SMS: Mom’s Banana Apple Bread

Mom's Banana Apple Bread

In the dedication of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, Melissa Murphy candidly writes, “To my mom, who has been with me to hold my hand every step of the way.” With a phenomenal mom, who has dedicated her life to nurturing, loving, and supporting her daughters, I am blessed to say that I share Melissa’s sentiment wholeheartedly. As my best friend, guardian angel, constant companion, and number one fan, she is so much more than just my mom. An exceptional role model for leading a beautiful life, her generosity and deeply compassionate spirit shine through in everything she does, especially taking care of me. When I’ve faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles, my mom has stood by my side and inspired me to keep pushing forward, even when I was ready to surrender. She can brighten my darkest days with her smile, and dedicates her boundless energy to always being there for me, no matter what. Her unconditional love and constant support give me strength, and because she believes in me, I know that I can achieve my dreams. My mom seizes every opportunity to show how much she cares, and in return, it is a true pleasure to present her with some of her favorite homemade treats from the kitchen. While she raves over just about everything I make, one of her all time favorites is this outstanding and unique banana bread. Delectably tender and exceedingly moist, this banana bread, studded with caramelized chunks of apple and delicately spiced with the perfect combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, is an elevated adaptation of a classic and a bona fide showstopper. It is definitely deserving of its recipe title: Mom’s Banana Apple Bread.

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Banana bread is a sweet cake-like quick bread, whose main ingredient is mashed bananas. Utilizing a chemical leavener such as baking soda and/or powder, quick breads are so named because they are “quick” acting and begin rising the moment the wet ingredients are added to the dry. Quick breads were developed at the end of the 18th century in America after pearlash, a preceding leavening agent that produced carbon dioxide gas in dough to produce rise, was discovered and popularized. Evidently, banana bread first originated from 18th century housewives experimenting in the kitchen with the new ingredient. When baking soda and baking powder grew to be widely used in the 1930’s, banana bread became a standard feature in American cookbooks, and was first included in the 1933 edition of the Pillsbury’s Balanced Recipes cookbook. But it was the home baking revival of the 1960s, combined with the simplicity and ease of its recipe that resulted in the spread of banana bread’s fame. Multiple variations of the quick bread were developed at that time, featuring a variety of mix-ins including additional fruits and nuts.

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Banana bread recipes typically call for one of two possible mixing methods: the two-bowl or muffin method, and the creaming method. With the muffin method, all the dry and wet ingredients are stirred together separately, and then they are quickly and gingerly mixed together, leaving a slightly lumpy batter, sometimes with some streaks of flour remaining. This method results in a texture with larger and more irregular air holes throughout. Alternatively, the creaming method calls for creaming the fat with the sugar until light and fluffy, followed by the addition of the remaining ingredients, which gives a different, cake-like texture. Mom’s Apple Banana Bread utilizes the latter method, and certainly has a characteristically delicate, tight crumb.

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Baking a loaf and enjoying a slice of this bread is the perfect way to celebrate National Banana Lover’s Day, which just happens to be this week, on August 27th! The banana doesn’t get much attention or respect as a fruit, but as a baker, I appreciate many of its qualities. Available year round, reasonably priced, easy to peel, and generally of consistent quality, the banana is a highly underrated ingredient. Most importantly, the color of its skin and the firmness of the flesh reveal its inner sweetness- an attribute not shared by many other fruits. Did you know that bananas are picked green when they’re hard and relatively flavorless? As time passes, the peel transforms from bright yellow to spotted brown, to nearly completely brown, and the flesh continues to become softer and sweeter. So don’t throw away those overripe bananas- they are ideal and arguably essential for delicious banana bread!

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Not in the mood to whip up a loaf right now? No problem. Just slip them into a plastic bag and place them into the freezer for later use. You can also peel and mash them, (optionally stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice for each banana to prevent them from turning color), and freeze in an airtight container or bag. Your ripe-and-ready-to-go bananas will keep about six months in the freezer. Have the opposite problem- a craving for banana bread but green bananas on your counter? Check out this website recommended by my dear friend Hanaâ of the fabulous blog, Hanaâ’s Kitchen, which details a number of ways to hasten the ripening process.

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It is my pleasure, as host, to present this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays’ recipe, and I hope it becomes a family favorite for you as well! Thank you to all the amazing “SMS bakettes” who baked along with me- please check out our blogroll to explore all of their incredible sites and find out what they did with the recipe. The kind words and support they offer each week means the world to me, especially as a newbie blogger, and I’m so lucky to be a part of such an outstanding group! But most importantly, thanks to my mom, for never letting go of my hand.

Mom’s Banana Apple Bread- makes one 1 1/2-quart loaf pan
from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy

For the apples:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the banana bread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups very ripe mashed bananas (2 to 3)

Before you start:
Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 1 1/2-quart loaf pan.

To make the apples:
Preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and brown sugar and heat until bubbling. Add the apples and cinnamon and sauté until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

To make the banana bread:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. In a small bowl, combine the orange juice and vanilla.
4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the orange juice mixture, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each flour addition. Stir in the mashed bananas until combined. Then stir in the reserved apples.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool further.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The banana bread keeps well wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Defrost (still wrapped) at room temperature.

Pro Tip: If your bananas are black before you are ready to bake, peel them, puree them, and store them in an airtight plastic container in your freezer. You can add more to the container whenever you like; the bananas keep a very long time. When you are ready to bake, just defrost them and get on with it.

Pretty Slick: If after a few days, the banana bread starts to get dry, toast a slice and spread some soft butter on top. It’s great this way with your morning coffee or afternoon tea.

Joy’s Tips:
*For the apples: Instead of chopping both, I chop one (in very small chunks) and shred the other on a box grater. The chopped apple still gives you the interesting texture and bites of tender caramelized appley goodness, while the shredded apple sort of melts into the bread and adds to its incredible moisture. I still saute both in the butter and brown sugar, and add any accumulated juices from the shredded apple. Beware of stirring in apple chunks that are too large- their weight causes them to sink to the bottom of the batter, and you end up with an apple layer of sorts at the base of the loaf. Still delicious, but not ideal- to have it well distributed, make sure your apple chunks stay pretty dainty!

*For the bananas: I recommend using the measured amount rather than just 2 or 3. I always seem to need more bananas to make the required measurement than are recommended (and I don’t think my bananas are particularly small). You definitely don’t want to skimp on this central ingredient for the overall flavor of your finished loaf!

*My loaf usually requires an additional 3-5 minutes for a toothpick to come out clean. I test at the 1 hour mark, and if it’s not done, I cover with foil to prevent over-browning and return it to the oven. Just be aware that your time may vary depending on your oven.

I hope you enjoy!

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44 responses

  1. Your mom is blessed to have such a wonderful daughter like you. I love all the sweet things you said about her. Your bread looks outstanding and I love all your recommendations at the end. Thanks for the great choice of recipes this week. I love this bread and will make it again and again!

  2. Thanks for hosting this week Joy! Your bread looks terrific! I loved this recipe and stuck some of my muffins in the freezer so I could keep enjoying them for weeks to come :) This was a really sweet post.

  3. Joy: Since your mom is one of my oldest and dearest friends, I can heartily affirm all that you said about her. I also know how blessed she feels to have you and your sister as daughters.
    The bread looks scrumptious – the idea of carmelizing and adding the apples is inspired. I’m going to try some soon!

  4. What a nice daughter you are. Your mom must be so proud of you! I couldn’t agree more with you. Moms are the best (wished mine lived closer).

    I wanted to leave a quick comment about the bread (before I fall asleep on the keyboard – crazy weekend). The bread was just as delicious as you had described and definitely a keeper. Loved your tip on the apples. That’s exactly what I did too. I’ll email you soon.

    Have a great week!

  5. Hi Joy, what a wonderful tribute to your mom; I feel the same way and I had just written to my mom that we need to get together soon. Sadly, this bread was not a favorite for me, but I am always happy to try a new recipe and I passed some on to others who I think will enjoy it (it seems like everyone else has). I made the pupcakes today and Eloise went crazy for them! I will be posting a photo of her with them, as well as having a giveaway on my blog tomorrow, so please stop by.

  6. Oh Joy, what have you done to my hips?? This is THE best banana bread I have ever eaten… and I say that easily!! I thank you dearly for choosing this recipe and enlightening me to the lovely pair that is bananas and apples! This goes to the top of my bake again list!! Maybe I’ll make a simple glaze or top it off with powdered sugar next time :)

    Thank you again for choosing this. My pick isn’t until January but I’ll start looking now! I finally received my books from amazon (woo!) so I won’t be begging you to send me the recipes :)

    thank you. thank you.

  7. Thanks for the shout-out, Joy! I did see it last night but forgot to comment on it. Sorry!

    Again, thanks for hosting last week’s SMS event. A great pick!

    Will let you know how I fared at the Fair :o) Will probably post results and pics next weekend. I have one more entry left which is for a Ghirardelli contest (original recipe). That’s on Saturday. Wish me luck!

  8. I think its wonderful you feel that way about your mom! I have an incredible mother as well and just hope I can pass on the love and support she shared with me to my daughters.

    Thanks for a great pick this week!

  9. Thanks for choosing such an amazing recipe Joy! I’m definitely adding it to our family favorites. And thanks for your wonderful comments every week. I can’t even imagine how much time it must take you to read and thoughtfully comment on everyone’s posts! You are such a sweetheart!

  10. Hi Joy! Thank you so much for hosting this week and thank you for the oh so sweet post you left on my blog! I’m lovin’ this SMS thing already and it’s only been 1 week…
    I still have some of my banana bread at home and I’m so going to polish it off with a cup of tea later!! Very good choice and I’m definitely going to try your trip of grating the apples next time.
    Rosy x

  11. What a lovely post :)

    I finally got my bread up! I told you I’d do it :D Thank you so much for choosing this recipe, I simply can’t get enough of it! So so tasty!

    Katie xox

  12. Truth be told Joy, I was so overwhelmed reading your post, that I couldn’t even begin to relpy. Thank you for expessing your feelings so eloquently in your blog. I know they are always in your heart. Truthfully, I am the lucky one to have you as my child. You truly are a remarkable woman. You have strength of heart, compassion beyond words, are wise beyond your years and are incredibly talented. I am blessed to be your Mom. (And let’s not forget all of the incredible treats that are just “the icing on the cake”)
    With overflowing love and thanks!
    Mommy

  13. This bread looks absolutely fantastic, most and wonderful and I can almost smell it in the kitchen! What a great take on banana bread! I love what you wrote about your mom, it was beautiful.

  14. Well…no fear! I definitely think I will enjoy. And I love the words about your mom! I shall definitely be trying this…how unique….bananas and apples….like a lunch time delicacy.

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  20. I just made this recipe for the first time. I doubled it, and made it in 3 loaf pans. It was great! I did have some trouble getting it out of the pans, and a layer of bread stuck to the bottom of the pans, but everyone thought it was delicious still. Do you have any suggestions for removing it more easily? I ran a knife around the edge of the pan, and I diced the apples small.

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