Crunchy Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Anyone who is anyone knows that there is one reigning Queen of Banana Bread named Allie in New York City right now…and it’s not me. Ha! Allie’s Banana Bread is so hot, its “drops” sell out in less than a minute; I’ve been lucky to grab two drops – her Oreo Banana Bread is the epitome of hedonism – and I’ve also swooped up many a loaf at Butterfield Market on the Upper East Side. The demand is high, like concert tickets or counting down the minutes for Beyoncé to drop her next Ivy Park x Adidas collaboration: You’ve gotta be ready with your credit card info SAVED on your computer, because missing out = being bummed out!

I must be truthful, seeing Allie’s Banana Bread lit a spark in me recently to give a stab at trying a new method to make banana bread, and I am really pleased with the results, even if it take a bit of pre-work.

My first loaf of ABB was her peanut butter loaf – which I accidentally bought at Butterfield instead of a regular loaf, since I wasn’t paying attention – but was not disappointed when I tucked into it, quite the opposite, in fact! Peanut butter & bananas are a match made in heaven; I’m NOT on Team Peanut Butter & Chocolate, to the shock and chagrin of many I state that fact to. (Not sorry, y’all can KEEP your Reese’s.) But give me some PB and a banana, and I am a happy camper. Having peanut butter in banana bread was a first for me with that Allie’s loaf, and I felt this overwhelming urge to recreate it.

I’ve played with peanut butter in baking before, and I have not been happy with the results. While not baking, don’t get me started on my banana ice cream with a peanut butter swirl recipe from many moons back. (Search this site all you want, you won’t find it anymore! Ha!) Absolute. Complete. Disaster. However, I now know how that recipe can be improved upon in the future, and the trick isn’t creamy globs and swirls of peanut butter: it’s frozen chunks!

I recall seeing a very polarizing article online a few years back about folks that spread peanut butter onto parchment paper, freeze it, then cut into squares in order to make peanut butter & jelly sandwiches en masse. Some people thought this was genius, while others heatedly debated, “Well, why not just spread the peanut butter on the bread IMMEDIATELY so you don’t have to wait for hours to make some peanut butter sandwiches?!” I’m Team Spread The Peanut Butter On The Bread NOW, but the concept of freezing peanut butter got my mind thinking. When I’ve added it to baking or my ill-conceived ice cream in its room temperature form, its spread has been uneven; one part of my baked goods may have tons of peanut butter, while other sides have none at all. Freezing peanut butter and cutting it into small cubes allows control of the spread, as well as makes for luscious pockets of peanut butter to sink your teeth into with each bite of banana bread.

Now, I’ll gladly do the obvious counterpoint here:

“Well, screw this, I’m just getting peanut butter chips. Why would I wait for hours and cut up cubes of frozen peanut butter when I can buy peanut butter chips at the store?”

Honey, you do you, but I find this method to be so wholly satisfying. Do something different and freeze that peanut butter! Shake up your routine and put in a little elbow grease. Plus, you’ll save some money. I spent $1.59 of a jar of crunchy peanut butter from Trader Joe’s; a bag of peanut butter chips from my local grocery store are $3.99. I’ll save all the pennies I can.

Crunchy Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Ingredients:

Frozen Crunchy Peanut Butter Chunks

  • – 8 oz. crunchy peanut butter, thoroughly mixed 

Banana Bread

  • – 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, unsalted
  • – 1/2 light brown sugar, packed
  • – 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • – 2 large eggs
  • – 1/4 cup milk (I use whole milk)
  • – 1 capful vanilla extract 
  • – 4 banana, ripened
  • – 2 cups flour (I’ve used all-purpose and white wheat)
  • – 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • – 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • – 3/4 cup frozen crunchy peanut butter chunks, divided into 1/2 cup & 1/4 cup portions

Before We Get Started…

  • – Have ample parchment paper on hand for both freezing the peanut butter and for your loaf pan.
  • – The recipe has only been tested in a standard loaf pan, roughly 8.5″ x 4.5″ x 2.5″ inches.
  • – If you prefer easier removal of your banana bread from the loaf pan, have cooking spray on hand to spray parchment paper.

Directions:

Crunchy Frozen Peanut Butter Chunks
 1.) Thoroughly mix a jar of crunchy peanut butter, making sure peanut pieces are throughly incorporated throughout. 

2.) Line a shallow container with parchment paper that slightly overlaps the sides; this way, you can easily remove the peanut butter when frozen. I’d suggest something close to a 6″ x 3″ container. Pour peanut butter into container and spread so it is even. Place in your freezer for at least 4 hours, overnight is preferable.

3.) Once frozen, remove peanut butter from container but keep parchment paper beneath it. Place on a cutting board surface and dice into small chunks, roughly 1/2″ x 1/2″, or 1 cm. x 1 cm. Place chunks carefully back into container and place in freezer until ready to use. 

Banana Bread
 1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line loaf pan with parchment paper that slightly overlaps the size for easy removal of baked banana bread. If desired, spray parchment paper with cooking oil for an easier release. 

2.) Chop butter into pieces, and microwave for 30 seconds; stir, then microwave for an additional 30 seconds. Stir until completely melted. Alternatively, chop butter into pieces and melt in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until melted.

3.) In a large bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until sugar has started to melt into the butter and the three are combined.

4.) Add eggs, milk, and vanilla extract into butter-sugar mixture. Whisk until combined.

5.) Add two of the bananas to the mixture and smash with either a potato smasher or a fork until incorporated into the mix. Take the third banana, cut into slightly large chunks, then fold into the mixture. Take the fourth banana and cut a thin length-wise strip from the top; set aside to place on top of batter in the pan for decoration. Chop up remainder of 4th banana and add to mixture.

6.) Place flour, baking soda, and salt through a sifter into the mixture to ensure there are no lumps of flour. Use a spatula to combine the dry ingredients in until combined, but do not overmix.

7.) Remove crunchy peanut butter chunks from freezer, and sprinkle roughly 1/2 of a cup into the batter, folding in slowly; once these chunks come back to room temperature, they can melt fast, and we want to maintain the integrity of them in chunk form as best as possible. 

8.) Pour batter into loaf pan, sprinkling remaining frozen crunchy peanut butter chunks on top and adorning with thin banana slice. Bake for 70 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted. 

9.) Cool banana bread in pan for 15 minutes before removing from pan, and allow to cool for another 15 minutes if eating immediately. Wrap all unused banana bread tightly in plastic wrap and store in a cool place; the banana bread should last up to four days. 

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