One of my first baking experiences with out my mom was banana bread. I was in art school away from home for the first time and of course, a vegetarian. I worked at a vegetarian restaurant and did some baking for it while I waitressed making $2.00 an hour plus $2.00 worth of food off the menu. I?d order a salad for $1.25 and my boyfriend Brian would come up to my work and eat the other .75 in a carob sundae?and that?s all we could afford to eat all day! I also would pick dandelions out of the cemetery near our apartment while walking home from college to our apartment (we couldn?t afford a car) and would cook them with onion soup boullion for our dinner. I weighed 112 then?In my hand-written recipe books, it?s the first recipe I ever wrote, so me and banana bread go way back. This one is dressed up with an ooooy gooooy nutty caramel top of brown sugar and butter which help slowly baste the banana slices as they bake in the oven. Pineapple upside down-cake move over!
Recipe courtesy of Gale Gand
Show: Sweet Dreams
1 hr 30 min
30 min
2 cups
1 hr 30 min
30 min
2 cups


  • 1/3 pound hazelnuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup banana puree, from 1 or 2 bananas
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Hazelnut schmear, recipe follows
  • Whole bananas
Hazelnut Schmear:
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 pound dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts


Watch how to make this recipe.

Special equipment: 9-inch cake pan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the cake pan. 

Toast the nuts and let them cool completely. 

In a food processor, grind the nuts with the sugar until very fine. 

Using a hand-held mixer, cream the butter; then add the sugar mixture. Add the eggs and mix. Add the sour cream and vanilla and stir. Mix in the banana puree. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt to make a smooth batter. 

To bake, cover the bottom of the cake pan with some of the warmed hazelnut schmear (microwave 40 seconds or so). Fan some banana slices over it and spoon in the batter. 

Bake until just set, about 35 to 40 minutes. Keep warm in a low oven and turn it out at the last minute.

Hazelnut Schmear:

Melt the butter. Remove from the heat and whisk in the brown sugar and the nuts. Store in the refrigerator.

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