Friday, March 27, 2015

Cream Cheese Banana Bread

Banana bread.  It's a classic.  It's been around since the beginning of time.  Everyone has at least that one go to recipe for their all-time favorite banana bread.  It's safe to say banana bread has stood the test of time and it still remains a favorite.

Think about all the different variations.  There are literally thousands, and new ones are added to the list every. single. day.  Aside from bread, there are muffins, scones, and cakes.  I've never met a banana recipe I didn't like.  Perhaps, one of my favorite combinations is bananas and cream cheese.
Banana bread and cream cheese are no strangers.  It's a love story for the ages.  Think about it, banana cake slathered in cream cheese frosting.  Oh my goodness.  I could honestly eat the frosting itself, but I don't.  Well, normally I don't.  I've been known to take a spoon to the bowl of frosting, but hey, who hasn't.  Don't judge!
Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Banana bread.  I've seen several different variations, and yes, some have included cream cheese in them.  But, it was a layer of cream cheese in the center of the loaf, never actually incorporated into the batter itself.  And then there's this recipe.

I came across this cream cheese banana bread recipe on Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  I love her blog. Seriously, if you haven't ever perused her blog head over there.  I mean, make this bread, pop it in the oven and then go over there.  Because you will be hungry after the first 5 seconds of looking at her amazing recipes and pictures.
I could go on and on about her blog, but I'll let you check it out for yourselves and I'll tell you about this awesome bread.  I took one look at the picture of this bread and instantly knew I had to make it. The sweet, cinnamon topping was just screaming at me.  Then, seeing that cream cheese was actually incorporated into the batter, well I was sold.

The difference in this banana bread and all others is obvious at first bite.  Since this banana bread has the cream cheese mixed in the actual batter it completely alters the final product.  In a good way.  This bread is extremely light and fluffy with a smoother, more delicate crumb.  Then you've got the cinnamon topping that adds that crunchy, crispy texture to the top along with another layer of flavor.
This is definitely one of those recipes that you'll keep close at hand.  It's perfect for snacks, dessert and even an excuse to have something almost cake-like for breakfast...without the guilt of actually having cake!

Another plus regarding this recipe...as if you need any more reasons to make this bread.  It makes two loaves.  Honestly, you'll be glad it does because the first one will disappear within seconds of being cut.  But, if you're feeling generous, you can also give the additional loaf to a friend, neighbor or co-worker.  But, sharing isn't a requirement if you make this bread....it is a nice thought though!     

Cream Cheese Banana Bread
Ingredients:

3/4 Cup (1 1/2 sticks, 12 Tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (8oz) bar cream cheese
1 1/2 Cups sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tsp vanilla
1 Cup ripe bananas, mashed (approximately 3 bananas)
3 Cups flour
1/4 Tsp salt
1 Tsp baking powder
1 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp cinnamon
1/8 Tsp ground nutmeg

For the topping-
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tsp cinnamon
Pinch salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 2 (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch) loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray, set aside

Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Set aside.

Place cream cheese in a large bowl and beat on high until smooth and creamy, about 45-60 seconds.  Add the butter and mix until combined and smooth.  Add the sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add eggs, vanilla and bananas and mix until incorporated.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.

for the topping-
In a small bowl combine butter, flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt and mash together until the mixture is crumbly.

Sprinkle over the tops of the batter.  Place the bread in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the bread has a nice dome and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for 5-10 minutes, remove from pans and transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Recipe source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe, originally from Belle's Bazaar

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