Salted Caramel Banana Bread
A delicious one-bowl banana bread that comes together with just 10 ingredients! Adding the vegan caramel sauce makes for an extra decadent finish. It’s a delicious twist on the classic. Vegan. <jump to recipe>
Banana bread is one of those treats that you never grow out of loving. As a kid, a slice of banana bread tucked into my lunch bag was just as good as winning the lottery. And even after all this time, I still get excited about it. There’s nothing quite like cozying up with a mug of tea/coffee and a thick slice of banana bread. You can serve it to guests as dessert or enjoy it solo as an afternoon snack. On really rushed days, banana bread is even there for you as a quick breakfast on-the-go. Sure, it’s not the healthiest breakfast out there, but I’d definitely take a slice over a hangry stomach and a regretful purchase on the way to work. Wouldn’t you?
This recipe starts with a better-for-you banana bread, that’s completely vegan and made with whole grain spelt flour. The loaf is soft, moist and sweetened just right - so nobody will be the wiser that white flour and butter are nowhere to be seen. This one bowl banana bread requires just ten ingredients, almost all of which are likely sitting in your kitchen. So if you have some very ripe bananas on hand, you are SO CLOSE to banana bread deliciousness.
The vegan banana bread can definitely be enjoyed on its own. But, if you like the sound of salted caramel sauce, then you’ve also come to the right place. Bananas and caramel are a match made in heaven, so it felt like a great idea to top the loaf with a luscious salted caramel sauce. I slightly tweaked one of my older vegan caramel sauces for a thicker version that would better suit this recipe. The method remains the same, relying on coconut sugar for the caramel-like flavor, and skipping the traditional process of browning white sugar into caramel. I did indeed test the traditional refined sugar method (along with ten other variations of caramel, ugh); but in the end, this one won for both taste and simplicity.
Thanks to the coconut cream base, the caramel sauce naturally thickens when left in the fridge. After setting in the fridge overnight, the color lightens into a very thick, spoonable caramel spread. It's pretty neat, because this sauce allows you to choose your own adventure. For a pourable caramel sauce that’s more like a liquid-y glaze, refrigerate the sauce for less time. If you want a thicker caramel, that can be spread like the version pictured, then leave it in the fridge for longer (overnight at minimum, ideally for one full day). The caramel sauce thickens considerably as it cools. This recipe features a salted caramel sauce, but if you or your kids prefer an unsalted version, then simply reduce the salt to a pinch. That way you won’t taste it, it'll just enhance the flavor.
We like serving this loaf when friends/family come over, because the banana bread can be made in advance - and everyone gets excited when they see the caramel sauce being added just before serving. You can either top the whole loaf with caramel, or drizzle it on top of individual slices (bonus points if you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream).
There are a few options for storing extra banana bread: on the counter, in the fridge, or in the freezer. In any case, it should be tightly covered or sealed in a container, to help retain its moisture. A cake dome works well too - but if you're like us and don't have one, you could use a plate and an upside down mixing bowl instead. If storing the banana bread on counter, it should last 1-2 days at room temperature. The caramel on top will darken as it warms up, but the taste will be just as delicious. To preserve a lighter color caramel, it needs to be kept cool. You can store the caramel-glazed loaf in the fridge for up to 3 days. The fridge does tend to dry out bread and loaves (more so than a freezer); so while the banana bread has a head start being so moist, I wouldn't keep it in there for longer than that. Alternatively, you can freeze the banana bread (whole or sliced), and then once it's back to room temperature, top with chilled caramel. The caramel keeps in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
SALTED CARAMEL BANANA BREAD
MAKES 1 (9-INCH) LOAF - VEGAN
2 tablespoons ground flax
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (4-5 bananas)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup cane sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups spelt flour (250 g)*
Easy Vegan Salted Caramel, chilled (recipe below)
Optional: Flaky salt, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 9x5-inch (23x13 cm) loaf pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together ground flax and warm water until smooth and free of clumps. Add mashed banana and coconut oil and whisk until evenly incorporated. Whisk in cane sugar, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Measure flour then add it to the large bowl. Swap over to a spatula or wooden spoon, then gently stir until the flour is just combined. Avoid over-mixing, which makes quick-breads tough, so use as few strokes as possible to incorporate. Transfer batter to parchment lined baking pan. Bake for approximately 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the loaf to cool in the pan for a minimum of 15-20 minutes, prior to transferring it to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Once the loaf is completely cool, and just before serving, top with the Easy Vegan Salted Caramel sauce. If desired, garnish with flaky salt. Serve immediately.
-*For best results use a kitchen scale to measure flour. Otherwise, fluff up flour in the bag, prior to scooping. Use the flat end of the knife to level off the measuring cup.
-The caramel sauce takes time to cool and set up, so if using, make sure you’ve made it the night before.
-If using flaky salt for garnish, do so immediately before serving. The salt will dissolve into the caramel relatively quickly, making them harder to see (although you'll still taste it).
-Banana bread can be stored covered at room temperature for 1-2 days (place in a cool, dark spot in your kitchen). Otherwise, consider freezing the banana bread on its own. Ensure the loaf fully cooled and wrapped well prior to freezing; top with caramel immediately before eating.
EASY VEGAN SALTED CARAMEL
MAKES 1/3 CUP CARAMEL - VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE
1/2 cup coconut cream, scooped from top of can*
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
1/4 teaspoon salt (fine grain)
Add coconut cream, coconut sugar and maple syrup to a small sauce pot. Bring to a bubble over medium heat, and stir until the coconut sugar is dissolved.
Reduce heat to medium-low, so that the mixture is only bubbling gently. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick to the sides of the pot or burn.
Whisk vanilla and salt into the caramel mixture, then remove from heat. Transfer mixture to a sealed container and place in the refrigerator to set. Will keep for 1-2 weeks in the fridge.
-*For this recipe, you want 1/2 cup of the coconut solids that sit at the top of a can of coconut cream or coconut milk. In the store, give the can a shake before buying it. Cans that have the coconut solids separated at the top should not make much of a sloshing noise when shaken. It varies by can (as well as brand), so be sure to test. Try to pick a brand that doesn't contain additives (which prevent cream from separating); good choices are Savoy or Aroy-D. If you're having trouble finding a can that allows the cream to separate, then scoop out as much of the solids as you can (or if not possible, at least make sure the can is well mixed). Follow the same instructions and method, but leave the coconut caramel in the fridge longer. It should still set, but will likely take closer to one full day (rather than overnight).
-The caramel will firm up and lighten in color the longer it stays in the fridge. Give it a good stir, to re-mix, before using. To bring the caramel back to a more liquid state, either leave it out at room temperature or place it in a warm water bath until it reaches your desired consistency.
Recipe adapted from my Caramel Apple Sticky Cinnamon Buns recipe