The Ultimate Banana Bread Recipe

This is the one recipe in my first cookbook that I use all the time.

By Robb Walsh February 20, 2014

"That's the best banana bread I've ever had—don't tell my mom I said so," said the guy who was fixing my computer. I hear that a lot. Fresh out of the oven, this banana bread is hard to top.

The recipe comes from chef Jay McCarthy, who grew up in Jamaica, and has spent most of his career in Texas and Colorado. It appears in the cookbook I co-authored with McCarthy in 1994, Traveling Jamaica with Knife, Fork & Spoon

While I was researching the book, McCarthy taught me about bananas. At the Black River farmers market in Southwestern Jamaica, the chef introduced me to the "gros michel," a big fat banana that was once the most popular variety in Jamaica, until the 1950s, when it was almost completely wiped out by a banana plant blight and replaced by the more disease-resistant "cavendish" cultivars we eat today.

In the 1950s, the gros michel was also the most common banana in the United States where it was known as the "Big Mike." The sweet and custardy gros michel was a much tastier banana than the skinny cavendish.

Whenever the bananas start turning black at my house, I whip up a batch of banana bread. If there are only one or two, I peel the black bananas and stick them in the freezer in a plastic bag until I have enough for a batch. I usually make this recipe with pecans, but I substituted almonds this time.

I sure wish I could make this banana bread with gros michels!

"Badda" Banana Nut Bread
(from Traveling Jamaica with Knife, Fork & Spoon)

There ain't nuttin' "badda" than this sweet and moist version of banana bread that's loaded with raisins and nuts. Great with Blue Mountain coffee!

  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 or 4 bananas, very ripe, mashed [1 1/2 cups] 
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pecans or almonds, chopped very coarse 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Cream butter and sugar. Beat egg well and add to the butter/sugar mixture. Add mashed bananas and beat all together well. To the flour add the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add banana mix to the flour mix and stir in the milk and vanilla. Add almonds and raisins last. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes until the edges pull away from the pan. Continue cooling on a wire rack for another 10 minutes or until the loaf can be cut without falling apart. Serve warm. Wrap the leftover loaf and store in the bread box. Will keep for several days.

Yield : 1 loaf

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