Fun fact about me…I am allergic to bananas.
At least raw bananas. I have been ever since I was a baby. At the time, banana was considered THE quintessential first food for baby. So of course my mom fed it to me when I was old enough to start solids…only to be horrified a half hour later by the angry looking rash spreading on my skin from head to toe.
I have never liked the taste of bananas, so they’ve been fairly easy to avoid. From time to time I’ve tested them again, just to see if I’ve outgrown the allergy (especially when they’re in the form of banana pudding or some other fresh fruit dessert that looks delicious), but to this day, even a bite of raw banana will create a tickle in my throat that feels restrictive.
Strangely, none of this holds true for cooked bananas. Whatever component that affects me so must be cooked out of bananas once heated. The taste (for me) improves too! I’ve long been a fan of banana bread, banana muffins, and the like.
Which is why I developed this recipe. For awhile, Dear Hubby would eat bananas, berries and yogurt for breakfast everyday, so we always had bananas in the apartment. When they went on sale in the grocery store, which was fairly often, we’d inevitably buy more than he could eat before they turned brown.
Luckily, brown, overripe bananas are the perfect starting ingredient with which to make banana bread! In fact, I find that if you freeze bananas that have just begun to turn brown, then thaw them right before making the batter, then the resulting bread has a wonderfully moist texture.
The rest of the ingredients in this recipe come from a mix of other banana bread recipes I’ve tried, mainly my dad’s recipe which I loved as a kid (and as an adult!), with a knowledge of common allergy food replacements. Hubby eats mostly gluten free to help with his eczema, and I’ve temporarily adapted a dairy-free diet while I continue to breastfeed Darling Daughter, who has a suspected milk protein allergy. Therefore this recipe, like most of my recipes, is greatly adjustable to suit your dietary wants and needs.
This banana bread can basically be broken up into several groups of ingredients: Bananas, a fat, a sweetener, a binding agent, flour, a leavener or rising agent, and optional stir-ins. The bananas are obviously a must-have, but the rest of the ingredients are pretty adjustable.
The banana bread I grew up with as a kid used butter as the fat source. Rich and delicious, to be sure, but with DD’s milk protein allergy, I had to come up with another option. Coconut oil is my obvious choice, as the slight coconut flavor plays well with the banana. However, I recently tried olive oil and was amazed how GOOD it was! It transformed the bread into an almost savory bread (almost) which is nice sometimes to mix things up.
I try hard to avoid refined sugar for health reasons, though I see no reason why it wouldn’t work in this recipe. Brown sugar works well, but my sweetener of choice is definitely a dark maple syrup (what they used to call Grade B). Like coconut oil, the flavor of the maple syrup goes really well with the banana.
True story illustrating the interesting routes my brain sometimes takes: A recipe I tried when I was researching this one was for a vegan banana bread, and thus taught the reader how to make a “flax egg.” I didn’t have any flax seeds in the house, and so was frantically looking up what to substitute for a flax egg when I realized, hey. Flax seeds WERE the substitution. I’m not a vegan, and could easily use a normal egg! Not one of my prouder moments…
That said, if you ARE vegan, or are allergic to eggs, both ground flax seeds and chia seeds will form a gelatinous substance when mixed with water, and therefore are great substitutions for this binding agent.
As I’ve mentioned, my husband eats gluten free, and so I normally make this bread with oat flour, as I’ve found that to be the best single ingredient, 1:1 gluten free flour substitution out there (though if you are celiac, or affected greatly by gluten, make sure the oats are certified gluten free, as they are often manufactured in the same place as wheat flours). I have made this with All Purpose flour (or Sweden’s version of it), and it works well, though the consistency of the bread becomes less fluffy, more pound-cake like. I have not tried other flours though, so let me know if you have a suggestion!
One of the biggest challenges with learning to bake here in Sweden is baking soda is incredibly difficult to find here! Swedish recipes seem to only call for baking powder. I have finally found a source that sells baking soda as a “natural cleaning product” but it does not say food grade on the label, so I’ve been hesitant to use it in baking.
I’ve recently found out that, while both products are leaveners, baking soda is just a common name of sodium bicarbonate, which is alkaline, and needs to be activated by an acid and a liquid in order to leaven your baked goods. Baking powder is actually a blend of baking soda and an acid, so therefore generally just needs a liquid to start the rising process. A lot of baked goods (at least in the US) include both as a sort of extended process leavening. If you have baking soda available, I would recommend using a combination of both, since this bread has such a long baking time anyways.
My Dad’s banana bread had nothing mixed in it, but I personally love the crunch that is added by a handful of walnuts. Raisins are another popular choice. And lets not forget the sheer bliss that is banana chocolate chip bread. Yum!
With the varieties available in this recipe, it’s your one-stop shop for banana bread. The only thing left to figure out is, what to put on top?
It's Bananas! Bread
A delicious banana bread recipe adjustable to any allergy concern.
- 3 medium-large overripe bananas, preferably frozen and thawed
- Fat (eg. 1/4 cup melted butter, coconut oil or olive oil)
- Sweetener (eg. 1/4 cup maple syrup or 1/3 cup brown sugar (if using sugar, see notes))
- Binder (eg. 1 egg, or 1 Tbsp flax seeds + 3 Tbsp water, or 1 Tbsp chia seeds + 3 Tbsp water)
- Flour (eg. 2 cups AP flour, 2 1/4 cup oat flour)
- Rising Agent (eg. 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp baking soda, or 2 tsp baking powder)
- Optional Stir-ins (Walnuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, etc!)
- Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C.
- In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a potato masher or a fork. For a smoother consistency, mix with hand blender.
- Add your sweetener, fat, and binder. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, rising agent, and salt. Add slowly to the banana mixture, stirring until all the flour has moistened.
- Stir in optional stir-ins.
- Transfer mixture to a prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- If using sugar, increase the amount of liquid fat by 3 Tbsp, or decrease the flour by 1/8 cup.