There’s really nothing very fancy about a loaf of classic high altitude banana bread. Sure, you could add a streusel topping (a delicious option), or a handful of chocolate chips, or drizzle it with icing. You could swirl in some Nutella, or spread the slices with butter or jam. A trend these days is to slice a whole banana lengthwise, and then bake half the banana on top of the batter for a pretty presentation.
But a really good banana bread recipe that’s moist and flavorful doesn’t need anything else to recommend itself. A thick slice of plain and simple banana bread alongside a cup of coffee makes me pretty happy. My high altitude recipe is quick and easy to make, incredibly moist and flavorful, and lightly spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.
Looking for more recipes like this one? Don’t miss this banana bread crumb coffee cake, caramelized banana toffee ice cream, and oatmeal with caramelized bourbon bananas and hazelnuts.
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Bananas. With three bananas in one loaf, the bananas are the star ingredient, as they should be. If my bananas are on the small side and don’t fill up 1 1/2 cups after I mash them, I’ll often substitute some applesauce, or extra sour cream (if I don’t have any more bananas to use).
Sour Cream. Adds moisture, flavor, and acidity, which helps the bread rise when it reacts with the leavening.
Butter. The butter keeps the bread moist and delicious. You can also substitute vegetable oil for the melted butter, if you prefer.
Sugar. Sugar sweetens the banana bread, of course, but it also adds moisture. I use a combination of both granulated sugar and dark brown sugar.
Eggs. Eggs add richness and structure to the batter.
Flour. All-purpose flour strengthens the batter so that it holds together as it rises.
Baking Soda. Leavens the batter, making it rise.
Salt. Balances the sweetness.
Spices. You can add any spices that you like – I spice mine lightly with a little cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. The spices shouldn’t be too overpowering, but just enough to complement all the other flavors in the banana bread.
If you want a simple and easy to make banana bread recipe that also tastes amazing, you’ve found the perfect recipe! This banana bread couldn’t be easier to make.
Whisk together the liquid ingredients.
Melt the butter, and then whisk together all the liquid ingredients in a large bowl until smooth. Depending on how well you mashed your bananas, you may have some banana lumps throughout, and that’s perfectly fine. The mashed bananas can be smooth or lumpy, and it’ll work out either way.
Sift the dry ingredients.
Now sift the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir just until moistened. You don’t want to over-mix your batter, or your banana bread will be tough instead of tender and fluffy.
Before baking your banana bread, prep your loaf pan by lining it with a piece of parchment paper. The paper should hang over two sides, so that you can easily lift the bread out of the pan while it’s warm. This is called a parchment paper “sling”.
Classic banana bread has a long bake time – about 55 minutes. The top will be cracked and golden brown, and inside the bread will be so moist and delicious.
Add Nuts or Chocolate Chips.
I didn’t add any nuts or chocolate chips to my banana bread, because I kind of prefer it plain, and my boys had no complaints. It’s great on its own, or spread with a little nut butter or jam. But I wouldn’t turn down a slice of banana bread that’s studded with dark chocolate chips or chopped pecans. Both complement this classic banana bread recipe perfectly.
Try it with a Crumb Topping.
What’s better than buttery, crumbly streusel topping? It adds a crunchy texture and salty-sweet flavor that’s just wonderful. I recommend the crumb topping recipe from my pumpkin streusel bread.
Drizzle with Icing.
A pretty loaf bread drizzled with icing is irresistible. Make a simple powdered sugar glaze and pour it over the top. Vanilla or maple icing would both be great. For a fancy finish, sprinkle the icing with chopped nuts or dried banana slices.
Double the Recipe.
My boys couldn’t get enough of this banana bread, and after it was gone, I made a second loaf to hide away in the freezer until later. Now I plan ahead so I can have enough over-ripe bananas to just double the recipe. That way we can have one loaf of bread to enjoy right away, and another to tuck away in the freezer for later.
Bake it in a Showstopper Loaf Pan.
I recently bought the Nordic Ware Fluted Loaf Pan, and I’m completely in love with it. It makes the most gorgeous loaf breads and cakes, and can turn something simple into a showstopper. Just look at the pumpkin bread I baked in this pan. Isn’t it stunning?
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High Altitude Banana Bread
All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet. See FAQs for adjusting to higher or lower elevations.
- Standard Sized Loaf Pan (5×9 inches)
- 1 ½ cups mashed over-ripe bananas (about 3 large or 4 medium bananas)
- ½ cup sour cream
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp ground cardamom
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper so that the paper hangs over two sides, and spray with non-stick spray.
- In a bowl, mash the bananas. Whisk in the sour cream, melted butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until smooth.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir just until moistened. If adding chocolate chips or chopped nuts, fold them in now.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake on the center rack for about 55 minutes, until the top is cracked and a cake tester or sharp knife comes out clean or with moist crumbs clinging to it.
- Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then lift the bread out by the paper and set on a cooling rack to cool for several hours before slicing. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days.
- Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Banana bread can also be baked in advance, wrapped in plastic wrap, and frozen for 3-6 months.
- Chocolate chips and/or chopped pecans would be great in this recipe – about 1/2 cup of each.
- If you like your banana bread with crumb topping, I’d recommend this recipe for streusel topping.