Happy Thursday everyone! I love Thursdays, because you know what it means? It means tomorrow is Friday and the weekend is near! Even though this week has gone by extremely fast, I want it to go just a little bit faster because I am super excited for this coming weekend! Alright, really I am excited for every weekend, but this weekend I am extra excited for!
So why am I so excited for this weekend? Well, I have exactly three reasons for my excitement …
1. It is my Daddy’s birthday on Friday night, so I will be getting together with my whole family to go out for a delicious birthday dinner at this AMAZING Chinese food restaurant that is to die for!
2. It is Father’s Day on Sunday, so I will be heading over to my parents house for yet another family dinner, however, this dinner will be even more amazing because it it being prepared by my gourmet cook of a mother. 😀
3. Because of all of all the special occasions of this weekend, I will be responsible for baking nor only my Dad’s birthday cake, but also his Fathers Day dinner dessert (and I may even come over with a Father’s Day brunch surprise on Sunday)
So basically, because my weekend will be comprised of A LOT of baking followed by eating… I am a happy camper!
As you can see, despite the fact that I will have more baked goods than I know what to do with this weekend, I still felt that it was 100% necessary to bake something delicious half way through the week. Now before you judge me, I do have to day that I mostly did this because my boyfriend was without a nice treat to go along with his lunches for the week… yes let’s go with that excuse. So on Tuesday night, I decided to rectify this problem by baking the perfect treat…. Banana Bread and oh did it turn out perfectly!
I absolutely love this classic loaf. There is something so incredibly satisfying about a simple slice of Banana Bread either on its own or paired with your favourite spread. For me, my spread of choice for banana bread is a little bit of butter and raspberry jam. This is how my mom used to always serve up her homemade Banana Bread to my brothers and I when we were kids. There was nothing more exciting than when we opened up our lunch boxes and found a nice thick slice of homemade Banana Bread, carefully cut in half and filled with butter and jam. Just thinking about it now is making me all warm and fuzzy – clearly I will have to get myself a slice of this Banana Bread if I am to continue writing this post.
Some of you are probably thinking… okay lady settle down – it’s just some simple Banana Bread… and you are absolutely right. Banana Bread is one of those classic baked goods that is sweet, simple and yes, absolutely perfect. So today’s post is all about Banana Bread, and just how awesome this simple loaf truly is!
What I love about banana bread, is that it is so amazingly versatile – you can essentially throw in whatever little additions you want to a banana bread batter and it will be a deliciously unique creation. Whether you are feeling a seasonal fruit add in such as blueberries, strawberries, apples; or maybe you want to try a dried fruit addition like cranberries & raisins; or if you’re feeling a nutty addition like pecans & walnuts; or of course I cannot forget about adding some extra decadence and sweetness with some dark chocolate chips or toffee bits.
When it comes to banana bread, it seems that the possibilities are endless! I have so many banana bread variations that I want to try, so I thought I would start with this one! I am calling it Coconut-Almond Crunch Banana Bread, (basically because coconut and almonds were the little additions I made to my classic Banana Bread recipe.) I have to say that this Banana Bread turned out absolutely fabulous, and I am extremely proud of the result. I wish that I could have somehow bottled the scent that was wafting through my house as this Banana Bread baked for an hour in my little oven, because it was the most heavenly, warm, cinnamony, brown sugary, banana bread aroma! Okay, so I just made up a whole bunch of words, but those are truly the best words to describe it!
This Banana Bread rose up beautifully, (which can sometimes be a frustrating issue when it comes to Banana Bread,) the coconut added a subtle hint of sweet flavour, which complimented the banana so well – and by adding just a little bit of a flaky almond topping, not only made the Banana Bread look positively delectable, but it gave the top of the crust a fabulous crunch! Mmm mmm!
Not to mention, my man absolutely loved this Banana Bread variation (which is a big deal, because he isn’t much of a foodie and can rarely distinguish the difference between recipes.) It warmed my heart when I got a little text message from him around 9:15 everyday this week, as he enjoyed his Banana Bread slice on his morning break saying, “Mmmm Banana Bread…” Okay, so he is a man of few words, but yes – this Banana Bread is definitely a success story, and I would even venture to say it is a Perfect Banana Bread (hence the title).
So without further adieu, here is my recipe for Coconut-Almond Crunch Banana Bread… AKA Perfect Banana Bread – Enjoy 🙂
Coconut Almond Banana Bread
Things you need…
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (optional)
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 cup crushed almonds (I used sliced almonds and crushed by hand)
1 tbsp flaked coconut
How to make…
In a small bowl, mix together dark brown sugar, crushed almonds and coconut until combined. (I just mixed by hand and crushed my sliced almonds with my fingers) Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease one 9 x 5 loaf pan, set aside.
Peel your three bananas, and mash with a fork until there are no lumps. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, dark brown sugar & light brown sugar- beat until light and fluffy. Add in both eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in vanilla extract and mashed bananas.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently combine. Add in sour cream and gently combine. Add in remaining 1/2 of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, being careful not to over mix.
Spoon the batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with dark brown sugar & almond topping so you have a thin layer across the top.
Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool to one hour before serving. You can serve slightly warm or completely cooled. Serve on its own or with your favourite spread.
* This recipe adapted from The Complete Canadian Living Baking Guide Book – Banana Pecan Loaf *
Now because I know that Banana Bread can sometimes be a tricky and even a heartbreaking baking endeavor when it doesn’t turn out, here are a few of my tips for baking a perfect Banana Bread that will hopefully help to to be successful every time:
1. Always use very, VERY ripe bananas…
I know that sometimes when you just get one of those hankerings for fresh, homemade, delicious banana bread, it can be nearly impossible to not just reach for the fresh bananas you have sitting on your counter – but you must resist!!! The key to making a nice, moist, banana bread with that sweet banana flavour, is to use overripe bananas. I personally like to use VERY overripe bananas, like I’m not talking they just have a couple of brown spots on their peels, I mean I like my bananas to be pretty much completely brown (sometimes black). I know this may seem weird or gross, but trust me, this is absolutely key to making a good banana bread.
2. Use Cinnamon…
No matter what kind of Banana Bread variation I am baking, I always add a small amount of cinnamon to my batter. Now, this may be a personal preference, (as I don’t even think I can put into words how much I love cinnamon,) but I just think that Banana Bread without cinnamon is like chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips. So, even if you’re not a huge cinnamon fan, my advice is to just add a dash of cinnamon rather than a full teaspoon and I promise, you are making the right decision. The cinnamon compliments the banana so well, and it will make the flavour of your Banana Bread much more dynamic. In short, Banana Bread and Cinnamon are meant to be together… let them be together.
3. Let’s talk about Brown Sugar…
Yes, let’s! Let’s talk about, nutty, caramely, fragrant and delicious brown sugar goodness! Okay, I am making up words again – but it is for good reason! Remember when I said that I couldn’t describe my love for cinnamon? Well, similarly, I am finding myself just as tongue tied when it comes to talking about my love for brown sugar. Love is actually a gross understatement when it comes to my feelings for brown sugar, but for now it will have to do. I LOVE brown sugar! Thus, there are certain baked goods which I think you must always use brown sugar for, and Banana Bread is most certainly one of them. Naturally, when I am reading a new Banana Bread recipe and I read ” 1 cup of granulated sugar” the first thing that pops into my head is… substitute brown sugar instead! I know it seems like I just can’t leave well enough alone when it comes to adding my own spin on a recipe, but brown sugar in baking is worth it and I am willing to accept this title for the love of brown sugar! Like I said earlier, brown sugar just offers a much more rich, caramely, nutty flavour than white sugar can deliver, and to put it quite simply, that rich flavour combines far too well with banana to not use it.
4. Top it off with something local & delicious…
Although Banana Bread is delicious all by its fabulous little self, I do enjoy trying different spreads to go along with all of my variations. For me, my favourite spread on Banana Bread is hands down is a good quality Jam and I cannot in good conscience finish posting this blog without telling you about the recent jam discovery I made. While I was perusing the aisles at Urban Fare (which is a “higher end” grocery store in Vancouver) on my lunch break the other day -yes, this is how I often spend my lunch breaks – I came across the jam section and I obviously had to spend some quality time there and I am so glad that I did! I discovered a brand of gourmet jam’s, condiments & vinaigrette’s called “Trugs Gourmet.” After reading the label and learning that not only are their products produced right here in BC, in Horseshoe Bay to be exact, but also that their products are only made with natural ingredients and no preservatives, I was sold! Although I wanted to buy just about their entire selection that was on display, I refrained and bought just one jar of their “Ravishing Raspberry Jam” to try, (featured in the photograph above,) and oh my goodness, let me tell you, this jam = heaven. You can immediately tell how fresh and natural the ingredients are and the flavour is phenomenal. For anybody who has access to this jam, I highly recommend that you give it a try.
Not only do I love to eat Banana Bread, I also love to bake Banana Breads or other loafs and give them away as little thank you presents on occasion. This is a simple way to say thank you to somebody in your life, but because it is made with your personal tender love and care, it will mean so much more to the person who receives it. Plus, how adorable does this Banana Bread look wrapped up in a simple piece of parchment and sealed with a piece of decorative string?
So there you have it! Helpful tips to ensure your success and a truly fantastic Banana Bread that is sure to have you coming back for “just one more slice” over and over again. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, an afternoon coffee break or dessert, Banana Bread is such a versatile and delicious baking staple, and I hope this recipe will give you a good base to build your own unique variations.
As always, remember that after you bake the Banana Bread, to share with your friends, eat with your loved ones and repeat.