How to Dress Up a Loaf of Banana Bread

February 23, 2016

If you have a couple of ripe bananas and an egg and some flour, you can make banana bread. You can even do it without a recipe. And any well-baked (by which we mean moist, slightly underdone, and richly banana-sweet) loaf will win the hearts and minds of anyone within a whiff's distance.

But sometimes you find yourself wanting more. "More" meaning coconut or ginger or chocolate chips or sesame seeds or you-name-it—going beyond the traditional (though certainly not ho-hum) walnut addition. (Chef Camille Becerra put some ginger and coconut and flax seeds in hers, below.)

Here's how to do it:

Grab a few bananas on your way home from work tonight, throw them in the freezer, and survey your pantry: There's never been a better time to use up odds and ends. Banana bread is the perfect safe space for experimentation. Tomorrow, when you bake the bread, you'll know that with the blank canvas that it is, you'll be able to taste the added splotches of espresso or cardamom or tahini all the more vividly. (If you need a blank canvas, this is a very good one.)

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Stir espresso powder—and/or good old espresso—into the batter
  • Line your baking pan with flax seed, like Camille Becerra
  • Or finely grind tea (like a black tea or chai) and add it to the batter
  • Give it a streusel! Maybe this peanut-buttery streusel
  • Swirl a ribbon of brown butter through the pan
  • Give the batter a shot of bourbon (or rum)
  • Make the loaf a brown butter and boozy one
  • Roast your bananas before mashing them for a caramely dimension
  • Amp up the banana flavor. This recipe uses 5 bananas!
  • Add a bit of curry powder, like these banana cookies do
  • Make it grey, with help from black sesame
  • Go wild with chocolate—add cocoa powder or chips (standard semisweet or something like butterscotch) to the batter
  • Stir in a heck of a lot of seeds
  • Give it a creamy nuttiness with tahini (à la New York restaurant El Rey)
  • Sub in some of the batter's vegetable oil or butter for another kind of oil—like pistachio or walnut
  • Spice it darkly and warmly with molasses, brown sugar, ginger, and cloves

How do you dress up banana bread? (Do you dare?) Share your ideas in the comments.



HalfPint February 24, 2016
Here are a couple of jazzed up add-ins that I've had that worked deliciously well:<br /><br />1. Maraschino cherries. Yeah, those impossibly neon red maraschino cherries mixed into the batter. It works. Trust me.<br /><br />2. A layer of apricot jam and a thin layer of cream cheese in the middle. So good. Served to me by a 90 year old Bubie.
Iman A. February 24, 2016
Try this recipe, made it yesterday for my office and everyone kept saying that it was the best banana bread they ever had!
Coco E. February 23, 2016
Switch up the flour - I like to use 50/50 buckwheat and oat!
Denise W. February 23, 2016
Crushed pineapple, orange juice and macadamia nuts---so delicious!!!
jacqueline_willis February 23, 2016
blueberries, lemon juice and a lemon sugar crust
Denise W. February 23, 2016
Sounds amazing!