Food + Drink

Goin’ Bananas

Banana bread is a pretty common thing to make when you have a couple of bananas on the kitchen counter that are simply too soft, too blackened, and look too unappealing to peel and eat. For some reason I overbuy bananas all the time so I bake banana bread pretty frequently. I’ve tried dozens of recipes but the best one I’ve found by far is from one of my favorite bakers, Flo Braker. You can find it in The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook and I’ve probably baked at least 30 loaves and probably many more using this recipe.

Although it bakes up great as written, the recipe is very forgiving and stands up to a variety of substitutions and additions. I’ve used brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. I’ve used half whole-wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. I’ve added tablespoons of flax meal, oatmeal, and wheat germ. Sometimes I use pecans, sometimes no nuts at all. Ditto with the chocolate chips (butterscotch chips are perfectly acceptable too). I’ve also traded out the buttermilk for 2% milk, 1% milk, and whole milk. One time I added diced pears with the bananas and I’ve been known to throw in dried cherries or dried cranberries. The resulting bread is always a little different in taste and texture but it is unfailingly delicious.

Try it yourself. I want to hear all about the crazy ingredients you put in and what you left out.

This version uses pecans, mini chocolate chips, flax seed, and 1/2 whole-wheat, 1/2 all-purpose flour.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
(from The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook)

This recipe is from Flo Braker who writes about baking for the newspaper.

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 medium bananas)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Adjust the rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the walnuts.

Combine the banana, eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla; add to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the loaf comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool completely.
Slice thinly to serve.

Serves 16

Amy Treadwell

Amy Treadwell

Amy Treadwell is an editor of food and lifestyle books and a lifelong home baker. She loves cookies and the holiday season in equal measure.
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  • TwinHappyJen April 30, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Well, with a couple of monkeys in the house (namely my twins, who are turning 4 tomorrow :-p), bananas go pretty quick here! But, I’ll have to try this anyway… it just sounds too good!


  • Kristine May 2, 2009 at 5:17 am

    I’m going to try this recipe today! I probably have at least 20 black bananas that fall on me every time I open my freezer, but I don’t have the heart to throw them out. Thanks for some new inspiration!


  • Monica December 14, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Love banana bread! Thx for the new twist receipe on an old fav!

    Monica Forrestall
    Travel & Food Writer
    New York, NY


  • Tula February 11, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    This is my favorite banana bread!! I have made it many times, and I recently started using 1/2 oat flour and 1/2 white flour, with great results. For some reason I like to use 3 eggs, as the recipe calls for “large” eggs, and I use eggs from a farm, so they’re not really sized. I make sure by using three. In my experience, when the top is perfect, the inside is still too gloopy (maybe because 3 eggs), but the tin foil on the top after 65 minutes does the trick. ALSO GREAT is Flo Braker’s Chocolate, Orange and Ancho Chile Cake, in the same cookbook.


  • Kathleen April 24, 2010 at 4:16 am

    What a terrific banana bread recipe! I’ll have to try this one soon. Today I made Sarah Lewis’ banana bread from ‘The bread book’, which adds apricots and glace cherries – very nice! I had to stop the kids from finishing it off too quickly, which is always a good sign. I sometimes make the bread as tiny muffins instead, which makes for easy lunch treats for the kiddies. Yum!


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