It’s safe to say most bakers have a favourite banana bread. For years, I did. The recipe, based on a beloved Jean Pare standard, made its way into our wedding cookbook so family and friends could make it, too. Through the years, that bread used up many a turned banana bunch on our kitchen counter.
You probably can tell where this is going.
Last year, Food & Wine published a recipe for Miso Banana Bread. I was so intrigued; mainly because I often buy massive containers of miso with great intention to scrape through the whole thing, only to throw it out a year later minus that heaping tablespoon used for soup, worried it’s turned. Ever consistent, I carted home a big tub of white miso on a recent trip to Tokyo and it’s been staring me down from the condiment shelf ever since.
From a perspective of balance, the recipe just makes sense; we often use salt in sweet recipes for balance, and vice-versa. A deep, umami base of miso is just right to balance and add complexity against the cloying sweetness of banana, which sometimes can make a loaf taste one-note.
The recipe benefits from a full quarter-cup of miso and four mashed bananas, for heady banana overtones and tender crumb. I add a generous topping of crunchy sesame seeds for even more depth. Having now made the recipe twice, I can confirm I prefer it with the sesame addition, and a few other modifications: a second flour for depth, decreased sugar, no added salt and a shorter cooking time. The original recipe is excellent if you prefer a sweeter, denser, more cake-like loaf.
Sesame Miso Banana Bread
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup white miso
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 4 medium-size overripe bananas, mashed
- 1 cup flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp raw sesame seeds
- 1 medium banana, sliced in half lengthwise
Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a standard metal loaf tin with parchment paper overhanging the sides.
Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and miso at medium speed until fluffy. Scrape down bowl.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flours, baking soda and baking powder.
At low speed, add to the stand mixer buttermilk, then beat in the eggs. Beat in the mashed bananas (the batter will look curdled). Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle sesame seeds across the loaf, concentrating more in the middle. Arrange the banana slices over top as pictured.
Bake for about 75 minutes, until the top of the loaf is burnished and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack for 30 minutes before gently pulling from the pan and slicing.
Keep the bread, wrapped on the counter, for up to three days. It also freezes like a dream for later thawing and toasting.