One-Bowl Brown Butter Banana Bread is a little black dress of a recipe: classic, go anywhere, always special.
If you have a hankering for banana bread, might I suggest you give this one a try? Although I have not reinvented the wheel, this is a taste-of-home recipe, adapted from my mother’s one, that deserves your attention. Plus, chances are you have everything you need to get baking. So, curl up with a hot cup of tea and read on. 🙂
Why make this brown butter banana bread
For those of you not inclined to bake, fearing failure/fancy ingredients/lack of fine motor skills, banana bread is for you. This recipe is fool-proof. It uses store cupboard/fruit bowl ingredients. And as for decorating, it doesn’t get easier than slicing a banana and plopping it on top.
Another big plus that makes it doable for anyone, is that it is equipment-light. Bowl, spoon, oven, pan, measuring spoons and scale (or cups, if you must) are all that you need.
Of course, all of the above is null and void if the recipe isn’t delicious. I am firmly of the mind that I don’t want to waste calories or time baking something just because it’s easy, and uses stuff I already have/need to use up. Nope, it needs to tempt me to lick the bowl. It needs to make my mouth water as it bakes. It needs to be near-impossible to let it cool enough to slice.
This is that recipe.
What makes this banana bread irresistible?
Two words: Brown butter.
Now, you can definitely make it vegan; I give instructions for that below. But, if you can, use real butter. Use organic butter from grass-fed cows, unsalted and from a freshly-opened pack. I sometimes use half butter and half fruity extra virgin olive oil. And it tastes great, with a super texture and moistness. But once you try the brown butter hack, that’s you for life.
Find your favourite brand – or make your own, as I sometimes do. Then perhaps save it for when you can really taste it. Like on sliced, toasted sourdough. Or in this brown butter banana bread.
Browning butter is a very simple thing, but it has such an impact on its flavour: toasty, nutty, rich, extraordinarily aromatic.
What is brown butter?
Butter is comprised of three elements: fat, milk solids and water. When browning butter you are cooking it to evaporate the water, with the the fat separating from the milk solids, too. What results is a superbly rich, golden-brown liquid with an intensely “buttery” taste. This is also what you do to make ghee, although ghee and clarified butter are strained of the milk solids before using or storing. Keeping the butter on the heat until it gets deeply golden and lightly browned is just an extra step. This article gives an excellent overview of the process and the differences between ghee, clarified butter and brown butter, as well as uses.
How to make brown butter
For our purposes, these are the steps to take:
1) Slice the butter – in this case 80 grams in weight – and place it into a small, non-flimsy pan and heat over a medium flame. As it melts, stir it. At this point I should let you know that you will not be leaving the pan for anything. Doorbells can ring, children can argue, dogs can beg to be let it: stand firm or the butter will burn. In a blink of an eye.
2) Once the butter melts completely it will foam up and you won’t be able to see the bottom of the pan. Have faith: it will subside. Once the foam dies down, you will start to see brown sediment appear at the bottom of the pan. This means that the butter is browning and nearly ready. Let it carry on just until it gets a light brown. This will be just a matter of seconds, not minutes. If you want to stop the cooking when you see the sediment, this is fine, too. The deeper the colour the richer the taste, but you need to know when to stop before it gets burned. It is a fine line.
3) Take the pan off the hob and pour the browned butter into a cool bowl. For this recipe just pour it straight into the mixing bowl as the first ingredient to be mixed.
4) If not using right away let it cool completely and store in a lidded jar in the refrigerator. Clarified butter and ghee are strained butters and can be stored for quite awhile. Browned butter is not strained of the milk solids and will spoil more quickly. I suggest you use any extra butter you might brown for other things (to sizzle capers for pasta!) within a week.
The extra secret
Well, to anyone who makes banana bread it’s not a secret, but if you are a newbie to banana bread making you have to know this. Make sure your bananas are very, very ripe. Heavily – darkly – spotted and verging on imploding. It’s okay if they are a bit mushy, or more than a bit mushy. I draw the line at bananas that smell faintly of booze (that’s them fermenting), but even that’s okay.
Want to ripen your bananas faster so that you can bake this ASAP? Give one of these banana-ripening tips from Spruce Eats a go. It won’t be as good as letting nature do the work, but the brown butter does some serious heavy lifting, amping the flavour enough to spark your bake to life.
Once you have made the browned butter the rest is just a matter of mixing it all up – one bowl! – pouring into a lined baking tin and baking until browned, risen and impossibly enticing. Then there is the waiting for it to cool.
That’s the hardest step.
Other banana breads and cakes on Food To Glow
These can all be adapted to use brown butter.
Read the recipe below and note the variations you can make and the vegan tweak, too.
Do let me know if you make my Brown Butter Banana Bread in the comments below, or on one of my social channels. Find me on Instagram (where I also share Instagram-only easy recipes!), Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. I love your comments, emails, messages and likes! Thanks so much for taking the time to read Food To Glow. It means so much to me xx
One-Bowl Brown Butter Banana Bread
One-Bowl Brown Butter Banana Bread is a simple, moist and delectable way to use up over-ripe bananas. Slices freeze well and are perfect for lunchboxes and with a cup of tea.
- 80 g unsalted butter organic and best quality, plus a little extra to top
- 350 g mashed ripe bananas 3 medium bananas, peeled weight
- 100 g muscovado brown sugar or other dark, rich minimally processed sugar
- 2 tbsp black treacle/molasses
- 50 g yogurt
- 2 lg organic eggs room temperature; beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 125 g wholemeal spelt flour or plain wholemeal/wholewheat flour
- 125 g white spelt flour or plain flour
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt can go down to 1/4 teaspoon
- 1 small banana optional; for top of cake
Preheat your oven to 160C fan/180C/350F. Oil a 2 lb (9 x 5) loaf tin, and line with a long strip of parchment paper (this makes lifting the cake out much easier).
Slice the butter and heat in a small pan, watching it like a hawk, until it is deep golden. Stir it occasionally to prevent burning. It will foam up, then subside to a clear state, and you will start to see brown "sediment". Take the butter off the heat when it reaches a golden brown colour. Immediately pour it into your mixing bowl. I like to use a ceramic or Pyrex bowl.
Now add the mashed bananas, sugar, treacle, yogurt, egg and vanilla. Mix until completely amalgamated. I tend to use a strong whisk, but a large wooden spoon is fine, too. Now sift over the flours, baking powder, salt and cardamom, tipping in any bran left in the sieve. Mix lightly, just until the flour disappears. Do not beat as this will make the banana bread tough.
Now pour the batter into the prepared tin. If you are decorating with a banana, slice it lengthways into three thin planks, laying them over the batter. Place on the centre shelf of your preheated oven and bake for around 50 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a thin skewer or toothpick; it is done if the skewer comes out clean. If a little batter is still clinging, place back in the oven - lightly covering with foil if brown enough - for a further 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and slick with a little butter if you wish. Perhaps even the tiniest lightest dusting of ground cardamom (be careful though; it's potent stuff). Set aside to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before removing the bread from the pan - use the overhanging paper - and allowing it to cool completely. Slice it up and enjoy with a cup of tea! Eat within five days, or freeze some for enjoying later.
To make muffins - often more appealing to kids - reduce the baking time to 20-25 minutes.
Variations: add chocolate chips (about 75 grams); chopped toasted nuts (about 75 grams); use ground cinnamon or nutmeg instead of the cardamom. You can also use either all butter or all olive oil. In this type of cake the only difference will be one of taste rather than texture.
To freeze: slice the banana bread and interleave slices with parchment paper before placing in a freezer-safe box or bag. To eat, remove however many slices you wish and let defrost naturally. This won't take long. The bread will keep well in the freezer for one month.
Make it vegan: use 2 teaspoons of baking powder rather than 1 teaspoon of baking soda and eliminate the yogurt and eggs; replace butter with a good quality solid vegan butter such as Naturli'.
Make it gluten-free: this is easily converted to your favourite gluten-free flour mix, although I've not yet made it this way.
A note on using US measurements: I have provided a tab to convert to US measures. Round them up or down as needed. For instance, the conversion of flour turns 125 grams of flour to 1.o4 cups. Obviously just use a level cup, tapping it on the counter after filling and adding more as needed to get it level at the top line.
Pin now. Make soon!