Season: All | Active Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes, plus time to cool | Difficulty: 1 (Very Easy)
This straightforward banana bread perfectly illustrates the concept that the simplest things are often the hardest. Even though it only has a few main ingredients—ripe bananas, Greek yogurt, coconut oil, almond butter—I found that even slight variations in proportions produced very different results.
It took lots of tweaking to strike the right balance between the elements, but I think this version hits all the notes: tender, moist, and pleasantly sweet but with a slight savory edge from the almond butter.
Makes 1 standard loaf
Special Equipment: 4½ × 8½-inch loaf pan, measured from the top
Coconut oil for the pan
3 tablespoons plus ⅓ cup almond butter (4.6 oz / 130g) ①
1 tablespoon plus ⅔ cup sugar (5 oz / 143g)
1 teaspoon plus ½ cup virgin coconut oil (4 oz / 115g), gently warmed to liquefy ②
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour ③ (6.1 oz / 173g)
1 teaspoon baking powder (0.14 oz / 4g)
1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (0.11 oz / 3g)
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 large eggs (3.5 oz / 100g), cold from the refrigerator
1 cup mashed banana (8 oz / 227g), from about 2 very ripe large bananas ④
⅓ cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (2.8 oz / 80g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup unsalted roasted almonds (optional), coarsely chopped (2.1 oz / 60g)
Preheat the oven and prepare the pan: Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of the loaf pan with coconut oil. Line the bottom and two longer sides with a piece of parchment paper, leaving an overhang of an inch or two on each side, and set the pan aside.
Mix the almond butter swirl: In a small bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons of the almond butter, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and 1 teaspoon of the coconut oil until smooth. Set the almond butter mixture aside.
Mix the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cardamom. Set aside.
Mix the wet ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs to break up the yolks and whites. Add the remaining ⅔ cup sugar (4.6 oz / 130g) and whisk vigorously until the mixture is smooth and slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Add the mashed banana, Greek yogurt, vanilla, remaining ⅓ cup almond butter (2.9 oz / 83g), and ½ cup coconut oil (3.9 oz / 110g) and whisk vigorously until the mixture is smooth (some banana lumps are okay).
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry: Pour the banana mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture and whisk gently just until you have a smooth batter with no dry spots. Add the almonds (if using) and fold the batter with a flexible spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated.
Fill the pan and make the swirl topping: Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Dollop teaspoons of the reserved almond butter mixture all across the top of the batter and then use a toothpick or the tip of a paring knife to drag figure eights across the surface, making a swirl pattern.
Bake and cool: Bake until the top is risen and split and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Remove the banana bread from the oven and set aside to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes, then use a paring knife or small offset spatula to cut between the cake and the pan along the shorter sides. Use the parchment paper to lift out the banana bread and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. ⑤
The banana bread, well wrapped and stored at room temperature, will keep up to 4 days.
① Use an all-natural brand of almond butter and thoroughly stir it to incorporate the oil and solids before measuring it out for this recipe.
② Use refined coconut oil if you don’t like the taste of coconut and prefer a more neutral flavor in the bread.
③ You can swap out half of the all-purpose flour for an equal amount of whole wheat flour. The loaf will be slightly denser, but also nuttier and more complex in flavor.
④ The banana bread needs the additional sweetness of truly overripe bananas, so let them sit on your counter for several days until they have lots of blackened spots.
⑤ For a snack, try griddling slices of the banana bread in a pan with more coconut oil, then slather with almond butter and top with flaky salt.