Over the winter, I was pumping out loaves of this Coconut Banana Bread like mad. It’s the perfect wintertime treat – sweet, satisfying, decadent in the right ways, clean and nourishing in the others. Spring, summer, new fruits appear more readily than bananas that travel a long way to be available for us, so the bread has long since disappeared from the pastry case at the Rapha Clubhouse here in Boulder. But for equally as long, I’ve been asked for the recipe. And, for months I’ve hesitated writing it up because…I’m just not making it the same way I will in the winter when bananas become covetable again. But, I had a few bananas hanging out in the freezer, and this was just the thing for a long bike ride in the mountains…so I put in a few final tweaks to mix-ins and flour ratios and at last, I’m ready to share this favorite version with the world. (Since I’m sure you all have a few bananas lurking in your freezer too!)
It’s worth mentioning here that baking for Rapha Boulder is unlike any other baking gig a pastry chef could have – one I hope never to let go of. Each week, I pump out a healthy (but not nearly full-scale bakery’s worth) of pastries for our little community there, and within reason there’s LOTS of space to be creative – to craft treats and sweets that fit in jersey pockets, that last longer than a single day (since I bake every other day,) and that speak equally well to guests coming in to just kick it with friends, and to sate their souls after a long ride. There’s no other place that is simultaneously concerned with what would be PERFECT for a long ride, and a long lunch with friends. And frankly, that’s exactly what I’m concerned with. (For example, decadent chocolate chip cookies are cool like that – they’re “just the thing” on so many occasions.)
This Coconut Banana Bread with Ginger + Cacao Nibs is also good like that: just “The Thing.” For pockets, for visiting friends, for housewarming gifts, for brunch at home, for a comforting snack toasted just a bit and then slathered with butter or raw honey. It’s vegan and can be made gluten-free with a quick flour swap, it comes together quickly and pops out of the oven impressively with a toasty whole banana on top, crusted with toasty seeds on the sides.
I designed this loaf to be tender but sturdy when sliced up and slid into jersey pockets, sweet but not cloying, and not to be so simple as to just contain chunks of chocolate (though you could play it that way.) I love the chunks of ginger with the buttery coconut undertones, and the subtle crunch of the cacao nibs baked right in.
Enjoy, all you askers, and bake away! This one was for sure worth the wait.
*This recipe was inspired by Camille Becerra’s Coconut Banana Bread in the CherryBombe Cookbook by Claudia Wu + Kerry Diamond, Potter 2017.*
The recipe is pretty straightforward, and unlike other recipes here I don’t recommend making many swaps. Coconut oil (and not another oil) is important for texture and flavor here, and the bread really is better with all the mix-ins. I suppose you could bake this one in a bundt or cake pan if you wanted to bake it as a birthday cake (which, I would never blame you for.) It’s that good.
Flavors are FUN, yes, but they also are the mechanisms by which our bodies nourish themselves. Flavors basically tell our bodies what the food is giving us – on a nutritional and energetic level. Our bodies then prepare enzymes to break those components down, assimilate them, and turn them into fuel for our vibrant lives. We can’t eat just one flavor and get all of the things we need, so learning to track the flavors in our foods helps us to be sure that we’re really getting all of the things we need in our meals. This particular recipe has all six flavors. The more flavors we can enjoy in any meal or food, the happier and more balanced our bodies will be. If you’re wanting to learn more about how the flavors we eat fuel our bodies – energetically and nutritively, check out this little blog post.
Preheat the oven to 375°F degrees.
Wipe a 9″ loaf pan with liquid coconut oil, sprinkle in sesame or flax seeds and shake the pan to coat. This is important as it will prevent the bread from sticking in the pan!
In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and soda – whisk to incorporate.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and 3 of the bananas. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and well incorporated (2-3 minutes.) Stop the paddle and add the yogurt, then beat again until well-combined.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the whisked dry ingredients. Mix just briefly – one or two revolutions of the paddle – to combine, then add the coconut, ginger and cacao nibs. Mix on low speed until well incorporated, without dry spots in the batter.
Lastly, add the coconut oil, mixing until just combined. The batter will be very creamy, thick and smooth at this point, with no little coconut oil pockets.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes.
After the 15 minutes are up, pull the pan from the oven and place the 4th banana sliced lengthwise across the length of the pan. Turn the oven down to 350°F and continue baking until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean – roughly 45 more minutes.
Remove the loaf from the oven and let cool in the pan. Then turn out the loaf, slice, and enjoy!