Best Banana Bread(s)

We’re moving in three weeks. The impending move has inspired a lot of list creation. We have a New York bucket list of things to do and a list of places to eat. I have a list of New York archives to visit. Most recently, I’ve realized that I have a freezer full of things that can’t be easily moved and so I also have a list of things to cook.

First on the list was doing something with the 15 frozen bananas that had accumulated in the freezer. Obviously, this called for a banana bread bake-off.

This Sunday I invited a group of friends over for brunch and promised them a variety of banana breads to taste if they brought some healthier fare. Friday and Saturday, I braved the heat and baked three banana breads (plus a fourth gluten-free banana bread that didn’t compete). Sunday morning we labeled them and voted.

The winner was, not unexpectedly, this (even though it fell and has a huge dent in the middle):

One of my best friends came up with this recipe in college when he added raspberries to a basic banana bread and changed all of our lives forever. I can still remember eating the first loaf on the porch of our house in New Haven. While bananas and raspberries may seem like a combination better suited for a smoothie than a baked good, trust me, they combine into a bread that is unbelievably dense and moist.

That said, this was a close runner-up:

This is the banana bread with ginger and chocolate from A Homemade Life. It got a number of votes for best banana bread on Sunday, but not quite enough. While this is good in loaf form, as we had it on Sunday, I actually think this banana bread shines best as a birthday cake. It’s light enough to be served with whipped cream frosting. I made it for both my mother’s birthday party and my birthday party this year. Divide the batter into two round cake pans and layer them with whipped cream.

The banana bread below, which I had high hopes for, totally flopped. I made it with brown sugar and roasted bananas. I hoped it would take on a caramelized flavor as a result, but it was too bland and overpowered by the chocolate.

Finally, I have to say, that this gluten-free banana bread with almond meal is pretty good. I think it’s best served cold with a big dollop of whipped cream. It’s not like the real thing, but if you’re at a banana bread party and trying to avoid gluten, it will certainly keep you satisfied.

Winning Banana Raspberry Bread (the ingredients may reveal why this won):

– 1 1/2 cups sugar

– 1 1/2 cups flour

– 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

– 2 eggs

– 1/2 cup butter

– 1 teaspoon vanilla

– 3 large, ripe bananas

– 1 cup raspberries

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

* Blend together sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs.

* Stir together dry ingredients.

* Mash bananas.

* Add dry ingredients to wet.

* Stir in mashed bananas.

* Fold in raspberries.

* Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a tester comes out dry. (Honestly, I’ve used every shape of pan known to man to bake this cake over the years. For shallower pans, adjust time down.)

Birthday Cake Banana Bread (from A Homemade Life):  

– 6 tablespoons butter

– 2 cups flour

– 3/4 cup sugar

– 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

– 1/2 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)

– 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

– 1/3 cup finely chopped crystalized ginger

– 2 large eggs

– 3 large bananas, mashed

– 1/4 cup plain yogurt (she calls for whole milk, I use what I have around, which is generally low-fat)

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

* Grease pan(s).

* Microwave butter until just melted. Set aside.

* Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add chocolate and ginger and stir well.

*  In a medium bowl, beat eggs with a fork. Add melted butter, yogurt, mashed banana, and vanilla.

* Add banana mixture to dry ingredients until just combined.

* In loaf pan bake 50 minutes to an hour until tester comes out dry. Alternatively, if you want to make an amazing birthday cake, divide batter into two smallish-round cake pans, bake for less time (about 20-25 minutes). In the mean time, whip some whipped cream. Let cakes cool and then layer with whipped cream.

Gluten Free Banana Bread (from thewannabechef): 

1 1/2 cups almond flour

– 4 eggs

– 1/4 cup oil

– 3/4 cup brown sugar

–  3 medium bananas

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

– 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon

– 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

– 1/2 cup chocolate chips

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

* Mash bananas.

* Mix together all ingredients except chocolate chips.

* Fold in chocolate chips.

* Pour batter into greased loaf pan or other similar sized pan.

* Bake 50 minutes, until tester comes out clean.

I think this is best served cold, preferably with whipped cream. 


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