banana loaf

When I was a kid, there was nothing better than banana loaf. Or banana bread if you prefer. I like the word loaf, so that’s what I call it. I think it’s funny.

My mom would make it, not very often, and the whole house would have that special delicious smell all through it. Warm banana bread right out of the oven with some butter melted on it is one of life’s simple pleasures. If it lasts long enough to get a little dry, popping it in the toaster for a few minutes and covering it in peanut butter is a great way to finish it off. Some have even said you can make french toast out of it, but that’s ludicrous.

Warmed up with some maple syrup and cream in a bowl and you’ve got yourself a monstrous dessert.

I gave up waiting for other people to make me banana loaf. I studied the black arts of simple bread making extensively and perfected my craft over many years. This recipe is the culmination of decades of research and painstaking experimentation. I don’t want to talk about the unfinished loaves that spewed forth their uncooked innards in a sticky gooey mess all over the counter. Or the blackened crispy stuck-to-the-pan loaves that carbonized themselves into inedibility.

If you follow this, and know your oven, this will give you a perfect warm banana loaf just like mom used to make. The smell of banana loaf in the oven still takes me back to when I was a kid licking the spoon clean in mom’s kitchen.


  • 2c all purpose flour
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • ¼tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾c brown sugar
  • ½c butter
  • 1tsp vanilla extract (opt.) or 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 ripe bananas


Preheat oven to 350-360ºF. Grease a 9″x5″ bread pan with butter.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Sift or whisk them up to get them mixed. Don’t spill the flour because that shit gets on everything.

In A WHOLE OTHER BOWL cream the butter and brown sugar with a wooden spoon. You’ll need a heavy wooden spoon because creaming brown sugar and butter is hard work. I’ve broken so many spoons doing this. Get a good one. Cream it for 10 minutes. I’m not joking. Cristina Tosi of the Milkbar at Momofuku says this is the most important part. Believe her if you don’t believe me. I’m serious.

In the same bowl as the butter and sugar, add in the eggs, beaten. I guess they were in a third bowl. Then add your bananas. These bananas need to be seriously ripe. They should be black. They should be so ripe, you should fear them and wonder if they’re poison. If you want to ripen them faster, you can freeze them, but I find if you leave them frozen for too long, even in a bag, they lose their flavor. For the best results, you want your bananas ripe and fresh if that makes even a bit of sense.

Swoosh the eggs and butter and sugar and bananas around, mixing them up but don’t be afraid about banana lumps: They are flavor lumps. You can add the vanilla here if you want to. Vanilla beans are magical and add an extra mysterious crunch to the loaf. Use’em if you got’em.

Combine the buttery, sugary, bananaey, eggy goop to the flour. Mix it up so everything’s moist but again, don’t worry too much about lumps.

Pour the batter into your bread pan. Bake on a middle rack for 60-65 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

When it’s done, take it out and leave it in the pan for 5-10 minutes. After that, flop it out onto a baking rack for another 10-15 minutes to cool down. If you cut into it too soon it’ll disentegrate and break apart. I know you’re impatient, but trust me, you don’t want to ruin your loaf (oh what the hell, it’s still delicious even if it’s in chunks).


A word about ovens: Unless you’ve got a super modern, digitally-controlled oven, your heat is variable. I think mine runs a little on the low side so I heat it up to 360º and cook for about 65 minutes. Nothing like baking to really fine-tune your oven calibration.