I'm a bit of a latecomer to the COVID19 banana bread game. But I'm making up for lost time.
It's not my fault! I have two children and they somehow manage to eat approximately 72 bananas a week. They just do not reach the squishy, mottled stage that most of us associate with banana bread because they are sucked into the bottomless void that is a toddler's belly.
So when I finally got a small supply of aging bananas, I jumped at my chance. I decided to use a technique similar to this carrot cake and whip the eggs and sugar for structure. It's a deceptive technique - easier than separating and lifting with meringue since it's just whole eggs and sugar - but requires a little bit of patience since it takes 5-7 minutes for the mixture to aerate. When it's ready, you'll be able to lift the beater and draw a ribbon with the mixture that sits on top for just a second before it falls back in. You're probably going to see me return to this again and again in my grain-free baking.
And I know- yes, it does mean that banana bread is no longer a one-bowl affair. But I promise it's worth the extra dishes, because it also means that we can achieve so much more than the dense, sloppy mass that so often happens with grain free baking - instead resulting in a tall, moist bread with an even crumb - the perfect banana canvas.
And paint on that canvas I did. Browned butter, toasted walnuts, and cinnamon in the batter. More walnuts and a perfectly ripe banana on top. A leisurely spin through the oven and we've got banana bread.
And it is a perfect loaf. Sweet enough to feel like a treat, but not so sweet that you're eating cake disguised as bread. Browning the butter deepens the nuttiness that the walnuts and almond flour bring. Adding just a small amount of coconut flour helps keep the mush factor at bay (be careful when measuring, though -- coconut flour is tricky and too much will turn your loaf into a brick).
My favorite way to eat this loaf is lightly toasted with a little extra butter on top. And some strong black tea. While enjoying the peace and quiet that is the brief period in my day where both children are napping.
Brown butter banana bread with walnuts
- 3 cups blanched almond flour
- 2 Tbsp coconut flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 5 eggs
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup very ripe bananas, mashed (approx 3)
- 1 stick butter (8 Tbsp) plus more to grease pan
- 1 cup walnuts toasted and chopped
- 1 medium ripe banana (optional, for decoration)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Arrange the rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper by rubbing with butter and laying two sheets of parchment perpendicularly in the pan to make a sling.
- In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to evenly incorporate. Set aside.
- In a light-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mixture will foam and sputter some as the water evaporates out. Swirl gently to keep foam from overflowing and cook until the solids turn a deep golden brown, 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. (Watch this step, as brown butter becomes burnt butter very quickly!)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, combine eggs and coconut sugar. Whip on med-low until well combined, then turn to high and whip until mixture triples in volume, approximately 7 minutes. Test that the mixture is properly whipped by dipping the whip into the mixture and tracing back in forth above the mixture - it should hold a ribbon for a few seconds.
- In a small bowl, combined mashed banana, melted butter, and vanilla extract until well-mixed.
- With mixer on low, alternate adding dry ingredients and bananas to the eggs. Add the dry ingredients by thirds and the bananas ½ at a time so you start and end with dry ingredients.
- Fold ¾ walnuts into batter using a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan, then tap a couple times on the counter to evenly distribute. Decorate the top of the loaf with the medium-ripe banana by slicing in half lengthwise and laying on the loaf, then sprinkling with remaining walnuts.
- Bake loaf on the middle rack until well browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Loaf will also spring back slightly when touched. Cool in the pan 15 minutes, then use the parchment paper to lift the loaf out of the pan and cool completely on a rack.