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Vanilla Maple Banana Bread

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Vanilla Maple Banana Bread
I bake a lot of banana bread. This is mostly because I love bananas and my kitchen is full of them almost all the time, but it is also because bananas are incredibly versatile and go well with so many other flavors. The versatility of bananas allows me to make a nearly unlimited number of banana bread variations – meaning that I never get tired of baking the same thing over and over. This Vanilla Maple Banana Bread is made with pure maple syrup and plenty of vanilla for a variation that is perfect for fall and winter.

I was inspired to make this recipe by the Trader Joe’s Vanilla Bean-infused Maple Syrup that I purchased recently, which has an amazing vanilla flavor on top of an already delicious maple syrup. Maple and vanilla are great combination – and both of those flavors work well with bananas. Just pour some maple syrup over banana pancakes to see what I mean! That said, you don’t have to use an infused maple syrup to make this recipe because it contains a generous amount of vanilla extract. In the event that you do have the vanilla-infused syrup, just enjoy even more flavor in each slice.

The banana bread essentially replaces part of the sugar that I would ordinarily use with maple syrup. Maple syrup is a bit sweeter than sugar is, but the finished bread isn’t overly sweet despite having a nice maple flavor. Since sugar helps to aerate a quick bread loaf like this one, the crumb of the banana bread is a bit tighter than similar recipes that don’t use maple syrup. That sturdy crumb that stands up well to slicing and toasting, and I particularly enjoy it when it is topped with a little bit of maple butter.

Be sure to use real maple syrup in this recipe for the best results. Maple syrup has a rich, complex flavor and it brings a lot to this banana bread. While maple syrup can be on the more expensive side for a baking ingredient, keep an eye out for it in larger containers at stores like Target and Costco, where you’ll get good value on real syrup that is much, much more delicious than pancake syrup for any application!

Vanilla Maple Banana Bread
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup mashed banana (2 med-large)
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
coarse or maple sugar, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together mashed banana, vegetable oil, egg, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, mixing just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with maple sugar or coarse sugar.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the bread springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow bread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 1 loaf; serves 12

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