For a long time I thought banana bread might be the best thing in the world. Sweet (but not so sweet you feel the cavities coming in), moist on the inside, crisp on the outside. Fragrant, filling, and not very fussy. I recently realized I had been wrong- cranberry banana bread is better. It’s everything banana bread is, but every bite is punctuated by bright, sharp, sour notes from the gem-like cranberries. The contrast in the flavors is wonderful, and really elevates the already amazing banana bread.
Interestingly, although I love banana bread, I don’t really like bananas that much. I eat them every now and then, but I’ve always had a bit of an issue with their squishy texture and the chalky feeling film that seems to coat your mouth after eating them. But I LOVE cooking with them- they have amazing egg-like binding qualities for vegan baking, and their mushy texture makes them easily integrate into whatever tasty good you have a baking. If you’ve made this cranberry banana bread, and still have more bananas you want to bake with you can try my 5-ingredient banana peanut butter cookies or this banana granola.
Cranberries are another ingredient I love working with- bright and sour, they’re actually the state fruit of Massachusetts. One of our favorite walks to go on takes us by a cranberry bog, and in the conservation lands around our home you can sometimes even find wild cranberries growing. Seeing those beautiful bright berries always makes me think of glittering gemstones- rubies maybe- floating carelessly in the shallow pools. If you’re looking for another cranberry recipe (maybe a healthier, less sweet one), try out this Cranberry Lima Bean Salad. And although this recipe only uses cranberry juice and not the whole berry, these Chocolate Coated Cranberry Wood Ear Mushrooms are a truly original recipe for any adventurous cranberry lover.
I’ve been looking for an unsalted vegan butter in stick form for a long time- salted butter is really just not needed for baking. Since I had yet to find an unsalted version, I’ve been having to adjust the salt when I’m veganizing non-vegan recipes, which is a little annoying. However, I am excited to share that I’ve actually found an unsalted vegan butter, and I used it in this recipe. Not only is it vegan (one of those ‘accidentally vegan’ products), but it was pretty affordable. Fleischmann’s unsalted original sticks are actually vegan, and only about $2 for a pound. Keep in mind that their salted sticks are NOT vegan. Why? Who knows but it’s one of those happy little bit’s of random-ness that is going to make vegan baking a lot cheaper.
As far as making this banana bread is concerned, it’s pretty easy. In the spirit of a no-fuss recipe, I’ve mixed all the ingredients in one bowl, starting by mashing the banana, then adding all the wet ingredients and finally mixing in the dry. The loaf bakes for over an hour, until you’re whole house smells like banana and vanilla and you literally can’t wait any more. Next comes the cruel joke as you have to wait an entire hour for the loaf to cool. Although I suppose if you don’t care about silly things like the loaf cutting evenly, you could just dive right in.
Vegan Cranberry Banana Bread
- 3 ripe (or over-ripe) bananas
- 1 cup vegan sugar
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan butter, melted
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup fresh cranberries, cut in half
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9×5” loaf pan and set aside.
2. In a large bowl use a potato masher (or fork) to puree the bananas, making sure not to leave any large pieces. Add the sugar, butter, vanilla, vinegar and water and mix well. Next add the flour, baking soda and salt, stirring until it is evenly combined. Finally fold the cranberries into the batter.
3. Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When it is done the top should be browned, and the crack in the dough should be dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Loosen the edges with a butter knife by gently guiding it along the circumference before removing the loaf from the dish. Allow it to cool completely before eating (at least an hour), or the loaf will crumble and won’t cut properly.