Ain’t broke? Don’t fix it. That’s the idea behind this banana bread, which includes two ingredients recently featured in a batch of oatmeal cookies–brown butter and ginger. Fresh ginger, of course, because ground ginger just wouldn’t pack enough punch. Everyone has little secrets with a recipe, and this one is full of specific ingredients for specific reasons. There are no add-ins like nuts, chocolate chips, or dried fruits, but the brown butter and ginger are just two of the special ingredients that make this one a gem.
Most banana bread recipes call for butter or vegetable oil, but when it comes to banana bread, butter is the way to go. And if you’re going to bake with butter, you can’t lose with brown butter. A little brown sugar also adds an essence of molasses, and of course, there’s the combination of fresh ginger and pumpkin pie spice. The latter often includes cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and sometimes nutmeg, and each one of those spices is great for a sweet quick bread. Let’s not forget the brown butter, with its nutty aroma and taste. There’s Greek yogurt, which keeps the bread moist in light of the addition of spelt flour. Why spelt flour? Well, it’s a healthy ancient grain that is great for breads–even quick breads–and it’s a fine substitute for wheat flour. If you’re baking with spelt, the key is to balance the batter with enough moisture. The yogurt, brown sugar and mashed bananas will do just that.
One more thing to note. This banana bread may be slightly different in terms of technique. Most recipes are a two bowl wonder–sometimes one, if you’re that kind of person. This one requires a couple bowls, plus a couple more. It also takes a few more minutes to put together. The butter has to brown and cool. Ginger and vanilla steep in the butter. The bananas are “creamed” with the butter and sugars, and then you have to fold in the Greek yogurt. As we all know, a number of recipes that require more love and attention are worth it.
- Floured baking spray
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled & finely minced
- 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped*
- 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup spelt flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 4 very, very ripe medium bananas, peeled
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, at room temperature
- Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9″x5″x3″ loaf pan with floured baking spray.
- Place the butter into a small sauce pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it turns golden brown in color and smells nutty, approximately 5-6 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve into a heat-resistant bowl to remove any large browned bits. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes, then stir in the ginger and vanilla. Allow to cool for another 30 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine both sugars, browned butter mixture, and bananas at medium speed until thickened and ribbony, approximately 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, and add the eggs, one at a time.
- Lightly beat the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just combined, then fold in the Greek yogurt. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 70-75 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan and place on a cooling rack. Dust with powdered sugar once cooled.