Banana Bread with Walnut Crumble
Barring national holidays and my birthday, the Harvard/Yale football game is my favorite day of the year.
I have mentioned my distaste for football many times before, so my fondness for Harvard/Yale clearly has less than nothing to do with the sports game itself. In fact, I’m ashamed to admit that in the eight years that I have attended H/Y festivities, I have witnessed the actual football game a grand total of one time. To be honest, I do not really recall this uncharacteristic adventure, but there is photo documentation of me enthusiastically cheering inside the Harvard stadium in 2006, so it must be true. Blackout Serena (affectionately referred to by friends as “Selena”) is apparently a sports fan! Who would have guessed?
I’m sure some of you are wondering, “Serena, if you hate football so much, why do you go to Harvard/Yale every year?” I’m so glad you asked. To me, H/Y is all about the camaraderie. You know, the dance parties on the bus, heart-to-hearts with people I barely know, shameless keg standing with fans of all ages, and keeping your roommate/besties from being arrested. There are few things in life that make me happier.
Therefore, when the H/Y planning began several weeks ago, I was practically bursting with excitement. My friend Daphne organized a party bus to New Haven, the group email chain was initiated, and morale was high. Everyone was instructed to be on time (accompanied by threats of excommunication from the group) and to bring his or her own refreshments. Naturally, I decided to provide a snack for everyone because I am the best, and also because I like to travel with plenty of food, lest my roommate get hungry and freak out in public.
So, last Saturday morning, I rose with the sun, donned my finest crimson, and set off to conquer H/Y 2013 armed with a personal bottle of Prosecco and two warm loaves of Banana Bread with Walnut Crumble. I was ready.
This banana bread recipe is a keeper, friends. I have inhaled many a banana bread over the years, but this one is my favorite for several reasons. First and foremost, it is incredibly moist. Sorry, I had to use the m-word because when it comes to banana bread moistness is key. Dry banana bread is the worst, but you don’t want a gooey mess either, and this bread strikes the perfect balance. It’s lightly sweet and spiced with just enough cinnamon and nutmeg to warm it up without overshadowing the banana flavor.
The actual bread itself is dope, but the walnut crumble is what really takes this recipe to the next level. Crispy, brown-sugary goodness with walnuts and oats creates a beautiful golden brown crust on top of the banana bread, adding amazing texture to every delicious bite. After eating banana bread with a crumble topping, I honestly wonder if I’ll ever be able to eat the regular version again. I’m completely aware of how melodramatic that sounds, but you will probably feel the same way when you try it. My bus peeps did.
Oh, and I have a surprise for you, dudes. There is zero butter in this bad boy. Instead of buttery fatness (you’ll get enough of that on Thanksgiving), I used only raw coconut oil to create this banana bread masterpiece. This is wonderful news for several reasons. In case you didn’t know, coconut oil is the tits. Its healthy fat actually reduces cholesterol, boosts immunity, and helps you balance your weight! It’s also packed with antioxidants that protect your skin from aging. Coconut oil consumption= skinnier and prettier you. Booyah. (You can also rub coconut oil on your skin and hair, and use it as a very effective eye makeup remover. I know that’s unrelated to the banana bread, but I like to share my wealth of very important knowledge whenever possible.)
While a plain slice of Banana Bread with Walnut Crumble is pretty money, I highly recommend getting a little creative with it. Try toasting it and slathering it with your favorite jam or a tablespoon of nut butter. A drizzle of honey or maple syrup with a sprinkling of coarse salt and cinnamon is delightful as well. You could also bake the batter in a muffin or mini-muffin tin if you wanted to go a more portion-controlled and portable route with your banana bread. This probably would have been a smart idea for last Saturday, but hindsight is 20/20, and there were far bigger messes on the bus than banana bread crumbs. Fact.
Needless to say, this banana bread was a huge hit at H/Y. People raved about it, and I received several hugs, high fives, and over the top praise for my domestic skills. Yes, many of those people were inebriated (and the fact that the person who brought bagels forgot cream cheese worked to my bread’s advantage), but whatever. Drunk compliments are still compliments, and this banana bread always wins. Just like Harvard. (Had to.)
Banana Bread with Walnut Crumble: (Makes 1 loaf)
4 very ripe bananas
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (you can substitute 1/3 cup melted butter if you must)
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups all-purpose flour
For the walnut crumble:
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup quick cooking oats
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup coconut oil in solid form (You may have to put it in the fridge for an hour or so if you haven’t been storing your coconut oil in solid form. You can also use ¼ cup cold butter.)
Preparing your Banana Bread with Walnut Crumble:
-Pre-heat-your oven to 350 degrees. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
-Start by making your walnut crumble. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, salt and walnuts and mix well.
-Add the solid coconut oil to use your hands to work it into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. Don’t overwork it, clumps are a good thing! Refrigerate your crumble while you make the banana bread dough.
-Place your bananas in a large mixing bowl.
-Using a potato masher or a large fork, mash the bananas well. You want them to be relatively smooth, but a few lumps are fine.
-Mix the melted coconut oil into the bananas. Add the brown sugar, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, and mix well. Sprinkle the baking soda over the batter and then mix it in. Add the flour last, making sure everything is well combined.
-Pour the batter into your lined loaf pan.
-Top the batter with the walnut crumble in an even layer.
-Bake for 50 minutes to an hour or until a tester comes out clean.
-Let your bread cool in the pan for a few minutes and then transfer it to a cooling rack. Slice before serving. God, you’re good at baking.
Recipe adapted from the glorious Smitten Kitchen.
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