more on the wonders of buttermilk

the virtues of buttermilk

I am very particular about my bananas. There’s normally a three day window when I think they are perfect for eating. Too soon and they’re a little too firm and green. Too late and they’re mushy, mealy, and too sweet. But it’s my go-to fruit and I almost always have some brown bananas that need to be used up. Banana bread is an obvious choice and for years, I used this recipe, which yielded a moist, dense loaf.

Several weeks ago, I had some buttermilk to use up and decided to test out a banana bread recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks of late. OMG. So good. So moist. So light and tender. It is now my go-to recipe for banana bread and I’ve made it several times since. The recipe is plenty good as is, but along the way, I’ve made a few tweaks. I’ve added walnuts (banana bread isn’t banana bread to me without nuts) and I’ve also made a variation (pictured above) with an alternate topping, based on an old streusel recipe from the Joy of Cooking. The nuts, in my opinion, are not optional but the either of the two toppings works great. I’m providing the recipe as is (with the walnut addition); the recipe for the alternate streusel topping follows. Happy Friday!

Tessy’s Banana Bread
adapted from Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

For the topping:

1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

3. Stir in the melted butter and the buttermilk. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute. Add the banana, vanilla, and walnuts. Stir until well combined. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.

4. Make a topping by mashing together the tablespoon of cold butter with the tablespoon of flour, the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Distribute the topping evenly over the batter. OR make streusel topping (recipe follows) and distribute streusel topping over the batter.

5. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cake tester or toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut and serve from the pan.

Streusel Topping
adapted from The Joy of Cooking
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Blend with fork or pulse in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.


3 responses to “more on the wonders of buttermilk

  1. Completely agree regarding nuts. Sounds awesome and I love trying new banana bread recipes. Question… did you substitute the same amount of yogurt (1/3 cup) for the buttermilk? Plain? Vanilla?

    • Woops! Sorry if I wasn’t clear…I’ve made this with buttermilk and with yogurt, depending on what’s around the house. The original recipe in the book calls for buttermilk. I think I prefer it with buttermilk but yogurt’s fine too. If you use yogurt, use PLAIN yogurt and 1/2 cup instead of 1/3 cup. If you make it, let me know what you think!

  2. Well… I can do this. i am going to try is as soon as i get home.

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