Banana bread:  it’s easy to throw together, eliminates wasting old bananas, is a favorite at church potlucks, and can be enjoyed toasted for breakfast just as easily as a la mode for dessert.  Banana bread is like the fingerprint of each kitchen, everyone’s is different.  This simple bread can be moist, dry, full of nuts, over mixed and tough or tender; it can boast chunks of banana or may leave you wondering where the banana is; the loaf can be tall and billowy or squat and dense; and, in my opinion, is either really really good or unforgivably bad.  Overall though, banana bread is a staple in American cookery and even when we are in a hurry to get a last-minute potluck dish ready, we should celebrate this humble bread and give it the lovin’ it deserves.

As much as I love a good banana bread, there is another banana dessert that reigns as my all-time favorite banana (and quite possibly overall) dessert.  Warm ripe bananas, bathed in a gooey bath of melted brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and rum flambed table-side make Bananas Foster not only an entertaining dish, but irresistible as well.

Bananas Foster originated at Brennan’s New Orleans in 1951 and became a staple in many New Orleans restaurants.  Luckily with Houston’s proximity to New Orleans and a Brennan’s of our own, I am fully on the Bananas Foster bandwagon.

One of my resolutions for the upcoming year is to began testing recipes of my own, so I have been giving a lot of thought to recipe development and how I can make classic dishes in a unique way.  The thought of combining all the good aspects of Bananas Foster with the best features of banana bread has been on the back of my mind lately and after some brainstorming I have created a love-child of the two dishes.

The Bananas Foster recipe in the Brennan’s of Houston In Your Kitchen cookbook and the banana bread recipe from BakeWise served as starting points for this recipe, so thanks to them for the inspiration.

The result:  a super moist, supremely flavorful banana bread with an extra layer of complexity lent from the brown sugar and rum. Very much banana bread.  Memories of the New Orleans favorite.

Bananas Foster Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Inspired by recipes in BakeWise and Brennan’s Houston in Your Kitchen

Note:  As I don’t have a gas stove and I don’t want to burn down the apartment complex, I did not flambe the bananas as is traditionally done with Bananas Foster – you may if you like.  Also, this bread doesn’t scream Bananas Foster, but is more reminiscent of the flavors.  It is a darn good banana bread!

For Bananas:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup dark rum

5 medium ripe bananas, sliced lengthwise and halved into quarters

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For Bread:

1 cup whole pecans

1 tablespoon butter

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla exract

2 large eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Toast pecans:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Place pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until fragrant.  Immediately toss with 1 tablespoon butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Set aside to cool and then chop coarsely.

Make bananas:

In a large skillet, combine butter brown sugar and two tablespoons of the rum and let melt together over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbly.  Immediately add bananas and cook for one minute, poking bananas with tine of a fork to allow juices to flow through fruit.  Stir in cinnamon and remaining two tablespoons of rum and let cook for about 30 more seconds.

Remove bananas from heat and reserve two of the banana quarters in a small bowl (to use later to garnish bread).  Using a fork, mash-up bananas in the sugar mixture.  Set aside.

Make bread:

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Butter and lightly dust a loaf pan (8 1/2-inch-by-4 1/2-inch) with flour.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.  In a medium bowl, combine oil, vanilla extract, eggs, buttermilk, and banana mixture.  Pour banana mixture into dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

In a cold bowl, beat whipping cream, continuing to beat just beyond the point of stiff points.  Stir half of whipped cream into batter until well combined, then fold in remaining whipped cream until no big lumps remain.  Carefully fold in toasted nuts.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth to distribute evenly.  Place the two reserved banana quarters decoratively over the batter.  If you have any leftover pecans, feel free to garnish top of bread with them as well.  Bake until golden brown and a skewer stuck in the center of the bread comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Serve with a dab of whipped cream or with vanilla ice cream (I ate it both ways and both were great).