Banana Bread {Caramelized Bananas + Brown Butter}

Banana Bread-8Banana Bread: a timeless classic. Do you prefer banana bread for breakfast or as a snack? It’s filling, either way, and satisfies a sweet tooth.

Banana BreadI have made banana bread variations in the past with jazzy accessories like peanut butter ribbons and chocolate chip studs, but here I was looking to just change up this staple with a few moderate adaptations. I found a great balance between Run-of-the-Mill and Does-this-Even-Still-Qualify-as-Banana-Bread? with these adaptations: brown butter, a caramelized banana, some whole wheat flour, and a splash of bourbon. {To be honest, I don’t know how much the bourbon adds, but liquor is always fun to cook with if you have it on hand.}

Banana Bread-10I wish I could impart to you the *amazing* aroma that the combination of brown butter and caramelized banana make. My kitchen smells a-m-a-z-i-n-g … even in the prep stage.

Banana Bread-5This recipe is appropriately dense and moist, and pretty forgiving. Just don’t over-mix it – as long as all of the ingredients are incorporated, you’re good to go. This treat travels well. Wrap it whole until you get where you are going and bring a plastic knife with you … I am always looking for snacks I can easily transport to work for a treat for colleagues – this one is next on my list.

Banana Bread-2Let’s talk about old bananas for a minute. No picture to illustrate – in my opinion, old bananas are not appetizing to look at. I thought the bananas I used this time would be pushing the boundaries of “acceptable” old bananas – but they just continued to get better, and add great flavor. And the bananas I used this time really pushed the boundaries of acceptable old bananas. Anyone who bakes with bananas knows that they just improve with age. I have been disappointed on more than one occasion to find only perfectly ripe bananas in my fruit bowl when the baking mood struck (although microwaving unpeeled ripe bananas for 20-30 seconds is helpful in a pinch). Once bananas are so fragrant that you’re worried about them, you can keep them in the fridge (in their peel) or in the freezer (unpeeled, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap) for even longer. I keep a few peeled, roughly chopped bananas in my freezer for baking and smoothies at all times.

Banana Bread-9

Banana Bread {Caramelized Bananas + Brown Butter}
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 T dark brown sugar
  • 3 very ripe bananas {1 chopped or diced; 2 mashed}
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ c dark brown sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 T bourbon {optional}
  • ½ c buttermilk*
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • ¼ t baking soda
  • ½ t baking powder
  • ½ t kosher salt
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  1. Heat oven to 350 and spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Make the "brown butter" by heating the stick of butter in a small heavy pot or saucepan over medium heat. Cook until it begins to brown and smell awesome. The butter will foam (first loosely, then densely). Once it starts to foam pretty heavily, stir with a silicone spatula, constantly scraping the bottom of the pot. Brown specks will develop in the bottom of the pan - cook for a minute or two after the specks start to appear. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool a bit.
  3. Place 1 T dark brown sugar in a skillet over medium heat. When the sugar starts to melt, stir with a silicone spatula, and add the chopped banana. Cook until the banana pieces are coated in sugar, and they begin to brown. And also smell awesome. Remove from the pan to cool.
  4. In a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer), beat the eggs, and then add the ¾ c dark brown sugar. Beat until combined. Add the two mashed bananas and mix until incorporated. Add the brown butter, vanilla, and bourbon (if using). Mix only until combined.
  5. Add the all-purpose flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix only until combined.
  6. Add half of the buttermilk. Mix only until combined.
  7. Add the whole wheat flour. Mix only until combined.
  8. Add the rest of the buttermilk. {You know what comes next!} Mix only until combined.
  9. Stir in the caramelized bananas.
  10. Pour the batter into the loaf pan, and bake until the batter domes and cracks, and feels firm to the touch. Check it at 50 minutes, and expect it to need another 5-7 minutes after that.
* I never buy a carton of buttermilk; instead, use skim milk and a fresh lemon. I use a Pyrex measuring glass, and place 1 to 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice in the glass, and then fill it up to the desired total amount with milk (here, I would be using just under ½ c of milk). Let it sit until it curdles and comes to room temperature, about 5-10 minutes.

Banana Bread-3p.s. JDC, I hope you are enjoying this very loaf of banana bread right now!

Adapted from:


  1. debbie gray says

    awesome recipe Becky, can’t wait to make it. LOVE the buttermilk tip, I hate dumping all that unused buttermilk down the sink.

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