Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brown butter banana strawberry bread

Dear friends, I have a pressing question for you.  Does this look like breakfast?

...or dessert?

It's been almost a week since I made this (and couldn't resist a first bite), and I still can't make up my mind!  There are strong arguments for both cases, so I'll let you decide as I continue to nibble on this delicious bread.

As the self-proclaimed carb queen, I feel it's my duty to persuade you to make this bread.  Nay, implore you to bake it.  It's easy.  It's delicious.  And it's perfectly ready to eat at any time of the day.

Breakfast?  Sure!  It's packed with heart-healthy bananas and nutritious strawberries to keep you full well until lunch.  Slice two hearty pieces for yourself first thing in the morning.  It could be on a lazy weekend or a rushed workday.  Maybe give it a quick nuke in the microwave or toast under the broiler.  Spread a little butter or a schmear of cream cheese on top.  Whatever you choose, I promise you won't be sorry.

But what if you're craving something sweet?  This is an ideal dessert, whether for a little afternoon treat or evening delight.  Just enough to say, "Yep, that's the stuff."  It's already made, so just plate up a slice or two on those cute plates you swear you'd use only when entertaining guests.  Not that the bread isn't moist enough from the bananas and strawberries, but if you're looking to send it over the top (and you are, I know you), here's what you could do. You could adorn the bread with a heaping dollop of fresh whipped cream or, better yet, a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Oh yes, that sounds much better.

While I continue to struggle with determining the identity and purpose of this brown butter banana strawberry bread, I settle on a puzzling question -- can it be both?  Some sort of philosophical existential hoo-ha too complex to answer now -- you should make this and decide for yourself.  And if you're still undecided, try try again until you succeed.  We bread/breakfast/dessert enthusiasts are nothing if not determined :)

Brown Butter Banana Strawberry Bread
(adapted from Joy the Baker)
-makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf

A few notes: If you're nervous about browning the butter and think it's not essential, think again.  It's easy as long as you watch it (not the time to check your email) and really does add to the depth of flavor in this bread.  Nutty and complex next to the sweetness from the fruit.  

6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk (I used yogurt)
1 1/4 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
1/2 cup diced strawberries plus 1 strawberry very thinly sliced for topping

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Butter will begin to foam and crackle as it melts.  When the crackling subsides, the butter will begin to brown.  Swirl the pan as the butter cooks.  When the butter browns and begins to smell nutty (you'll know!), remove the pan from the flame and transfer the butter to a small bowl to stop the butter from overcooking and cool faster.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, and yogurt or buttermilk.  Whisk in the mashed bananas.  When the butter has cooled, whisk in the browned butter.

Add all of the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to reveal any hidden pockets of flour.  Fold in the diced strawberries.  Be careful not to overmix.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with thinly sliced strawberries.  Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.  (This is when it's okay to check your email.)  Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Slice and enjoy!

Bread will keep 4 days, well wrapped at room temperature.  It also freezes very well!


  1. I know a lot of folks who don’t eat eggs (they’re allergic, for health reasons, or concerns about animal cruelty). Here’s an awesome site that gives tips on cooking and baking without eggs:

  2. yogurt, 2 kinds of fruit, more flour than sugar... definitively breakfast :) great looking loaf! thanks for the recipe, i'll be sure to try it :)