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.

Apple Cider Doughnut Muffins

These muffins were incredibly moist, tender, and delicious. Perfect for a special autumn breakfast. 🙂 I divided the batter between standard muffin and mini-muffin pans. Mini-muffins are such a perfect after school or lunch box snack.

The recipe was adapted from The View from Great Island.com. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour and halved the amount of cinnamon-sugar topping. Amazing!

Yield: 20 standard muffins or 15 standard muffins plus 24 mini-muffins

Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats (or 1 cup oat flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 3/4 cup applesauce or apple butter
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (corn, canola, safflower)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Topping:
  • 3 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly butter muffins pans or coat with cooking oil spray. (I used standard and mini-muffin pans.)
  3. Place the rolled oats in the bowl of a food processor and process until the oats resemble flour. (Alternatively, use oat flour.)
  4. Whisk the dry ingredients together to combine.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until just combined, being careful not to over mix.
  7. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and bake for about 19 minutes for standard muffins or about 10 minutes for mini-muffins.
  8. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar and cinnamon together for the topping.
  9. Let the muffins cool for about 5 to 10 minutes, then remove from the pan.
  10. Brush the muffin tops with melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat really well. If necessary, coat twice to get a good coverage.

Note: Muffins keep at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 3 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.

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

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