Genius Recipes

Banana Bread—in Half the Time

Those icy bananas taking over the freezer find a happy new home in this week’s Genius Recipe.

April 29, 2020

Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.

If you are like me, an icy banana lands on your toe most times you open the freezer door.

Some people like to unsheath them, maybe even pre-chop and keep them in a neat bag for swifter smoothies and one-ingredient ice cream. Again, if you are like me, you didn’t remember to do that.

The new (speedier, crunchier, fluffier) banana bread. Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Ali Slagle. Food stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

If you are like Samantha Seneviratne, graceful food stylist, soothing on-screen talent, and author of the new cookbook The Joys of Baking, you might have come across a spare baking banana in another way: Her son Arthur didn’t like eating bananas as a toddler, so whenever he saw one, he’d throw it across the room. Her book is filled with poignant essays and stories like this, in chapters driven by the feelings that inspire us to bake: Courage, Bliss, Love, Wisdom, and Grace (the banana-throwing chapter).

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Sam's looked like it was so easy to cut and mine was really hard to separate? the end product was delicious but i ended up like you having to paste back on blobs that stuck to my knife. any suggestions for next time? (ps. tell hubby, keep up the great work! we appreciate him!)”
— tim P.

But back to what I meant by baking bananas: They’re the ones that are so ripe and sticky-sweet and banged-about, you might not be excited to eat them as-is. And the wonderful thing about baking bananas is you don’t have to.

They’re ideal for banana bread, which I bake regularly (usually with my mom’s recipe) when my freezer is really heaving them at me—or when I’ve been sheltered in place for six weeks and counting. But this means that, along with the rest of the baking internet, I’ve been eating a whole lot of it lately.

My mom's banana bread, only fiddled with slightly. Photo by moi @miglorious/Instagram

So it’s especially wonderful now to get a new way to love baking bananas—one with all the comforts of a classic banana bread, but with crunchy-sweet edges on every side and fluffed, buttery insides like a warm biscuit. With oozy chocolate and toasted nuts making pockets and hillocks throughout. And—most importantly, most promisingly—in about half the time.

Because while banana bread is blessedly quick to mash together, it often bakes for a good hour or more, then needs to cool at least a little bit before you tear off a piece, and a lot longer if you want a clean slice.

In Samantha’s Banana Bread Scones, you’re still bashing together a baked good quickly—with two table knives or your hands to cut in the butter, then a fork to stir the dough into a ball. (Less fuss means colder butter—and colder butter means fluffier scones.)

But better yet, they bake in about 20 minutes and you can eat them as soon as they won’t burn your tongue. By this point, banana bread would still be goo in the oven.

So for the impatient, for the crunchy-edge curious, for those who’ve been blessed with a banana thrown at their feet—this recipe can join the ranks of our favorite banana breads (and help us keep our freezers in check).

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]—thank you, as-ever, to editor, stylist, and super-tipster Ali Slagle for this one.

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Gabriele Monnett Farjadi
    Gabriele Monnett Farjadi
  • Anthony Go
    Anthony Go
  • tim pearson
    tim pearson
  • Emjslp
  • Prissy
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Gabriele M. September 2, 2020
Want to make a double batch. Do they freeze well? I’ve baked them once already and they were so delicious. Thank you for this recipe.
Anthony G. May 20, 2020
I like the lively baking demonstration for tasty banana cake, I usually mix with almond, rhubarb and plum together. I add little bit of rum with butter.
Your husband took the video with iPhone? What kind of tele lens is he using?
Kristen M. May 20, 2020
Yes, on both of our iPhones (one on a little tripod). No lens—it's actually a little microphone you see on there!
tim P. May 9, 2020
my pre-baked product was really moist? Sam's looked like it was so easy to cut and mine was really hard to separate? the end product was delicious but i ended up like you having to paste back on blobs that stuck to my knife. any suggestions for next time? (ps. tell hubby, keep up the great work! we appreciate him!)
Kristen M. May 16, 2020
Hey Tim, the only tips that come to mind are working really fast so the butter doesn't melt (and keeping all your ingredients cold, even your flour, as Sam does) and holding off on dumping in all the liquid at first to account for possible differences in weather and flour amounts (if you're measuring by volume).
tim P. May 17, 2020
ok, that makes sense! cannot wait for your next video! thank you for getting us thru these days with your great work! we appreciate you! and your hubby of course... tim
Kristen M. May 18, 2020
Thank you, Tim, and thanks for cooking along!
Emjslp May 2, 2020
I rarely have cream, but usually more than 1 banana... could I substitute the cream with more banana??
Kristen M. May 2, 2020
Sure! If the mix looks too dry, you could use a little milk or yogurt to help it come together.
Prissy May 2, 2020
These are yummy. My butter was really cold, so I just grated it into the mix. They baked up nicely too. Thanks for sharing!
Kristen M. May 2, 2020
Love it!
Terry B. May 1, 2020
Oh my gosh, I need bananas and cream, because these look delicious! I couldn't stop looking at the cute sign on top of your fridge. Mind sharing where you got it? Can't wait to make these!
Kristen M. May 2, 2020
My brother has found a couple of these for me and my husband over the years at thrift stores because of some old inside joke I don't remember—I bet you could find something similar on Etsy!
Terry B. May 2, 2020
Thank you! It's so simple, all I keep seeing are signs written in script that are far too fancy for my decor! I'll keep looking!
Teresa May 1, 2020
I made these yesterday and they were delish. I didn't have heavy cream so used almond milk and only had walnuts on hand. I would have zested some orange peel but instead diced up one of those Trader Joe's dried sweetened orange slices (severe addiction). Can't wait to make these again! Thanks for the recipe.
Kristen M. May 2, 2020
TinaI May 1, 2020
This looks like a great recipe. And I’m so enjoying all your videos Kristen. I’ve never had time to actually sit and watch them. I definitely read and save your recipes, but its been so fun to actually watch you. And I think I will like the ones done in your kitchen better than the studio. :)
Kristen M. May 2, 2020
Thanks so much, Tinal—I'm glad they're keeping you company now.
ambabek April 30, 2020
Thanks for a great recipe! Because of the whole COVID situation...any suggestions for a replacement for heavy cream? :(...I have buttermilk, almond milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk...
TinaI April 30, 2020
I think you could probably use any of those for replacements except for the condensed milk.
Kristen M. May 1, 2020
Tinal, thanks so much for weighing in! I agree, and think that the more richness and flavor you can add, the better, so I'd go with buttermilk or evaporated milk, personally.
bette April 30, 2020
Nuts are an important ingredient - any suggestion for alternative - nut allergy..
Kristen M. May 1, 2020
Hi Bette, honestly I think you'd be just fine leaving them out—there's so much great texture from the crust. Or if you have a nut allergy that allows for pinenuts, groundnuts like cashews, or seeds like toasted sesame or pumpkin seeds, those would all be options for added nuttiness and crunch.
Julia R. April 30, 2020
I love the atmosphere of the video! :) It makes me relax and want to make the scones right away! :)
Rachel April 30, 2020
Kristen is a calm person,I am sure cuz she passes that on to us as she cooks and bakes with us.
Kristen M. May 1, 2020
Thank you both—so glad the video makes you want to bake! I couldn't hope for more.
Susan C. April 30, 2020
Looks yummy I want to try it.
Kristen M. May 1, 2020
Hope you love it, Susan!
Lynn P. April 30, 2020
Have made these twice in the past couple of months and I. am. in. LOVE! My favorite trick is to freeze after mixing and shaping and then pull out 1 or 2 to bake when I am need of cheering up - almost instant YUM :-)
Rachel April 30, 2020
Great idea!
Kristen M. May 1, 2020
So cool you know and love them already, Lynn!
ctgal April 29, 2020
Boo hoo. Have to be gluten free and a little afraid to try it with a 1 to 1 gluten free flour. But I have lots of bananas and these look delicious! Sighhhh.
Hannah April 30, 2020
I’ve worked with the King Arthur brand of gluten free flour with excellent results. Their 1-for-1 blend doesn’t taste weird and you can sub it for all-purpose flours.
Camilles C. May 1, 2020
1:1 flour is just that!! Make the recipe they are delicious!!!
Kristen M. May 1, 2020
Thanks for your votes of confidence, Hannah and Camille—I agree that a scone would be a great place to use a good gluten-free 1:1.
cheryl S. April 29, 2020
Mash the bananas and put them in a standard 2 cup takeout container and they’ll behave better in the freezer!
Kristen M. May 1, 2020
So smart, thank you.
Stephanie G. April 29, 2020
I love Samantha's recipes.
Kristen M. May 1, 2020
Me too!