In my kitchen, banana bread is the kind of baked good that you can never go wrong with. I bake up hearty, generously spiced loaves in the winter and change things up with all kinds of mix-ins the rest of the year. I almost always have bananas available (and keep a couple of overripe ones in my freezer), so it’s a mainstay in my baking routine. ThisÂ Citrus Banana Bread is a great option for a spring or summer loaf for banana bread fans. The dense, tender bread not only includes plenty of banana, but lemon, orange and vanilla to brighten things up.
This is an easy to put together loaf that starts with a generous amount of mashed banana. When it comes to the bananas, you want to work with fruit that is very, very ripe and has a well-speckled peel. You can puree it completely in the food processor or simply mash it as well as you can with a fork -a technique which leads to a bread that has a few more pronounced bits of banana – and both are equally delicious. To the banana, I added about a tablespoon each of lemon and orange zest. The zest contains all the essential oils of the citrus, so you get a lot of flavor without having to add in any juice.
While I used lemon and orange here, you could actually incorporate other types of citrus, as well. Some lime zest will give this a more tropical feel and grapefruit zest can be a surprisingly nice contrast with bananas. You can even opt for something less conventional, such as buddah’s hand, depending on what kind of citrus you have available. Still, you can’t go wrong with the combination of lemon and orange in the basic recipe. Since you will only be using the zest, you can save the rest of the citrus for another recipe that only needs juice.
The finished loaf is moist, dense and loaded with banana and citrus in every bite, though the banana is still the dominant base flavor of the bread. I like to cut this bread into generous slices and pop them in the toaster to crisp up slightly before serving. Toasting the bread – and it holds up well to toasting – gives it a little bit of texture, while the heat of the toaster seems to reinvigorate the citrus. Serve slices up with some butter or cream cheese. The loaf itself will keep well for a few days after baking when stored in an airtight container.
Citrus Banana Bread
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 medium bananas, mashed (approx 1 1/4 cups)
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp orange zest
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, mix together mashed bananas, lemon zest, orange zest and sugar. Blend in egg, vegetable oil and vanilla extract until smooth and uniform. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in the remaining flour mixture and mix just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached. Allow loaf to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before unmolding it and allowing it to cool completely on a wire rack.
Makes 1 loaf; serves 10.