I’ve always loved banana bread, but I’ve been baking it a lot more lately. Part of that is because I have a friend who’s going through a hard time who likes it; part of that is because I’ve been testing a recipe for you, dear reader. And here it is, finally: Nutella-swirled banana bread, for those days when you need a little extra oomph with your dessert disguised as breakfast.
Banana bread is so simple to make but so good. I don’t quite understand how it exists in both of these spheres at once, but there it is. You can mix up the batter in a single bowl (unless you’re adding Nutella, so… you’ll need an extra bowl for this one; sorry). Once you’ve decided to make a loaf, it can be in the oven in ten minutes. There aren’t fifty-eleven things to clean up, and it’s not fussy about mixing method or, well, anything, really. It’s like your best friend in quick bread form. Comfy, like flannel pajamas. Sound good? Read on!
Quick Breads are Quick
I know. It’s obvious, right? But sometimes you read an “easy” cake recipe and actually you need 3 bowls and you have to separate eggs and cream butter and sugar or whip egg whites and honestly who has the energy on a weekday? That’s when quick breads are there for you.
There are standard proportions for quick breads so basically once you know those, you can make them in any flavor you like. I’m saving that for another post, though, since bananas count sort of as fat, liquid, and sugar all in one. They kind of weird things up. But this recipe does follow the typical quick bread pattern of combining the liquid ingredients (including sugar – yeah, I know, but it’s hygroscopic) and then stirring in the flour.
A quick (ha) note on the order: The reason you wait until the end to combine the flour with liquid ingredients is that flour + liquid = gluten begins to develop. For something like a chewy loaf of sourdough, you want to develop lots of gluten, which is why you knead the dough. The more you work with it, the stronger the strands of gluten (wheat protein) become. For cakes, quick breads, muffins, and their ilk, though… well, chewy isn’t what we’re going for. So you stir just to combine, usually – sometimes a little more to add structure, generally not.
There’s a bit of extra stirring here to add the Nutella, which isn’t a big worry. Just don’t go overboard with it and stir for ten minutes or anything, right?
Stand Mixer, Food Processor, or Hand Mixing?
Typically, quick breads are just mixed all together in one bowl and use baking soda (or baking powder) for leavening. So there’s no need for a stand mixer or even a hand mixer, usually. I make this recipe in my manual food processor from Tupperware (that’s my sales link, by the way); it’s easy to get the bananas completely smooth that way, since I prefer no chunks of banana in my bread. (For me, food is 75% about texture, I think, so this is important.) But you can make it with a potato masher or, heck, a fork, and it’ll be fine.
The food processor is pretty efficient at combining the rest of the ingredients, because this is a reasonably thick batter, so you can make the whole thing in one. That doesn’t work for all cakes, but when it does… why not? (I used to be very uptight about this, and couldn’t actually imagine using a food processor for anything besides, like, making hummus. Times have changed, mostly because I no longer have the time to worry about it.)
Really, any method you use will result in a delicious loaf of Nutella-swirled banana bread, so don’t stress and just do whatever’s easiest for you! Please note that in the animated gif above, I decided, for inexplicable reasons, to stir the Nutella in with a spatula. It would’ve made a lot more sense to add it to the part in the Power Chef food processor, eh? Sleep deprivation. Which just goes to show you can make amazing banana bread even if you’re really, really tired. See? Scroll down for the recipe!
Nutella-Swirled Banana Bread
This is a fancy-looking, sort of special-but-still-easy banana bread for any occasion.
- 3 ripe bananas look for brown spots
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter (85g) melted and cooled
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100 grams granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
- 180 grams all-purpose flour (1-1/2 cups)
- 150 grams Nutella (about 1/2 cup)
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C, gas mark 4). Grease an 8x4" loaf pan.
Mash the bananas or whiz them in the food processor, if you're using one. You can leave some chunks if you like that. I prefer a smooth puree.
Add the melted butter to the bananas and stir or pulse to combine.
Add the baking soda, salt, egg, vanilla extract, and sugar. If you are mixing by hand, you may want to whisk the egg together (like you were making scrambled eggs) before adding it. If you're using a food processor, it doesn't matter too much.
Stir or pulse until everything is combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl or food processor and give another stir just to make sure.
Add the flour - in two batches if you're mixing by hand; I just throw it all in to the food processor. Again, scrape down the sides to make sure it all gets in there. Stir just until it's a uniform mixture without dry flour sitting around.
Divide the batter in half. Stir the Nutella into one portion of the batter until it's mostly combined. Don't worry if there are a few streaks left.
Put the batters into the prepared pan by alternating spoon- or spatula-fuls of each batter. I just kind of blob them in there with no real pattern or plan.
Take a butter knife and run it through the batter (I go longways in the pan) a few times to make spiffy swirls.
Bake for 45-60 minutes in the preheated oven. A toothpick (or piece of dry spaghetti) inserted into the middle should come out clean when it's done. The bread doesn't really start to come away from the sides of the pan until it's pretty overbaked!
Cool for 10-15 minutes in the loaf pan, then run a butter knife backwards around the edge and turn out onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely before eating. I know, it's rough. But it'll be much better if you let the crumb set!
It helps to have an oven thermometer so you know whether your oven is at the temperature you expect. Even then, you may have hot spots in your oven. If you already know you do, you may want to rotate the bread halfway through. I don't find I need to - it's not as sensitive as, say, cookies.
I prefer baking by weight but find butter easier to measure in tablespoons. Sorry 😉