Moist and sweet, with a hint of nutmeg, this easy recipe will be your new go-to for banana bread
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour (includes cooling time)
Banana bread was the first thing I ever learned to bake from scratch. I distinctly remember the heady feeling that came from taking all these disparate things and making a moist, amazing, deliciously sweet thing out of them. It felt like magic. Being someone who spent more time reading fantasy novels than living in the real world, I fancied myself some medieval peasant girl making her loaves of magical bread*, preparing to set off on an adventure.
*Not that the average medieval peasant would have access to any of the ingredients in this recipe. But this was the fantasy story-weaving of a twelve year old, okay?
It was also the first recipe I ever tinkered with. Even though the original recipe doesn’t call for any spices, my mom would always sprinkle in cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice (in hindsight, this was probably what sparked my love affair with spiced cakes). So I would experiment with different levels of spices and note which combinations I like best.
But I haven’t made banana bread in a long time! And I haven’t look at my mom’s recipe (still stored in the front of her battered little cottage recipe box for easy access) in an even longer time. Nostalgia and banana bread cravings are powerful things, though! Mom was happy to lend me her recipe and I whipped up a batch (adding in my signature blend of spices) and it was heaven. But it didn’t really taste like banana bread. More like a spiced quick bread that you wouldn’t know had banana in it.
So in the spirit of my relationship with this recipe, I set to tinkering. My understanding of baking has changed so much since those early days, but the joy of putting something together, waiting for chemistry to happen, then seeing what comes out on the other side is still very much alive. To make sure that the banana flavor was able to shine through, I pared the spices down to one—a modest amount of nutmeg (cinnamon and allspice were a little too pushy to make the cut). I also tried it with toasted sugar, thinking that caramel and banana notes would be out of this world, but I wasn’t impressed enough with the results to make it worth the effort of toasting sugar.
What you’ll be making today is the best of those experimentation efforts! It combines strong banana flavor* with just the right amount of sugar, a little saltiness and just enough nutmeg to tip the flavor into “best-ever banana bread” territory. Plus, this recipe is easy peasy. No need to cream butter and sugar or make meringue to lighten the batter or proof and knead (we’ve been making some pretty involved recipes lately, haven’t we?) anything—you’ll just toss together your dry ingredients, beat together your wet ones, get the two together and bake. Phew! This banana bread is exactly what the busy dog days of summer need!
*Don’t have ripe bananas but want banana bread now? I feel ya. Quickly ripen bananas by poking through theirs peels with a fork in a few places. Then microwave in 30-second intervals until they are spotty brown. Make sure to let them cool a little between intervals. Bonus of this method is that gooey warm bananas are super easy to mash.