Thursday, February 18, 2016

Banana nut coffee bread

Banana nut coffee bread | Homesick Texan

My first thought when we walked into Grandma’s Coffee Shop on the island of Maui was that it felt like Austin. It had a laid-back friendly feeling that was open and inviting. My second thought was that I needed caffeine.

My brother, sister-in-law, and I had spent the early hours of the morning driving up to the top of a volcano to watch the sun rise. It was spectacular. But after little sleep and 20 hours of travel to get to Hawaii from New York the day before, I was exhausted. Fortunately, Grandma’s had just what I needed.

Hungry, we ordered a host of classic Hawaiian breakfast dishes such as eggs scrambled with char siu pork and Portuguese sausage, hamburger patties and rice smothered in brown gravy, banana-macadamia nut pancakes, and a coconut-pineapple breakfast bar. There were mugs of hot coffee and banana bread, too.

Banana nut coffee bread | Homesick Texan

When the banana bread arrived at the table, thick and warm, I noticed how dark it was compared to other banana breads I’d eaten back home. We all grabbed our forks and took a bite. It was a cake-like bread, rich and fragrant with a hint of brown sugar and coffee. It tasted like no banana bread I’d ever tried and was a perfect way to begin my trip to Hawaii.

After I got back to New York, that banana bread was still on my mind. While I didn’t have the recipe for the bread I’d tried at Grandma’s Coffee House, I did have a recipe that my grandma had given me at one time. And taking our family’s recipe and making a few adjustments to match what I’d tried in Hawaii just seemed right to me.

The Texas recipe called for walnuts, but still inspired by Hawaii I added macadamia nuts in one batch. With another, I used pecans. Both worked beautifully making the bread a little crunchy and sweet. To repeat that whisper of coffee I’d tasted in Hawaii, I stirred in a dash of espresso powder, which gave the bread a bit more depth. Finally, I chose to bake it in a cast-iron skillet to ensure plenty of surface area for the top crust.

My grandma’s recipe didn’t call for oil, buttermilk, or sour cream, so I was concerned the bread would be dry, but there was no need to worry as it turned out tender and soft, dark and sweet.

Banana nut coffee bread | Homesick Texan

While it wasn’t exactly what I’d had in Hawaii, the combination of inspiration from two grandmothers and two cultures went together very well. It was perfect. And indeed, this banana nut coffee bread is a fine way to begin your day, no matter where you may find yourself in the world.

Banana nut coffee bread

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 packed cup mashed ripe bananas (3 or 4 bananas, depending on size)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or macadamia nuts

Preheat the oven to 325°F and lightly grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or 9x5 bread pan.

Cream the butter and sugar until well combined. Stir in the mashed bananas, and then add the eggs and vanilla. Stir until well combined.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, espresso powder, and salt and then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until a sticky dark batter forms, then add the nuts.

Spoon the batter into the skillet, smoothing the top so it’s even. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes if using a skillet (or about 1 hour if using a bread pan), or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

16 servings

Instant espresso powder is instant espresso, not regular ground espresso, and you can find it at most grocery stores in the coffee aisle. If you can’t find it, you can substitute 1 teaspoon finely ground regular coffee, but please note that the texture and flavor will be a bit different. If you prefer to not use coffee at all, you can easily omit it.




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Kristine Kratschmer said...

Aloha Lisa - you nailed this recipe for sure. I live on Maui, so homemade banana bread is so popular, and it never gets old! Often you will see banana muffins topped with toasted pecans here...very Texas in my opinion! This would be awesome as "french toast" too, I'm going to try that this weekend. BTW...I went to AC too, graduated a year before you, was an Alpha etc...been following your blog for a while, and totally enjoy your recipes. I left TX to move to NYC in my 20's as well, and eventually landed on Maui. Tex-Mex is rare here, so I often pull out your recipes. I make the trip back to Dallas and Houston every so often, and hit up my favorite joints, just like you. Thanks so much for your posts! Kristine

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Aloha Kristine! You're very welcome and thank you for the kind words. Go Roos! How fortunate you are to live in such a beautiful, magical place! I am now obsessed with Hawaii and plan to visit again soon.

Angela Lopez said...

I'm never made it in a cast iron skillet. How cute is that!? And I'm sure the edges get nice and crusty.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Angela--The crust is my favorite part!

Mike @ Optional Kitchen said...

Oh my lands. I'm now officially counting down the hours until I can leave work and make this. (And also pondering deep thoughts about cane syrup and rum...)

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Mike--I'm liking your deep thoughts about cane syrup and rum!

Michael said...

Expresso powder, are you talking instant coffee or real ground expresso?


Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Michael--It's instant espresso.

Kate said...

Yum! I have literally been dreaming about banana bread all day. Gathering the ingredients right now to make it. Thanks for satisfying my cravings!!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Kate--You're very welcome! Enjoy!

Paige Tamburello said...

Can you use regular espressos grounds instead of the instant grounds?

TexasDeb said...

I made this yesterday (I used pecans) and it was absolutely delicious. Moist, nice depth of flavor. My espresso powder was out of date and there was not a lot of coffee flavor noted in the end product- it could be the age of the product, or perhaps it was simply more subtle than expected. I suspect that addition could be skipped as you suggest without significant detriment.

I didn't have a skillet large enough but wanted the exposed upper crust so I used my springform pan (well greased) and it worked like a dream. I also sprinkled Turbinado sugar on top of the batter right before I put the bread in the oven. The extra sweet crunch up top was great.

I'll be making this again and again. Thanks to both "Grandmas" and to you for the blended approach.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Paige--The advantage of the instant is that it dissolves into the batter, which makes it more evenly flavored but you can also use one teaspoon of finely ground non-instant beans. The bread may be a little grainy, though, and the coffee flavor may not be as evenly distributed. But it should still be good!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

TexasDeb--I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And that's a neat tip about using a springform pan. I also love that you added Turbinado sugar on top, which I'll definitely be trying next time!

Tommy in Toronto said...

if I had known you were going to Maui, I'd of hooked you up with a good buddy who is executive chef at a 5 star property. He is a fellow Torontonian who would've who lIves for food and he'd be in hog heaven to host the Homesick Texan.maybe next time Lisa

thejameskitchen said...

Lisa, the bread (and your whole trip) sounds absolutely delightful and thanks to TexasDeb for the Springform idea. I fried mackerel in my pan the other day and would be worried of a terrible flavour fusion.

Anne said...

It's in the oven now and smells divine!

Peta said...

Looks Delish! (The Share link at the end of the article is broken. I found out trying to pin it.)

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Tommy--Yes, I'd love to know who your friend is, as I'll definitely be returning! I fell in love with Maui.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Thejameskitchen--That would be an awful flavor combination!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Anne--Baking is the best aromatherapy!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Peta--I'm not sure what happened with the share button as it worked fine for me. Thank you for letting me know, however. I'll keep an eye on it.

Kate said...

Saw this cake last Friday and immediately made it that night! The whole family LOVED it, it might be our new favorite banana bread. Thanks for the great recipe!

Michele said...

This was so good! I added a half cup of dark chocolate chips, and I used a tablespoon of instant coffee grounds bc we didn't have instant espresso. I might double the coffee next time, since I can't detect it. But this is the best banana bread I've ever had! And I got a beautiful crusty right in my loaf pan!

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