DIY

I Made Gluten-Free Banana Bread For The First Time, And Honestly, I Should Open A Bakery

by Olivia Jakiel

i tried banana bread

If there’s one thing that should be engraved on my tombstone, it’s this: Olivia Jakiel, Best Banana Bread Baker Both Sides Of The Mississippi™. It’s what all my dating app bios say, what my coworkers tell me, and of course, what my mom brags about to her friends.

Another thing you should know about me is that I am an equal opportunity bread consumer. I freakin’ love ALL bread. Baguettes, croissants, white bread, marble bread, sourdough bread, bread rolls, hot dog buns, cinnamon raisin bread, focaccia bread, Olive Garden breadsticks; you put it in front of me, I’ll devour it. Challah at yo’ girl.

So imagine my utter disdain for life when I recently found out I am gluten intolerant. I generally stick to a low-carb diet (read: meat and veggies) and cook almost every meal myself, so I wasn’t getting sick on a daily basis, but I had noticed a pattern of getting violently ill after consuming anything with flour, wheat, etc. I saw my doctor, and she confirmed the bad news, and my first thought was, It’s the end of the world as I know it. No more fresh-baked bread, no more fun in the kitchen, no more gluttonous days of literally baking a loaf of bread for the sole purpose of eating all by myself.

I absolutely love cooking and making up my own recipes, and I’ve really gotten into baking the past year or so. Banana bread was my first venture into homemade dessert breads from scratch, so it holds a very special place in my heart. I started with a basic recipe I found online, and after a few trial-and-error runs, I perfected my own version of banana bread, along with a ton of variations as well. I’ve even perfected savory quick breads, which, if you haven’t made zucchini, bacon, cheddar, and jalapeño bread, what the heck are you doing with your life?

However, since my gluten sensitivity diagnosis, I have yet to attempt to make a gluten-free version of my famous banana bread; mostly because I’m afraid it won’t live up to the original version. With the holidays right around the corner, though, I figured this would be the perfect time to test my gluten-free baking skills and try making a loaf of delicious, gluten-free banana bread.

The Original Version

The Original Version
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

Just for comparison, this is a picture of the full-gluten version I usually make. I like to add fruit, chocolate, nuts, etc. to jazz up a plain, old, boring banana bread. In this case, I added blueberries on top, as well as in the batter. I also mixed in some white chocolate chips, because why not?

Gluten-Free Version: Ingredients

Gluten-Free Version: Ingredients
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

I can’t believe I’m sharing my super-secret recipe, but YOLO, it’s 2018 and the world is a trash fire, so here you go:

  • 1½ cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour (1:1 ratio)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into small squares
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1 heaping tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ to 1 tbsp. cinnamon (optional, but 10 out of 10 would recommend; it gives it a little je ne sais quoi)
  • Pam (not your neighbor, the cooking spray)

Optional add-ins:

  • Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries — basically 1 to 2 small cartons of any kind of berry
  • ½ cup white or milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, or macadamia nuts

Step 1

Step 1
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together the bulk of your dry ingredients: 1½ cups gluten-free flour, ½ tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. baking powder. Whisk everything around to make sure it’s all combined, then set aside.

Step 2

Step 2
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

Cut the butter into little squares, then toss into bowl with ½ cup of sugar. A lot of traditional recipes call for 1 cup of sugar, so if you typically like your banana bread a little sweeter, go ahead and add up to 1 cup. I like to use a little less than 1/2 cup of sugar, since adding fruit and chocolate to the batter gives the bread a touch more sweetness.

Cream the butter and sugar together. I do this with a fork because I like to do things in the most difficult and inefficient way possible and also feel like it makes it more “homemade,” but you can use a hand mixer.

Step 3

Step 3
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

Peel and break apart the ‘nanners, add them to a separate bowl, then mash the hell outta those suckers, girl. I used to do this with a fork (LOL) but found that a potato masher is extremely helpful and a little easier on the ol’ joints. I have arthritis at the ripe old age of 29, so anything that’s easier on my body is helpful. Add cinnamon and mix well.

Step 4

Step 4
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

Crack eggs in the same bowl as the creamed sugar, then dump in your cinnamon mashed bananas. Use your potato masher to combine, and mix until smooth.

Step 5

Step 5
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

Slowly combine your gluten-free flour mixture with the wet ingredients. I usually do this in two or three batches, mostly because I’ve seen people in baking videos do it this way, but to each their own. If you wanna dump it all in at once, more power to you.

I usually do this step by hand, because at my house (I’m currently using my parents’ kitchen), I don’t have access to a standing mixer. Plus, I feel like a little old grandma mixing everything with a wooden spoon. However, this absolutely KILLS my hands, and I usually have to take little breaks while forming the batter. That being said, just use a standing mixer if you have one.

Step 6

Step 6
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

Once you’ve got your batter looking something like this, add 1 heaping tbsp. of vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Step 7

Step 7
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

WHAT HAVE I DONE???

Just kidding.

If you’re adding any strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries, chop those bad boys up into bite-size pieces. If you’re adding chocolate chips, be sure to coat them in gluten-free flour before adding them to the batter; otherwise, they’ll sink to the bottom of the pan when you stick it in the oven.

Step 8

Step 8
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

Gently fold all your add-ins into the batter until everything is evenly combined. You can obviously skip this step if you’re one of those Banana Bread Purists my mother warned me about.

Step 9

Step 9
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

Get out your most festive molds, spray them with Pam, then add the batter, filling three-quarters of the way to the top. Since it’s fall, I’m using these incredibly cute and spooky ghost and pumpkin molds. If you don’t have something similar, you have a few options.

You can use either a 9×5 loaf pan (I’m sure that’s not the technical name for it, but that’s what I call it), or you can use a regular muffin tin.

Your cooking times will vary. For the pumpkin/ghost molds and normal muffin molds, bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until the edges start to brown and the tops are mostly firm. If you’re using a regular 9×5 pan, bake for 30 to 34 minutes until the edges begin to brown, cover with foil, then bake another 15 to 20 minutes.

If you’re unsure whether it’s done, you can do the old toothpick test; if it comes out clean, then your banana bread is done.

Step 10

Step 10
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

Ta-da! Take your beautiful banana bread out of the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Hello, 'tis I, your friendly neighborhood twentysomething stuck in a 70-year-old's body.

Hello, 'tis I, your friendly neighborhood twentysomething stuck in a 70-year-old's body.
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

And I come bearing gluten-free raspberry white chocolate chip banana bread.

The Results

The Results
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

A perfect golden brown! You can even (kind of) see the shape of the molds after I flipped each banana bread over. So festive!

The Final Test

The Final Test
Olivia Jakiel for LittleThings

Looks like banana bread to me! And the best part? It tastes just as good the non-gluten-free version I’m used to making!

BRB, opening up my gluten-free bakery.