Cheap Recipe: Tasty, Wholesome Banana Bread for Toddlers (& Adults, too!)

9 Feb

For a printable version of this recipe with complete ingredients listing, click here.

This fast, hot breakfast is packed with goodness!

My three-year old, Jamie, is extremely hard to please when it comes to food. Whatever’s for dinner, he doesn’t like it.

I’ve even seen this kid turn his nose up at candy before, just to be contrary. It’s sick, I know!

Luckily for me, he thinks banana bread is a “bald cupcake” when I make it in my mini-loaf pans. Luckily for him, this version packs three kinds of fruit, whole wheat flour, nuts and even an extra egg.

For those of you counting along at home, that’s fiber, potassium, vitamin C, whole grain, and two sources of protein! Not too shabby for a bald cupcake!

(I will admit this wonderfully moist version of banana bread is much more decadent using all white flour and swapping the no-sugar added applesauce for a big lump of apple butter in the batter, but this version is still certainly above-par as far as banana bread recipes go.)

A brief word about bread pans…

This is Jamie eating his SECOND mini-loaf of banana bread in a row. He even ate a third helping at Grandma's an hour later! And look at Baby Oliver, thinking, "Man, I wish I were old enough to snag a bite of that!"

Chef’s Note: I must also briefly profess my love for the mini-loaf pan. We have had banana bread for breakfast exponentially more often since I bought my mini-loaf pan because it makes baking bread a quick task instead of something you have to wait and wait for until everyone’s given in and filled up on cereal.

(In fact, I baked TWO different types of homemade bread on Sunday–one for breakfast, the other at dinner time–using my mini-loaf pan! How often would that normally happen with hour-or-more bake times per recipe in a large loaf pan? And yes, I could just use little muffin tins, but mini loaves are a little bit larger, making them more practical for bread portions. Plus, they just look more formal and cute as all-get-out!)

When Good Fruit Goes Bad…

Begin with four overripe bananas. If the ‘nanners aren’t at least partially brown, do not even attempt. It will make dry bread and no one will think you are amazing. Save your talents for another day when the fruit is truly going bad.

Make sure your bananas are AT LEAST this brown.

In a large mixing bowl, soften 1/3 cup butter or shortening (it’s okay to nuke it if it’s coming straight out of the fridge). Add 3/4 cup sugar (or homemade vanilla sugar!), toss in those banana chunks and start mashing.

Cut shortening into small pats to mix more quickly.

To the banana mixture, add at least 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 eggs. (You can make it with just one egg, but I like the added protein. I also really like vanilla.)

Take half an orange, grate the zest (peel) into the mixture, and squeeze the juice in while you’re at it. (You can use up to the whole orange if you want a zingier flavor in the finished product. You can also substitute a lemon if you don’t have an orange.)

Sad but true: If your banana chunks don't mash easily, the bread will not be very moist.

Stir in 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well.

Love my rotary grater!

Next, dump in 8 ounces (1 cup) applesauce (regular or no-sugar-added variety, your choice) and stir again.

At this point, you can either use 2 cups all-purpose white flour (tastes better), or combine 1 cup white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour (won’t send you to an early grave). Your decision.

Blend the flour into the batter. If desired, add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts to the batter and stir.

Batter will be stiff and sticky.

Coat 8 mini-loaf wells or one large loaf or Bundt pan with nonstick spray, being sure to coat both the bottom and the sides. Pour the batter into the wells/pan and place in oven. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes for mini loaves (about 20 min for regular-sized

The speed of the mini loaf pan will dazzle you.

 cupcake muffins), 45-55 minutes for a Bundt, or 60-70 minutes for a full-sized loaf pan.

Remove from heat when tops are golden and loaves feel firm but springy. While loaves are hot and still down in the pan wells, coat tops with additional butter. (This helps make the cooled tops get that delightful sticky texture.)

Spread butter while tops are still very hot.

Once tops are buttered, use fork or other utensil to gently remove the banana bread from the pan. It may feel a little spongey right after you’ve buttered the hot loaves, but this won’t last. It will be perfect, you’ll see.

Now there's a happy eater!

Place the hot loaves on wire rack to cool. Wrap individually any loaves/muffins you’re not eating right away in plastic wrap to contain moisture.

Now sit back and watch your picky kids gorge themselves!

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