**THE GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. Congrats to the winner, Lynda!!
This post is sponsored by Curate.
Inspiration can strike anywhere. As I mentioned in last week’s post on finding inspiration, during my recent trip to Hawaii I discovered that banana bread is kind of a big deal over there. Why? They have a lot of bananas, and banana bread is delicious. Makes sense to me. Today I’m using that inspiration to share a few unique takes on this Hawaiian-inspired treat. It’s Banana Bread: 3 Ways.
Sidenote: There’s a fabulous giveaway at the end of this post which includes a box of Curate Snack bars and a $100 Amazon gift card. Stay tuned to see how you can enter to win!
I was somewhat surprised to learn that banana bread is so popular in Hawaii. Although it’s delicious, banana bread always seemed kind of basic to me. I grew up with it. Plus, it’s in my dad’s repertoire of recipes, which consists of macaroni salad, sloppy joes, and no-bake cookies. Things that are tasty, but pretty simple to make.
Regardless, I embraced this sweet confection of the Aloha State and sampled several renditions around the island. This was my first visit to Hawaii, Maui specifically, so I tried to take in as much as I could.
Part of my adventure in Maui lead me on the Road to Hana. (I’ll be talking more about that adventure and sharing my tips for the road soon.) It’s a beautiful drive along the north and east side of the island. While a bit treacherous at times (single lane roads inches from tall cliffs), the Road to Hana boasts some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen. It took me 14 hours to drive the road mainly because of the many stops and hikes I made along the way. I’ve heard that if you drive straight through it only takes about 4 hours. However, for me stopping off to check things out was a must.
Since the Road to Hana is isolated, a few folks have set up food stands along the way should adventurers get hungry. Most, if not all, of these roadside stands sold banana bread.
Having been warned about the lack of food along the drive, I planned ahead and packed snacks and water. Although I didn’t feast on the banana bread along the way, I did enjoy tasting a sample whenever one was offered. Therefore, I can confirm that Hawaiians sure know how to make banana bread.
As I looked at my snacks (Curate Snack bars) there on the passenger seat beside me, inspiration struck. What if I took my dad’s classic banana bread recipe and gave it a little kick inspired by the flavors in a few of the Curate Snack bars? So that’s exactly what I did.
As you might know from reading IBC, Curate is a new snack bar brand that has taken a culinary approach to healthful snacking. They have six delicious bar recipes that are non-GMO and gluten-free. And they contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Naturally, they were a good place to look for inspiration for amping up my banana bread.
I called my dad and got his recipe for banana bread. It really is my favorite, so I figured that it would be a good place to start. I did add a few missing but important ingredients: salt and vanilla extract.
One thing to note, this recipe calls for butter flavor shortening. While you might be tempted to substitute regular butter, don’t. The vegetable shortening is what helps to create that quintessential dark brown outer layer on banana bread.
With the basic banana bread recipe ready, I took my flavor inspiration from three of the Curate Snack bars. Here’s what I came up with:
Based on the Indulgent bar, I decided to add dark chocolate chips, almonds, and hazelnuts to my bread. For the Sweet & Tart bar variation, I threw in mixed berries, flax seed, and almonds. Finally, inspired by the Harmonious Blend bar, I added dried apricots, lemon, and honey*.
*Because two of these additions are liquid, you’ll also need a bit more flour. See the full recipe below for details.
Once the basic banana bread mixture is ready to go, these additional ingredients are gently folded in.
As you can imagine, these little tweaks, inspired by a snack, truly take what I call “basic” banana bread to a whole new level. I even sprinkled a bit of the leftover additions on the top of the bread before baking to dress up the loaf.
After about an hour in the oven, this banana bread was a treat for all of the senses. My stroke of inspiration on the Road to Hana was a success!
Let me walk you through the recipe.
Makes 2 loaves
Here's what you will need:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter flavor shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium, ripe bananas, mashed
*For traditional banana bread, add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the dry ingredients.
2 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen), chopped
4 tablespoons flax seed
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1 cup mini dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 tablespoons honey
Zest and juice from one lemon
2 tablespoons flour
Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom of two 9x5" loaf pans with baking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt*. Set aside.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter flavor shortening until combined. Next, beat in the eggs and vanilla. Finally, add the bananas and beat until well combined.
Add the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined.
To create any of the banana bread variations, gently fold in the additional ingredients until just combined but evenly distributed.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in pans for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pans to continue cooling on a wire rack.
*For traditional banana bread (without the variations), add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the dry ingredients.
Naturally, you can add whatever ingredients you’d like to make your banana bread special. However, if you’re a purist, like my dad, the basic recipe (with just a pinch of cinnamon) is quite delicious, too.
Which one of these banana bread variations do you think you’d like best? What’s your favorite way to dress up classic banana bread?
Now, before we leave, I promised a giveaway. The fine folks over at Curate Snacks wanted to pass along a special treat to one IBC reader.
THE GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. Thanks to all who entered.
So today I’m giving away 1 box of Curate Snack bars (The flavor is the winner’s choice.) and a $100 Amazon Gift to one lucky reader. We will keep the entry process simple. There are TWO WAYS to enter: 1. Leave a comment below telling me which Curate Snack bar you like (or would probably like) best. (You can view the bar flavors HERE.) 2. For a second entry, subscribe to Inspired by Charm’s Mailing list HERE; then comment AGAIN to indicate you have done so (or already do.) That’s it!
This giveaway is open to residents of the United States. You must be 18 years or older to win. Void where prohibited. One winner will be drawn randomly. This giveaway ends on Wednesday, August 24 at 11:59 pm ET. The winner will be emailed and announced at the top of this post.
Good luck to all!
I hope you enjoyed this post and my tasty take on banana bread. Stay tuned for more details about my adventures in Hawaii.