A Favorite Banana “Bread”
One of my favorite recipes from my cookbook is a buttermilk-banana quick bread I call Banana Snacking Cake. A quick bread is any bread recipe made without yeast. Typically, that’s recipes like banana bread or pumpkin bread made in a loaf pan. Snack cakes are usually lightly sweetened cakes without frosting. Banana snacking cake pushes the “quick bread” boundary into the “quick dessert” vein. It’s sweet enough to serve as a dessert the night you bake it, but it’s also delicious with coffee for a morning treat. I’ve been tweaking this recipe for almost two decades, and my youngest used to like to wrap up slices of this cake and take it to her lower school teachers. I don’t think there were ever any complaints!
- I use an 8-inch baking pan to make this, but you could also use two loaf pans. You could also bake this in paper loaf pans and wrap them up with cellophane and ribbon as holiday gifts.
- I hang parchment paper over two sides of the pan (see the first photo above). I don’t worry about overlapping the parchment paper to hang over all four sides. If you use a paring knife to cut around the perimeter of the baked cake (after it cools while it’s still in the cake pan) it will be super easy to lift out of the pan.
- It’s not necessary to bake the banana slices into the top of the cake, and I’ve started to like the snacking cake better without them. And to cut down on sugar, omit the buttermilk glaze on top.
- When my bananas start to turn brown, I let them really get dark and then I put them in the freezer in a storage container. You can either keep them in the peel or remove them from the peel and put them directly into a container — and then just keep adding to it.
- Last tip: I recently made this when I was feeling lazy and tired on a Saturday morning. I combined all the wet ingredients from step 3 (see the recipe below) in a large bowl, but used avocado oil instead of butter. Then I mixed in the dry ingredients one by one. Everything got mixed together in one big bowl with a whisk. It turned out great!
- Feel free to substitute the same amount of avocado oil or olive oil for the butter.
- To make this gluten-free, use your favorite GF baking mix. I use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Baking Mix or their Paleo Baking Flour.
- If you don’t have buttermilk but want to make this, use the same amount of milk (skim, 2%, whatever!) and add a squeeze of lemon juice to the milk, you’ll need about 2 teaspoons.
- To make this more decadent, stir in chocolate chips to the batter or sprinkle them on top of the snacking cake before baking.
Looking for other baking ideas?
Banana Snacking Cake
- 1 8-inch square baking pan
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing pan, or avocado oil
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free baking mix
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1/2 cup buttermilk well-shaken
- 3-4 bananas very ripe, with black skins (1 to 1/2 cups)
- 1 banana soft (but not overripe)
- Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, creasing the inside edge so it fits snugly into the pan. Let two sides of the parchment paper hang over the pan, which will help you remove it easily later. Grease the parchment as well.
- In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; whisk well to combine. Set aside.
- In a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for about a minute; use a rubber spatula to scrape down the inside of the bowl. With the mixer running on medium to medium-high speed, slowly pour in the sugar in a steady stream. Continue beating for 3 to 5 minutes, until very light and fluffy and a light yellow color, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl about halfway through. Add the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, completely incorporating each egg. Turn the mixer to low speed and pour in one-third of the flour mixture, one-third of the buttermilk and one-third of the mashed bananas. Repeat until all the dry ingredients, buttermilk and bananas are incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- To top with the optional banana slices before baking, gently slice the banana in half lengthwise with its peel on. This will make it less likely that the banana will break in half. Carefully remove the peel and place each slice cut side up, gently push into the batter, leaving about 2 inches of space between the halves. Sprinkle the banana with turbinado sugar.
- Bake for about 70 to 90 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Check after 30 minutes, covering the pan with foil if the cake is getting too brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Once mostly cool to the touch, you can lift the cake out of the pan using the overhanging parchment paper. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.