Growing up, banana bread came by way of a compact blue box from the grocery store or food pantry. My mother would always bake up a box or two for every holiday and sometimes just because. I always felt that this was her way of faking abundance, when we were clearly lacking. On dreaded occasions, she would dilute the banana bread by also mixing in a box of nut bread. I would secretly be relieved when the grocery store was out of nut bread. Even though that meant that instead of two loaves that would last a day or two, we would only have one loaf that I would have to fight over with my brother.
Although I could never imagine baking banana bread from a box nowadays, it was a perfectly acceptable, reasonably cheap convenience that many families viewed as the norm 25 years ago. I don’t fault my mom for not baking from scratch. I just know that if I were to pull out a boxed version of anything, my kids would chastise me. Clearly, times have changed.
Because there wasn’t any from-scratch baking going on in my house growing up, I am severely lacking in the ‘recipes that have been passed down for generations’ department. On one hand, this disappoints me, but on the other, this is the perfect opportunity to get in the kitchen and pave my own way.
I often take recipes that have potential and adapt them until they are amazingly good – which is what I have done with this recipe. The whiskey glaze is completely optional. I have made this plenty of times without, but had felt a little obligated to use some whiskey since it had been gifted to us. On its own, the whiskey tasted how I would imagine cigarette soaked lighter fluid would taste – obviously I am no whiskey connoisseur, maybe that flavor means it is premium quality. I just know that it tasted much better with pure maple syrup added. It brought out the woodsy, smoky (in a good way) tones of the whiskey and was no longer overbearing or dirty tasting. Whiskey glaze or not, you won’t be disappointed with this recipe. Even without a glaze, the banana bread cakes are moist, warmly spiced, and comforting.
**I don’t usually add chopped walnuts because my kids don’t care for them, but add 1/2c to the flour mixture if you would like.
**I often add some demerara sugar to the top before baking. It adds a nice crunch and some extra sweetness.
- ½c unsalted butter, softened
- ⅔c dark brown sugar (you can use light brown sugar if that’s all you have)
- 2tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2¼c all-purpose flour
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼tsp ground cardamom (it complements the orange well and has a floral quality; a little goes a long way; optional)
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1tsp baking soda
- 1tsp fine salt
- 3 medium, ripe bananas, mashed (about 1½c worth – but you don’t have to be precise – I never measure the bananas)
- ¼c orange marmalade (you can substitute with apple butter if you don’t want a subtle orange flavor)
- ¼c honey (I usually use clover honey because it is very mild and readily available)
- • Cream together the softened butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. About 3 minutes.
- • Add vanilla and eggs, beat until well combined
- • In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom (if using), baking soda, baking powder, salt, walnuts(if using).
- • In a separate medium bowl, add bananas and mash well. Add honey and orange marmalade. Mixing to combine.
- • Add banana mixture to the creamed butter mixture, combine well.
- • Slowly add in flour mixture. Stir until just combined.
- • Pour batter into prepared pans. Grease loaf and mini Bundt pans, use paper liners for muffin tins.
- **If making in loaf pans, bake at 350 degrees for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.
- **I usually make these in mini or regular muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees; 12-15 minutes for mini muffins; 18-22 minutes for regular sized muffins.
- ** For mini bundt cakes, bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes.
- 3tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1tbsp whiskey
- Whisk to combine, pour over slightly cooled muffins or cakes. I use a 3:1 ratio for this recipe so that the whiskey isn’t too overpowering.