Confession: I am not a baker. Though I can appreciate the scientific nature of the craft, I find it difficult to stick to an exact recipe. But sometimes the stars align and you have leftover bananas and a wave of inspiration and the Five Spice Banana Bread is born.
This Five Spice Banana Bread is perfect for a snack, a quick breakfast, or even dessert. (Is adding a scoop of ice cream too much? No? Thought so.)
Five Spice is a blend of well, five spices. While there are many variations from around the world, I used Chinese Five Spice here – the blend is equal parts cinnamon, cloves, ground fennel, star anise, and Sichuan pepper. This makes it equally delicious in sweet and savory recipes.
Seriously! It goes with anything, from drinks to dinner. Here are a few recipes using Five Spice:
- Spiced Whiskey Sour (via Cooking Light)
- Five-Spice Salmon with Leeks in Parchment (via MyRecipes)
- Five-Spice Noodles with Broccoli (via Serious Eats)
- Five-Spice Pickled Carrots (via Food52)
Since traditional banana bread has two of the five spices already, I thought, “why not?” The more savory spices add complexity to a classic, while the cinnamon and clove contribute the familiar warm and sweet spice notes.
If you are feeling extra ambitious, you can toast and grind the spices yourself. Or, you can buy a jar from the store, which is what I did.
Since dried and ground spices lose a little bit of their flavor edge, you can ”bloom” them. This enhances the flavors of the spice giving them more of a punch. To bloom spices, gently heat them in oil or butter until they become fragrant. That’s it! The whole process only makes a few minutes, and the extra step is worth the flavor.
- 1 cup mashed banana 2-3 ripe bananas
- ⅓ cup butter
- 1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar see note
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder or ½ teaspoon each cinnamon, ground ginger, and all-spice
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons crystalized ginger finely chopped (optional)
Bloom the Five Spice
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat, adding the five spice powder
- Allow the spices and oil to warm gently for 3-4 minutes, or until the spices are fragrant.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Make the Batter
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the banana, brown sugar, egg, baking soda, and salt. Stir together until completely combined. Add the oil and spices, to the mixture.
- Add the flour to the bowl, and stir together using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until all of the ingredients have just combined. (You may still have a few lumps!)
- Gently fold in the chopped crystallized ginger (if using).
Bake the Bread
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with butter or cooking sprat, then pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Use a spatula or butter knife to even out the batter in the pan.
- Bake at 350ºF for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean at the center. Wait at least 15 minutes before slicing.