Bananas aren’t “seasonal” anywhere I’ve ever lived, yet I still firmly associate banana recipes – particularly banana breads and muffins – with early fall. Maybe it’s simply that as the days begin to cool, the baking season around here begins, and bananas pair so wonderfully with traditional fall spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
This time, the baking was inspired by my Honey, who was desperately in need of some spoiling after missing out on countless home-cooked meals while traveling for work so often during the last month. A little early-morning treat was in order, and a sweet, dense banana bread was just the ticket. I decided to mix up my go-to recipe by adding some spicy, fresh ginger and a touch of aromatic cardamom, which I think deepens the already comforting flavors.
Now a quick note on the cardamom; it’s pretty expensive (I think the last jar of it I bought was around $14 dollars). That being said, you only need a pinch, and I think it adds a really nice element to the bread, but if it’s not a spice that you use regularly or already have on hand, please don’t feel obligated to go out and buy it just for this recipe; its omission will not be a deal-breaker.
6–7 (about 3–1/2 cups) very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened.
4 egg whites
2 cups sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cardamom*
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 4-inch-by-8-1/2-inch loaf pans; grease the bottom and sides of each pan with butter and dust lightly with flour. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, use the back of a large fork to mash together the bananas, Greek yogurt, milk and ginger. The mixture should be well-mixed with small chunks of banana remaining. Add to a stand-up mixer. With the mixer running on low speed, add the vanilla, butter, egg whites and sugar, until well-combined.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and cardamom, if using. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer, a half cup at a time until just mixed. Be careful not to overbeat. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans.
Bake for 1 hour, until the tops are golden brown and a cake-tester inserted into the middle of each loaf comes out clean. Remove the pans from the oven and let cool on a baking rack for 10-15 mins. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, and gently flip over to remove the loaves. Let cool completely on a baking rack. Slice and serve.
The bread can be stored for up to a week, if refrigerated and wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. It will continue to get more moist over time.