Kitchen Frau: Best Banana Bread

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This is the Banana Bread I’d Been Looking For

For years I’d been on the hunt for just the right banana bread recipe, trying many different ones. I found some that were too sweet or too wet and heavy, a few that had so many add-ins they weren’t even banana bread anymore, and some that were just okay. It was usually disappointing. It wasn’t until I tasted this version in a little cookbook I picked up on a trip to Jamaica a few years ago, that I knew I’d found a keeper. Jamaica is famous for its banana bread, and you’ll find it everywhere, packed in individual slices or cut in slabs off a loaf: at all the resort buffets, gas stations, street markets, and every little corner store. There’s something classic and timeless about the beloved banana loaf, and when you taste it on a tropical island made with sweet local bananas, you fall in love with it all over again.

I think it’s the magical mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla that makes the Jamaican banana bread such a stand-out recipe. You can’t really taste the spices individually, but they boost the banana flavour to give you a rich, complex loaf that’s decadently moist but firm enough to handle. Just a few raisins add sweet punctuation marks. The only change I’ve made to the original recipe is to decrease the sugar slightly and replace it with coconut sugar, which adds a lovely caramel note to the loaf.

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You can, of course, add chopped nuts if you wish (pecans or walnuts are nice) or a handful of chocolate chips or chopped dates for a bit of decadence. You can decorate the top with banana slices or cut a banana in half lengthwise and lay the halves, cut-side-up, on top of the loaf before baking for an added bit of fanciful decoration.

Let the banana loaf cool (if you can stand to wait) and slather it with a smear of salted butter for a spot of banana bread heaven.

And don’t forget to pack a thick slab in your lunch box.

Kitchen Frau Notes: Make sure your bananas are very ripe, with lots of brown spots on them, for the best natural sweetness to the loaf.

Best Ever Banana Bread Recipe

adapted from ‘The Real Taste of Jamaica’ by Enid Donaldson

  • ½ cup soft butter
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large, very ripe bananas (1½ cups of mashed banana)
  • 2 cups flour (or a gluten free blend)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a large loaf pan – one that is 9 x 5 inches or 10 x 4 inches in size. Line it with a parchment paper sling that sticks up a bit on each side; make sure the ends of the pan are well greased.

Cream the butter and coconut sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until it is well incorporated.

Mash the banana (a potato masher makes easy work of this) and add it to the batter, beating well.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and mix well. Then add the milk and vanilla and beat until it is incorporated. Add the raisins and beat on low speed to stir them in.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then lift the loaf up using the sling, onto a cake rack to cool completely before slicing.

Makes 1 large loaf.

By Margaret Bose-Johnson

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