Best Banana Bread (low sugar)
Spring brings out the crazy in me. One sunny day is all it takes, and I’m running around in flip flops throwing open windows, hanging laundry on the clothesline, flipping burgers on the grill, and dragging lawn furniture out of hibernation. Then the following day, the temperature drops 20°, accompanied by torrential downpours. With some hail and thunder thrown in for good measure. And I never see it coming. Suddenly I find myself in the kitchen, stirring a pot of soup and pulling on a pair of wool socks. It’s like those weird dreams where you switch location without warning. Where am I? What just happened?!
Spring in the Pacific Northwest is what happened. And while I love, love, love the sunshine, I must admit I don’t mind some rainy days thrown into the mix. If it rains, I bake. I’m predictable like that.
This week I baked a double batch of my favorite banana bread recipe. Overripe bananas are famine or feast in our house. We either have zero bananas or 27 with black spots. I think it has something to do with the fact that my kids swing from eating them nonstop to refusing to touch them. I can’t keep up with these little people! It’s nice when an overabundance of overripe fruit is not a waste though. Banana bread!
Most quick bread recipes call for a ton of oil and sugar. This recipes cuts the oil/butter by adding sour cream, which results in that trademark moist crumb. And the sugar. I am a firm believer that you could cut the sugar in most recipes by 1/3. In this case, I have cut it back even further because ripe bananas are so sweet on their own. A typical banana bread recipe with these ratios would have 2 cups of sugar!! I use just 1/2 cup.
This recipe is open to endless variations. I like to add Chia seeds and flax seeds or flax meal to pretty much any recipe I can get away with it. For the muffins, I topped them with shredded coconut before baking and stashed them in the freezer for my husband, who is always looking for a quick breakfast or snack option to add to his lunchbox. You can pour the batter into loaf pans and add different ingredients directly to the pan, stirring gently to evenly incorporate it to the dough. With a single recipe, you can change it up with 2 different types of banana bread or 2 dozen muffins.
This time around, I added chocolate chunks from Trader Joe’s (of course) to one and fresh cranberries to another. Buy bags of fresh cranberries when they are on sale around the holidays and store them in the freezer. You can add the frozen berries directly to the bread batter. It bakes up beautifully and gives a nice tart kick to this sweet bread.
So the next time you find yourself in the middle of that combination of crazy wet weather + overripe bananas, just pull on some warm socks, fire up the oven, and bake some bread.
Best Banana Bread (low sugar)
Makes 2 loaves or 24 muffins
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened (Salted vs. Unsalted Butter)
1/2 c. sugar
6 ripe bananas (about 3 1/3 cup mashed)
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. sour cream
4 egg whites
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
optional: 2 T. each Chia seeds and/or flax seeds
optional: chocolate chips/chunks, whole fresh or frozen cranberries, walnuts, shredded coconut
- Beat sugar and butter in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the bananas and beat until smooth (small pieces of banana are fine). Add the milk, sour cream, and egg whites; beat until combined.
- Combine the flours, baking soda, and salt. Add to the banana mixture, stirring until just blended.
- Preheat oven to 350. Spoon the batter into a greased 9″ loaf pan or 24 muffin cups. Bake loaves at 350 for about 1 hour, muffins for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
When it rains, I’m stuck reading Richard Scarry books on repeat. But if you have the good fortune of actual adults (or even older kids) with a more advanced grasp of the English language in your home, Bananagrams (Amazon) is a fun, simple game. Playing games while eating piping hot banana bread on a rainy day? Oh man, that sounds perfect. Throw in a Chai tea, and I’ll be right over.
Looking for more ways to use up bananas?
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