No-Fail Banana Bread

Last week we had our first official guests come to visit us in San Francisco. Rebecca and Jason were our best eating/drinking buddies in Seattle, and we continued the tradition down here in the Bay Area. We went a wee bit crazy to say the least. During their three night stay, we hit up Russian River Brewery, Nopa, Nihon, Bourbon & BranchChile Pies & Ice Cream, and Chez Panisse–to name a few. We had a great time exploring our new city with them, but I’m still detoxing as we speak.

I bought some bananas before our guests came thinking that some fruit would help offset our eating and drinking extravaganza. Lo and behold, nobody touched them. By the time we took Jason and Rebecca to the airport, my well-intentioned bananas were looking pretty brown and generally unappetizing. This could only mean one thing: banana bread tiempo!

Everyone who loves to cook has a favorite banana bread recipe in their repertoire. I fussed around for years trying to find my idea of the perfect banana bread. The kind that is so deliciously moist and dense that it could be served as a legitimate dessert with a dollop of whipped cream. My search ended the day I found this recipe. The addition of cream fraiche (or sour cream) is completely brilliant. I haven’t tried another recipe since.

I’ve always made this recipe with good old tried and true canola oil. But coconut oil has really been having its moment lately, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Coconut oil has gotten a bad rap in the past, but minimally processed and virgin oil is said to have some very good health benefits when used in moderation. This is a great article on the topic from Melissa Clark, in case you’re curious.

If you use virgin coconut oil, like the one I bought from TJ’s, it will give off a slight coconut flavor when baked. This is great for people who love coconuts (like me!), but not so awesome if you don’t. Also, virgin coconut oil does not come in liquid form like we’re used to. You literally have to scoop it out of the jar, almost like peanut butter. When you bake with it, melt the oil and let it cool before using. This way it will get evenly distributed into the batter.

The coconut oil gave the bread a subtle, nutty complexity which I absolutely loved. Just when I didn’t think I could l love this recipe any more, coconut oil has to come and shake things up.

What do you think about using coconut oil in baked goods?

Have you used it in savory dishes too?

Some people swear by it. And based on my minimal experience, I’d say it’s pretty magical.

No-Fail Banana Bread
Adapted from Flour’s Famous Banana Bread
Yield: One Loaf

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the sides of the pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients and add walnuts if using.
  4. Pour  batter into the lined and greased loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.