Most of the overripe bananas in my kitchen are destined to go into a batch of banana bread or banana cake. There are occasions when I don’t have quite enough bananas to make a whole loaf – such as the mornings when I decide to add half of one of those bananas to a bowl of cereal, leaving half to languish in the fruit bowl. Fortunately, I have a solution for those times when you have only a small amount of banana to use up: Almost Instant Banana Bread in a Mug. This is a microwave cake that takes less time to mix up than it does to eat, it uses up a little bit of extra banana and it tastes delicious.
The recipe is a scaled down version of regular banana bread and features buttermilk, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla, in addition to banana, of course. It bakes up to be light, fluffy and moist, but it will stay paler in color than banana bread baked in a more traditional way. The advantage to this method is that you get two servings (or one very large serving) of banana bread that you can enjoy right away. I like to add chopped walnuts or pecans to this bread to add a little texture to it, but you could omit those for a plain banana bread or replace them with chocolate chips as a more indulgent alternative.
I used a technique that I learned with my Microwave Chocolate Cake, where you partially cook the batter on low power, stir and cook again. This process prevents the cake from becoming hard and overcooked in the center – which is a common problem with microwave cakes – and allows it to develop a much more uniform texture. The cooking time may vary slightly based on your microwave, since they vary in power, but you can check you cake for doneness by looking at the top of the cake and waiting for it to set. The cooking time should only vary by 20-30 seconds or so, at the most.
Banana Mug Bread
1/2 ripe banana (approx 2.5 oz)
1 large egg white
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
In a medium bowl, mash the banana into a fairly smooth puree. Whisk in egg white, vegetable oil, sugar, brown sugar, buttermilk and vanilla extract.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add to banana mixture and stir to combine. Stir in walnut.
Divide batter evenly into two 11-oz mugs (you can use larger mugs, but the bread won’t rise al the way to the top).
Microwave on 50% power for 45 seconds. Add two tablespoons of chopped walnuts to each mug and stir well with a fork. Microwave on 50% power for 90-120 seconds, until cake is set and the top looks firm.
Allow cakes to cool for 1-2 minutes before serving. Garnish with a walnut half, if desired.