)
  12. Cool on a rack in the pans; remove when cool.

Zucchini Bread

As if my CSA zucchini wasn’t enough, my friend brought me more beautiful zucchini from her garden. I made four loaves of this bread (two batches) with a single zucchini! Amazing.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen. I incorporated whole wheat flour. As suggested, I used less sugar and also omitted the add-ins. We ate some, shared some, and froze some for later. This loaf improves with time- perfect to make the night before serving it for breakfast. I imagine it would also be delicious lightly toasted and topped with butter.

Yield: 2 loaves or 24 muffins

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil (can also used olive oil or another vegetable oil)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (can also used half (or even all) turbinado or half light brown sugar)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cups grated, packed zucchini, not wrung out (from about 10 oz zucchini)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
  • 1 to 2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or chocolate chips (or a combination), optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously grease 2 loaf pans (8×4 or 9×5) with butter and flour or with nonstick spray. Alternatively, grease 24 standard muffin cups or line with paper liners.
  3. Whisk eggs, oil, butter, sugar, and vanilla in the bottom of a large bowl.
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt over the wet ingredients and whisk them in well.
  5. Stir in zucchini.
  6. Gently stir in flours, mixing only until incorporated.
  7. Fold in any add-ins, if using.
  8. Divide between prepared pans and bake for 55 to 65 minutes for a loaf, 20 to 25 minutes for muffins, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes on a rack before inverting and removing from the pans. The loaves can also cool completely in pans.
  10. Store wrapped in foil at room temperature for up to 5 days. Loaves also freeze well.

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.

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Irish Soda Bread is a must-have celebratory breakfast in our house. This version was delicious slathered with butter.

The recipe was adapted from Food 52, contributed by Pegeen. I incorporated whole wheat flour and golden raisins. I baked the bread in a 10-inch ceramic baking dish. It was very tender- perfect with a cup of coffee. 🙂

Yield: One 10 or 11-inch round loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, cold (you may need a little less or more)
  • large eggs, cold
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • teaspoon coarse salt
  • tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, COLD, cut into smaller chunks, plus more for greasing the baking dish
  • cup dark seedless raisins
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Meyer Lemon Breakfast Cake

I made this super moist and tender breakfast cake with my precious Meyer lemons. It could be made with regular lemons too, of course. I did think that the tangy glaze was a little over the top, so I modified the recipe to make half of the amount next time.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, via The View from the Great Island.com. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour in addition to cake flour and baked the bread on convection in a Pullman loaf pan. Special and tasty. 🙂

For the Cake:

  • zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup cake flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
For the Glaze:
  • 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice to thin, start with 1 tablespoon and add more as necessary
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly butter (or spray with cooking oil spray) a Pullman loaf pan or 9×5 loaf pan and line it with parchment paper with long ends so you can lift the bread out later for glazing and slicing. Crease the ends so that they do not fold over onto the cake while it is baking.
  3. Remove the peel from the lemon with a vegetable peeler. A serrated peeler works best for this. You want to remove just the yellow part of the peel, with little of the bitter white part.
  4. Put the sugar and lemon peelings in a food processor and process until the peels are completely incorporated into the sugar.
  5. Put the lemon sugar and butter into a stand mixer and cream until light and fluffy ~ a full 5 minutes.
  6. Beat in each of the eggs, one by one, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Continue beating for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt and add to the mixer, alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Finish mixing by hand, to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed, but don’t over beat.
  8. Turn the batter into the prepared pan, spread out evenly, and bake on the center rack for about 40 minutes in a Pullman pan, or up to 50-55 minutes in a standard loaf pan, or until fully risen and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it (moist crumbs are fine).
  9. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove, using the parchment paper handles, and let fully cool on a rack.
  10. Meanwhile whisk together the sugar with enough lemon juice to make a thick glaze. Spread the glaze over the cooled bread.

Pumpkin-Orange Bread

I have to make some sort of pumpkin bread in the fall. This orange variation sounded lovely and resulted in a moist and tender loaf. My family didn’t appreciate the pepita garnish on the top of the loaf, but I thought that it added a nice crunch and contrasting texture. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I incorporated whole wheat flour and baked the loaf in my favorite Pullman loaf pan. Nice.

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (from a 15-ounce can)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • grated orange zest from 1 large orange (about 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 1/2 large orange)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan or Pullman loaf pan with butter and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, and nutmeg, 30 seconds.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together butter, pumpkin, eggs, orange zest and juice, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Make a well in flour mixture and pour pumpkin mixture into it.
  5. Stir together just until combined and no dry flour remains (do not overmix).
  6. Transfer to prepared pan and sprinkle top evenly with pepitas, pressing lightly to adhere.
  7. Bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour, 10 minutes for a standard loaf or about 35 minutes for a Pullman loaf.
  8. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer loaf to a wire rack and let cool completely. Bread can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped in parchment-lined foil, up to 3 days.
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