A Squared: Friday Finds: Flour Bakery's Banana Bread

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Finds: Flour Bakery's Banana Bread

Before I moved to Chicago and fell in love with the Windy City, I was a recent college grad barely getting by in the pricey city of Boston. Back then, my focus was primarily on shopping and partying and between those costs and my sky high rent, I didn't have much money available to dine out and splurge on good meals. As you well know, that's a big passion of mine now. I was impressively frugal when it came to making my meals at home in Boston, but I did find time for the occasional splurge when it came to a few of my favorites: Italian restaurants in the North End, tapas at Toro, and coffee and pastries at Flour Bakery + Cafe.

Flour only had two locations back when I lived in Boston-- one in Fort Point, perfect for meeting up with friends on a lunch break for delicious sandwiches and one in the South End, my go to spot for weekend coffee and baked goods. They have since expanded to 4 locations where Chef Joanne Chang's team bakes every item in house with fresh ingredients. She's even been on Throwdown With Bobby Flay competing to see who could make the best sticky bun.

Years after I left Boston, I was in a Chicago bookstore that was going out of business stocking up on deeply discounted cookbooks. I was super excited to come across a copy of Chang's Flour cookbook. I snatched it up right away. The book includes many of Flour's signature baked goods recipes and they are all so good! My favorite, however, is Joanne Chang's banana bread recipe. I have tried many over the years and the results have been all over the place, but this recipe is the perfect combination of moist bread and sweet banana flavor. I make it all the time and Alex usually gobbles it all up within a few days. I prefer to make muffins over a loaf of bread, so I have included my bake times for those below.

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 1/2 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 2 Tbs. creme fraiche or sour cream *I always use nonfat plain Greek yogurt and it works great.
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped (optional-- especially if your husband is allergic like mine)

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. On low speed, drizzle in the oil. Don't pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn't deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding it should take about 1 minute. Add the bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed just until combined.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and the nuts just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible and the nuts should be evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours*, or until golden brown on top and center springs back when you press it. If your finger sinks when you poke the bread it needs to bake longer. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, and then pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.

The bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Thaw overnight at room temperature for serving.

*For muffins, bake 30-35 minutes
For mini muffins, bake 24-28 minutes


  1. I love muffins over bread too, so thanks for including the muffins time! These look great, I could sure go for one right now!

  2. Hi Anne,
    Muffins are zee best and banana bread is my go-to flavor. The moister the better. Thanks for sharing your recipe, can't wait to try it out!


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