Break out of your same old banana bread routine. Use those old bananas to make this healthy Banana Yeast Bread in your bread machine. It’s slightly sweet with a sugar-cardamom mixture sprinkled over the top.
No worries if you don’t have a bread machine. See the recipe notes for how to make this recipe with a stand mixer or by hand.
This is easily one of my favorite yeast bread recipes. If given the choice, I would choose a slice of this over a piece of traditional banana bread any day.
Eat it for breakfast, make a jelly sandwich for lunch, eat it with chicken salad for a light supper, and make sweet cinnamon melba toasts with leftovers the next day. Call me. I want to enjoy it with you.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Flour: I love that this recipe calls for part whole wheat flour. More fiber and protein never tasted so good. Bread flour constitutes the rest of the flour requirement. You could use all-purpose unbleached flour instead of bread flour, but you may need to add a tablespoon more. Decide that after you start mixing the dough and check the dough consistency.
- Milk: I used milk for years. But since yogurt has taken over my life, I substitute it whenever I can.
- Bananas: If your bananas are not very soft, you may need to add some extra water. Peek at the dough after the bread machine has been running a few minutes to determine if more is needed.
- Honey: Because of the dried fruits and banana in this recipe, you could leave the honey out. If you don’t have honey in the house, maple syrup will work.
- Yeast: Use instant or bread-machine yeast (no difference) as specified by the recipe. If you only have active-dry yeast on hand, dissolve the yeast in the 1/3 cup of water the recipe calls for. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients as directed.
- Nuts: Pecans or almonds are specified in the recipe. Walnuts or macadamia nuts would make a good substitute. Be sure to toast the nuts for maximum flavor. It’s easy to toast nuts with a paper plate in the microwave.
- Dates and Raisins: You can leave out either of these ingredients if you prefer. They add quite a bit of sweetness though. Chopped dried figs could be subbed for the dates.
- Cardamom: Fragrant cardamom comes in pods or seeds. For this recipe, you want the green seeds in the ground form. This spice is pretty easy to find at the grocery store. If you are wondering what to do with the rest of the jar, here are 25 Suggestions for Ways To Use Cardamom from the Cooking Channel.
Since you are only sprinkling it on top of the bread, it can be left out.
Banana-Pecan Yeast Bread: Replace the whole-wheat flour with a cup of bread flour or unbleached flour. Replace the honey with 1/4 cup of sugar.
Can I make this ahead of time?
This bread is best eaten the day it’s made. Unlike store-bought yeast bread, there are no preservatives.
If you can’t eat it all the first day, I have two suggestions:
- Slice the bread. Wrap the slices individually in plastic wrap. Store in the freezer. When you need a snack or a jelly sandwich, take a couple of slices out to thaw for a few minutes. Delicious snack.
- If you find your bread has gone a bit stale a day or two later, make Cinnamon Crispy Toasts.
How To Make a Braid
More Tips and Recipes for Bread Machines
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- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup warm milk or yogurt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut up
- 1 small ripe banana, mashed (or approximately 1/2 cup or 5 ounces)
- 1 cup (120 g) whole-wheat flour
- 1 3/4 (210g) bread flour (can substitute all-purpose unbleached)
- 2 teaspoons (8g) bread-machine or instant yeast
- 1/2 c. (65 g) toasted pecans or almonds
- 1/3 c. (50 g) raisins
- 1/4 c. (45g) chopped dates
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (this is the secret ingredient–won’t be the same without it)
- Combine all dough ingredients (except the nuts, raisins, and dates) into a bread-machine pan in the order given. Set on the DOUGH cycle. When machine signals it's time for "add-ins", add nuts and dried fruit.
- At the end of the cycle, if the dough has risen to double its size, remove dough from pan. If not double, leave the dough in the machine until it has doubled. Remove to a lightly-floured surface and form into a ball. Allow dough ball to rest for 10 minutes.
- Divide into 3 equal portions. Form into 3 cylinders each about 12 inches long. Braid as shown in the picture, tucking the ends under.
- Transfer to a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Let rise for about 45 minutes covered with a soft tea towel.
- (If the idea of braiding intimidates you, divide the dough into three balls and place side by side in a loaf pan.)
- Brush milk lightly over raised loaf. Combine sugar with cardamom and sprinkle on top of the braid.
- Bake at 375˚ F for 30-35 minutes or until done.
- Note: You may need to cover the loaf with foil halfway through to protect the top crust from over-browning before the loaf is cooked in the middle. If you have a quick-read digital thermometer, which I recommend if you intend to make very much bread, the temperature should be close to 190°F
Directions for making bread with a stand mixer or by hand:
- To make this recipe in a heavy-duty stand mixer, add ingredients to the bowl in the same order. Turn on low to mix until all ingredients are moistened. Using the dough hook, turn speed to 2 or 3 and continue beating/kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic about 5-10 minutes. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape rolls as indicated in the recipe.
- If making by hand, combine all ingredients into a shaggy ball in a large bowl. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead with your hands until dough becomes smooth and elastic, a process that will likely take 10-20 minutes depending on your experience. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate dough gently and shape rolls as indicated in the recipe
- Please note: If you substitute regular yeast for instant or bread machine yeast, you must dissolve it first before adding to the dry ingredients. Stir it into about 1/4 cup of the lukewarm liquid called for in the recipe. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Add to other wet ingredients and then add dry ingredients. Proceed as directed to knead and shape rolls.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 166Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 85mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 4g