Cheery Cherry Banana Bread

The Recipe: My forever-and-forever favorite recipe for banana bread, rich with banana flavor, very banana-y. (That's thanks to very ripe bananas, even my favorite "black bananas"!) It calls for whole-wheat flour and wheat germ, so the recipe is even half healthful. But what really makes this banana bread special? Poppy seeds and those bright-red cheery cherries!

And now there's also Christmas Banana Bread with tart fresh cranberries. Consider making banana bread a new seasonal tradition.

The Conversation: Are super-size portions the reason we're putting on pounds?

My forever-and-forever recipe for banana bread, very banana-y, mostly sweetened with very ripe bananas, half healthful with whole-wheat flour and nutty wheat germ. What really makes this banana bread special? Poppy seeds and those bright-red cheery cherries! For Weight Watchers, #PP5. #KitchenParade

Nutrition experts cite super-size portions as one reason why Americans put on pounds.

I recently purchased a baking pan that cuts the portion size of quick breads in half – kinda magic, just like that!

The pan holds the same volume as a standard bread pan but is shallower and longer, about twelve inches long, allowing for more slices. The longer size is especially perfect for rich quick breads but when the weather cools off, I’ll be trying it for bread too.

A half-inch thick slice from the new longer pan feeds up half the calories as one from a standard bread pan. You can accomplish the same thing – sort of – by cutting a standard loaf in half . To my eyes, somehow that feels like a spoil-sport "half slice" where the tea loaf slice feels "just right". Weird but true.

2009 update: So sorry, my new heavy, high-quality "Danish Loaf Pan" has been discontinued by King Arthur Flour. Too bad, it remains my very favorite. They do sell a stoneware version.

Speaking of super-sized portions, who's seen the 2004 documentary Super Size Me? I couldn't imagine becoming LESS excited about the fast-food chains that appear at every turn. This very watchable movie has even turned my teenage nephews off McDonalds drive-throughs. Check it out on Hulu.com, my latest non-food obsession! No special software required, just click watch and there it is!

ALANNA's TIPS: Watch if your grocer puts out too-ripe-to-sell bananas at a much-reduced price. How ripe should bananas be for baking? See these pictures of ripe bananas. Store wheat germ and whole wheat flour in the fridge or freezer to retain freshness. While it's possible to find poppy seeds in the spice aisle at the grocery store, they're very expensive there. Instead, watch for large bags of poppy seeds at an international market with imports from the Mideast or Eastern Europe. The maraschino cherries are optional but add color and texture contrast to the bread. If you like this bread fresh, try it lightly toasted too! This column was first published in print in 2003 and online in 2009.

CHEERY CHERRY BANANA BREAD

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour
Makes 1 standard loaf
  • 1/2 cup (114g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (66g) brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (80g) buttermilk (or 1/3 cup milk plus 1 teaspoon vinegar)
  • 3 very ripe bananas or "black bananas", mashed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (28g) wheat germ
  • 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (95g) whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup (35g) poppy seeds
  • 15-ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained, optional

Set oven to 350F/175C. Butter a standard-size bread loaf pan, about 8x4.

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer. Mix in the eggs, then the buttermilk and bananas, combine well.

In a separate bowl, stir together the spices, baking soda, wheat germ, flours and poppy seeds very well, really mixing them together. With a spatula, turn these dry ingredients into the wet mixture. When they're about halfway mixed, add the cherries and continue to combine, just until mixed.

(Why do quick-bread recipes like this say to combine "just until mixed" and say to avoid over-mixing? When you over-mix a quick-bread batter, past the point where the dry ingredients are just mixed in but no more, small holes will form during baking. It's not a total disaster but not as pretty as it could be. It's why I make sure you know to really mix the dry ingredients well, also why I suggest turning the dry ingredients and the cherries in with a spatula, not the mixer.)

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for about 30 minutes before removing from the baking pan, completely before slicing. Keeps for several days but should be wrapped well and refrigerated if it's out for more than a day.

NUTRITION INFORMATION, Per slice, assuming 16 slices: 180 Calories; 8g Tot Fat; 4g Sat Fat; 24g Carb; 2g Fiber; 139mg Sodium; 55mg Cholesterol; 4g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 4 & WW PointsPlus 5

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

Christmas Banana Bread


Christmas Banana Bread, just add fresh cranberries to your favorite banana bread. Recipe, tips, nutrition, WW points at #KitchenParade.

It's super-easy to convert a banana bread recipe (mine is above) into something seasonal and Christmas-y. Just add (if it's your recipe) or substitute (if it's mine) about 1-1/2 cups (150g) fresh cranberries. It helps to cut them in half, horizontally, they go further. With my recipe, since the cherries are extra-sweet and the cranberries are unsweetened, you might want to double the sugar, too. If you don't, the banana bread will definitely be less sweet than many are used to. But I don't add more sugar and really like that the Christmas Banana Bread is barely sweet, that makes it good as a holiday morning bread, an easy choice on a cookie plate, alongside a cup of tea, even a "less-sweet ending" for a holiday brunch, say.

NUTRITION INFORMATION, Per slice, assuming 16 slices: 166 Calories; 7g Tot Fat; 4g Sat Fat; 20g Carb; 2g Fiber; 139mg Sodium; 55mg Cholesterol; 4g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 3.5 & WW PointsPlus 4


More Favorite Quick-Bread Recipes

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Autumn Pumpkin Bread Carrot & Zucchini Bread Shhh Banana Bread

More Recipes for Bananas

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Banana Oatmeal Cookies Banana Streusel Muffins Stovetop Oatmeal with Whipped Banana

What to Make with Poppy Seeds

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Lavosh - Armenian Cracker Bread Homemade Poppy Seed Cake Lemon Crinkle Cookies with Poppy Seeds

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~ Christmas Banana Bread ~





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These (slices) are so cute and the bread looks so yummy! ^^ I love how the little cherries look like kissing lips!
 
This looks good. Do you have a recipe for a maraschino cherry and walnut bread? A friend used to make it a lot and I lost the recipe she gave me.
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna