However.. I only like bananas if they’re a certain texture and ripeness.
Those bananas that are just a little too spotty and are softer are no bueno. They make the mashiest noises when you eat them, and those mashy noises are basically the fruit-eating version of nails on a chalkboard. But bananas that are bright yellow with nary a spot in sight are just perfect. I love slicing them up on yogurt parfaits, eating them plain, chocolate dipping them, or throwing them into smoothies.
But did you know that the darker the banana, the better the bread? Not only are darker bananas easier to mash (they’re virtually mashed as you peel them!) but they have more sweetness and are absolutely perfect for baking banana bread. So as much as I hate it, I usually let my bananas get spotty and dark brown before I mash ’em up and toss them in this banana bread. Which, by the way, is the best. No, seriously.
Most bananas breads I’ve tried are way too crumbly and dry, which is basically a disgrace to carbohydrate-y products everywhere. Carbs should be soft and tender, not crumble at the mere touch. That, or the banana flavor isn’t really there. Or the bread isn’t spiced well, giving kind of a bland flavor and texture. I guess you could say I’m well versed in eating terrible banana breads. I consider it a life’s accomplishment.
But this banana bread is super soft and tender, moist without being wet, and definitely far from dry & crumbly. It’s perfectly spiced with cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg, is jam-packed with fresh, sweet banana flavor, and is topped with an irresistible, crunchy brown sugar & cinnamon crust that lends a crispy crunch to every bite. And it has my secret ingredient: pudding! Yep, instant pudding mix is tossed into the batter to give this an extra sweetness, extra moisture, and great texture. Scouts honor — you will insist on tossing in a box of pudding mix in your quick breads from now on! The result is tremendous 🙂 If nuts are your jam, feel free to toss in some chopped walnuts or pecans for added crunch and texture. Or if you prefer it glazed or frosted, omit the brown sugar topping for a thick helping of cream cheese frosting.
*slightly adapted from Sally
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1 & ¼ cups brown sugar, divided
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup Greek yogurt (I use banana flavor, but plain or vanilla would work)
- 2 cups mashed banana (about 3-4 small/medium bananas)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cinnamon, divided
- Pinch nutmeg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Pinch salt
- 1 box instant vanilla or banana pudding mix (just the dry mix)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally spray a 9" loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the butter and ¾ cup of the brown sugar until blended. Whisk in the eggs, yogurt, banana and vanilla until combined. Lastly, add 1 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, baking soda, salt and pudding mix, careful not to overmix. Your batter may be thick and clumpy, but that's okay. Overmixing will lead to tough bread!
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining brown sugar and cinnamon with a spoon until combined. Liberally sprinkle the mixture on top of the banana bread, patting it down if necessary.
- Bake the bread for 30 minutes, then tent the bread with foil (which helps prevent the crust from burning and top + sides from cooking too quickly) very loosely. Continue baking for an additional 30 minutes.
- Allow the bread to cool completely before cutting into slices.
I really, really LOVE that this recipe uses pudding mix. Pudding is my secret ingredient in all of my cakes because of the awesome, fluffy texture and soft, moist crumb it gives baked goods. Pudding does the same thing in this bread recipe and eliminates the possibility of tough, dry bread. I like using banana flavored pudding, but French vanilla would work well, too, or butterscotch if you’re feeling feisty 🙂 again, feel free to add chopped nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate chips to the batter, or omit the crusty top in favor of a simple glaze or thick icing. It’s completely customizable to your preferences, but I happen to love the thick, crunchy, sugary crust from the brown sugar and cinnamon.
Have a fantastical day!!