Banana bread gets a fresh boost from shredded coconut

There are all sorts of tweaks you can make to a banana bread by mixing up the flours and adding extra ingredients

SHARE Banana bread gets a fresh boost from shredded coconut
This banana bread is made with whole-wheat and all-purpose flour, which adds a pleasant heft to the loaf, along with shredded coconut for freshness. 

This banana bread is made with whole-wheat and all-purpose flour, which adds a pleasant heft to the loaf, along with shredded coconut for freshness.

Lynda Balslev/TasteFood

Are you in the mood for a prepackaged healthy snack? Or how about a slice of quick bread to accompany your morning cup of coffee? Look no further than the ubiquitous banana.

Bananas are naturally sweet and nutritious, high in fiber, rich in potassium, magnesium, and B and C vitamins. Best of all, bananas come all zipped up in their own skin, which makes them easily transportable — perfect for a lunchbox, a workout recharge and a bite on the go.

They are also more than just a snack. As bananas ripen, they soften, and their sugar content and starch increase. At this point, they can transform into a healthy key ingredient in a sweet bread or cake. (Tip: If you have ripe bananas and can’t use them immediately, simply pop them unpeeled into the freezer to save for the proverbial rainy day when baking is requisite.)

I am picky when it comes to bananas. I prefer to eat them on the barely green side, just under-ripe, while they are still firm and not overwhelmingly sweet. When they reach the mushy-sweet tipping point, I often set them aside for a banana bread.

There are all sorts of tweaks you can make to a banana bread by mixing up the flours and adding extra ingredients, such as chopped nuts and chocolate chips. In this recipe, I use a blend of whole-wheat and all-purpose flour, which adds a pleasant heft to the bread, along with shredded coconut for freshness.

Banana Coconut Bread

Yield: Makes one 9-inch loaf

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 large very ripe bananas, peeled, coarsely mashed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup whole-milk European style yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus extra for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment.

2. Mix the bananas and sugars in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Mix in the eggs until blended, and then mix in the butter, yogurt, vanilla and cinnamon until just combined.

3. Whisk the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until just combined. Stir in the coconut.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle additional coconut on the top. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes clean, about 55 minutes. If the cake is golden brown on top and still not entirely cooked, loosely cover with foil, and continue to bake, checking every 10 minutes until done.

5. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes; remove the bread from the loaf pan and cool completely.

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food and wine writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She also authors the blog TasteFood, a compilation of more than 600 original recipes, photos and stories. More recipes can be found at chicago.suntimes.com/taste.

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