Every week I find myself flooded with overripe bananas since everyone in the house prefers to eat firm, barely ripe ones. The first sign of a brown spot, and they’re left to languish on the counter, eventually becoming so ripe the only purpose they serve is as incentive to bake some banana bread. I know, this doesn’t seem like a problem. Banana bread has a lot going for it. It’s easy to make because it’s a quick bread — it uses baking powder to rise, not yeast. It’s also the ultimate “waste not, want not” use of ingredients past their prime. But best of all, it can be a breakfast on the go, a tasty snack for school lunch and even play a pinch hitter come dessert time.
The real problem with having too many overripe bananas is I feel guilty making my favorite banana bread recipe twice a week. The recipe is great, but with one stick of butter in it, I decided my weekly banana bread infatuation needed some lightening up. The Brown Butter Bourbon Pecan Banana Bread has been relegated to a once a month treat. What I needed was an “everyday” banana bread recipe, one I could feel better about making, and eating on a regular basis.
A simple swap of canola oil for the butter meant less saturated fat. Whole-wheat pastry flour took the place of all-purpose white flour. Lastly, since I wasn’t browning any butter, the bread needed a boost since it would lose that toffee, caramel-laced taste. Dried, ground spices are perfect for adding flavor without calories, so allspice and cloves found their way into the batter too. Here’s my new take on an old favorite.
Easy Baby-Food Tip: Those same mashed bananas you use to make this bread are a perfect first food for baby, making it the easiest meal you’ll ever “cook” from scratch for your little one.
Everyday Banana Bread
Makes one 8-inch loaf
2 1/2 cups (300 grams) whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) allspice
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda
3/4 cup canola oil
3 large (150 grams) eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (128 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
3 bananas (545 grams), peeled and mashed
1/2 cup (125 ml) buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom only of an 8-inch by 2-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda until combined. Set aside.
In a clean, large bowl, whisk the oil and eggs together until thick and pale yellow, about 1 minute. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract, until well mixed. Stir in the mashed bananas. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and stir until there are no visible traces of flour. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until just combined.
Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 65 to 70 minutes.
Set pan on a wire rack, and cool completely before slicing and serving.
Jennifer Perillo is a recipe developer and food writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her recipes and tips for feeding families homemade meals are a regular feature in Working Mother magazine, where she’s the consulting food editor, as well Relish Magazine, Parenting, Kiwi and her blog, In Jennie’s Kitchen.