Peanut Butter Gluten Free Banana Bread

I don’t know of a better way to express love than through bread.

There’s something about a hearty slice paired with coffee or tea shared with a friend discussing what’s on our hearts that gives a feeling of comfort and care. Whether it’s your grandma’s yeast bread recipe slathered with homemade jelly, a nutrient rich multi grain bread topped with a pretty green avocado, or a sweet quick bread bursting with fruit and nuts, they all have this almost unexplainable ability to almost wrap you in a hug.

When I reached for my overly ripe bananas, I wanted to make something out of my heart to share with those I love. I’ll admit, this isn’t a throw everything in a bowl then toss it in a pan recipe. As much as I appreciate those kind of recipes in a pinch, I wanted a little more love in this bread. It’ll take some time to make. But in my long recipes (and my life in general if we’re being honest), I cling to the wisdom of Julia Child who said, “nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should.”

Much of my culinary knowledge comes from the America’s Test Kitchen. If you’re serious about cooking or baking, you need one of their cookbooks. You literally can’t go wrong with any of them. They explain the science behind cooking and baking. They literally help you become a better cook.

They had a banana bread recipe that I’m sure is amazing, but the way to the hearts of the men in my life (and my own) is through peanut butter. So equipped with their recipe and a jar of peanut butter, I got to work.

If you want to make this recipe, get a food scale. I did not measure at all the flour or flax seed. Measuring should be done in all baking as it is so much more accurate, but it is essential to gluten free baking. Because unlike regular flour with only one ingredient, gluten free flour can vary in ingredients and quantity of said ingredients. So for instance, this recipe calls for 7 ounces of gluten free flour blend. In Bob’s Red Mill GF All-Purpose Baking Flour flour (I highly DON’T recommend; it has an off putting bean flavor to it), that would be 1 ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon. In King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour, 7 ounces would be 1 ¼ cup plus ½ tablespoon. See the issues here? Okay good. Get a scale.

The xanthan gum is essential to this recipe. Because it’s gluten free, the bread would be crumbly and lack structure without it. It is easy to find in the specialty flour section of your grocery store and a tiny bag will last you forever. (I’ve have kept mine in the freezer for 5+ years!)

Gluten free flour is tricky. It is unable to absorb moisture the way normal flour can. But what to bananas contain? Moisture. Lots of it. Microwaving the bananas releases the moisture out of them. But we can’t throw away that good banana juice! So we cook it down. Boom. Intense banana flavor, not too much moisture.

The other thing gluten free flour struggles with is fat. The amount of fat in normal recipes would make a gluten free recipe greasy. So I cut back severely on butter in order to incorporate peanut butter in and not ruin the bread. I needed to melt the butter in order for it to incorporate into the wet ingredients and since I was reducing the banana juice anyway, I plopped it in the skillet to melt. Then I thought to myself, “how great would this be if I browned the butter!?” Browning butter brings out a nutty, toffee like flavor in the fat. Perfect for a peanut butter banana bread!

To save a step, you can simply use chunky peanut butter instead of chopping up peanuts to add to the bread. I just didn’t have any on hand.

The banana on top is purely for decoration. It isn’t necessary, but it makes you definitely feel fancy!

Peanut Butter Gluten Free Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 7 oz. Gluten Free flour blend
  • 2 oz. Ground flax seed
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 large, VERY ripe bananas plus an extra for decoration, if desired
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ⅓ cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped peanuts plus more for topping

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan. Whisk flour blend, flax seed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
  2. Microwave 5 bananas in a microwave safe bowl, covered, until their moisture is released, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to a fine mesh strainer placed over a medium bowl and let drain for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Continue to cook butter, stirring frequently, until the butter is browned and gives a nutty fragrance, around 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Wipe out skillet and set aside for later use. Once cooled, add peanut butter, eggs, vanilla, and brown sugar. Stir well.
  4. When bananas have fully drained, put juice in previously used skillet. Cook banana juice over medium-high heat until reduced to about ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Mash bananas and add to peanut butter mix along with the banana juice. Stir well.
  5. Stir banana peanut butter mix into flour mix until thoroughly combined. Fold in chopped peanuts. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan. Top with extra banana sliced in half (if desired) and extra chopped peanuts.
  6. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out almost clean, about 50-65 minutes. Remove bread from oven and let cool I pan for 15 minutes or so. Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack for at least an hour. Enjoy!

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