I have never eaten a piece of banana bread baked by someone else I didn’t like.
And if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a little critical when it comes to food. Banana bread though, is one of those things that is just good no matter where it comes from. Whether it’s the prepackaged stuff from a grocery store, a slice from a bakery, a homemade loaf baked by grandma, or a box mix loaf whipped up for a bake sale… I like it all.
All this considered, it makes zero sense that it took me well over year to bake a decent banana bread in my own kitchen. Maybe I’m just extra critical about my own baking, but it wasn’t until about a month ago I finally created a recipe with satisfying results. Trust me, I tried all the recipes a quick Google search yields, with no luck.
Not to sound silly, but the thing about all the aforementioned banana breads I’ve eaten, is that they taste so banana-y. I couldn’t for the longest time get enough banana flavor in my loaves. I tried using more bananas, riper bananas, different sugars, more flour, butter only, oil only, melted butter, and the list goes on. Either the flavor was lacking or the texture was off.
What’s even more strange about my banana bread struggle is that one of my most regularly made recipes is for gluten free & naturally sweetened muffins I first came up with maybe three years ago. I’ve been eating those muffins for at least two breakfasts a week ever since. Why then was it so hard to make a traditional flour and sugar loaf?!
I don’t know. But the day I finally had success, I could feel it. Just looking at the batter about to be poured into the pan, I knew it was going to be everything I’d hoped for, and it was. This Chai Spiced Banana Bread I’m sharing with you today is that recipe, but with the addition of chai spices! Cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and some vanilla. It is such a subtle flavor; just enough to turn your banana bread into something a little different.
Now, the ingredients and method alone, you may be thinking this seems suspiciously like a cake recipe. I’ll admit, it walks the line. But really, what muffin or quick bread made with flour, sugar, and butter doesn’t? Moving on…
So we’ll start by creaming together butter, sugar, and a bit of oil with a mixer. Unlike with a cake, you’ll beat only until the ingredients are combined, rather than light and fluffy. It really does make a difference in the end result. Next are the eggs and a cup of mashed bananas. I am a stickler for weighing ingredients, but realize many home bakers do not do so. If you don’t have a scale, at least measure the bananas after mashing them. I only say this because I have ruined plenty of batches of banana baked goods by using too much or too little.
Once the wet ingredients are combined you’ll add the flour and spices. I like to add half with the mixer, then fold the remainder in by hand. This will further ensure the texture of your loaf is bread like, and not cakey in the slightest.
Speaking of baking failures. My great pride and joy in my kitchen (or should I say, the area of my one-room apartment with the stove…) is my spice rack. It’s beautiful carved wood, displayed on my wall. I keep all the pretty matching spice bottles alphabetized with their labels facing forward. Well, know what comes before “ginger” and looks essentially the same when you’re not paying full attention? “Garlic powder.” Don’t dump a 1/4 tsp. of garlic powder into your banana bread. That wasn’t a happy mistake.
Once I got the loaf into the oven with all the intended spices, my studio smelled incredible. It was so hard to wait until morning to slice and eat it! After all the time I spent perfecting the recipe for this Chai Spiced Banana Bread, I will be enjoying every last crumb.
Chai Spiced Banana Bread
Yields an 8×4″ loaf pan
Just as the name says, soft banana bread with warming chai spices.
- 1 ½ (180g) cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cardamom
- ¾ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- Dash of cloves
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ cup (56g) butter, softened
- 1 Tbs. canola oil
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (50g) light brown sugar
- 1 cup (225g) mashed bananas (about 2 large)
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- ½ tsp. vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 8×4″ loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt, and set aside.
In a separate bowl, use a hand mixer on medium speed to cream the butter and canola oil together, about 1 minute. Add the sugars and continue to beat until combine. Add the banana, eggs, and vanilla to the bowl. Beat on medium low just until the mixture is uniform.
Add about half the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix with the hand mixer until mostly incorporated. Turn off the mixture and switch to a rubber spatula. Mix the remaining dry ingredients into the batter by band until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a knife and inverting it onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool for two hours before slicing. This bread tastes even better after resting a day in an air tight container.