How to make Yeasted Banana Bread

How to make banana yeast bread

Banana bread is no stranger to most of us, but somewhere around 99.99% of banana bread recipes turn out quick breads (breads leavened with baking powder or baking soda rather than yeast).

I love banana quick breads and muffins, to be sure, but sometimes it’s a little fun to shake things up and make a yeast bread with overripe bananas.

Plus, this bread is kind of a looker.

yeasted banana bread

Aaand if you prefer a lighter, less-sweet banana bread, this will be right up your alley…it’s more like bread and less like cake.

I used to make this when I was a teenager, and the recipe comes from my beloved 1970s Better Homes and Gardens bread cookbook.  I’d sort of forgotten about it until I ended up with 10 super ripe bananas recently, so I decided this was a good time to dust off the recipe!

To start, you’ll need to mash some overly ripe bananas.

You can do this in a food processor, but because I am too lazy to get it out and wash it, I just use a potato masher.

mashed bananas

I never get the bananas as fine as the food processor does, but this seems to have no ill effect on the end product.

Easy for the win!

You’ll also need to combine the milk, sugar, butter, and salt and heat it to around 120° F.  The microwave is super convenient for this and I do it right in the measuring cup.

hot milk for bread dough

Combine 2 cups of the flour with the dry yeast.

active dry yeast with flour

Mix the yeast and flour together.  Then you’ll pour in the milk mixture and add the bananas, an egg, and an egg yolk.

(We’re reserving one white for glazing the loaves later.)

eggs for banana bread

At this point, the dough will be a lot more like batter and you’ll beat it on medium speed for about 3 minutes.

banana bread batter

Now you’re going to add in as much of the remaining flour as necessary to make a kneadable dough.

I like my dough to be fairly soft when I start to knead it, but you can make yours a little stiffer than mine if you like.

bread dough ready to knead

Here’s what it’ll look like when you dump it out.

bread dough before kneading

And once you knead it, it should look more like this.  See how it’s still soft enough to sort of flatten out a bit on the counter?

kneaded bread dough

That’s good because when dough is very stiff, the yeast bubbles have a hard time lifting it, and the result is heavy bread.

Softer dough will rise up beautifully, though.

Place the dough in a bowl, cover it with a wet tea towel, and leave it to rise for an hour.

Once it’s done rising, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and divide it in half.

divide bread dough

Then you’ll want to make each half into a round loaf.  I do this by pulling the outer edges around so that there’s a smooth surface on the top and sort of an ugly mess on the bottom, like so.

bottom of banana bread loaf

It takes a little bit of practice to do this easily, especially with a ball of dough this size, but it’s the best way I’ve found to make nice smooth yeast dough balls for loaves, buns, or rolls.

Place each loaf onto a greased baking sheet.  You could try to fit two on one sheet, but I think it’s too crowded that way.

Cover each loaf with a wet tea towel and let the loaves rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F about ten minutes before the rising time is up so the oven is nice and hot when your bread is ready to bake.

Then whisk an egg white together with a teaspoon of water.  Brushing this over the unbaked loaves will help them develop a beautiful sheen while they bake.

egg white wash for bread

Brush over the whole loaf, and then use a knife to make slashes on the loaf, like so:

slash risen bread dough

I find that a knife with really shallow serrations works great for a task like this.

Pop your loaf into the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, then remove loaf to a wire rack to cool.

(And put your other loaf in the oven to bake!)

yeasted round banana bread

Then slice, butter, and enjoy.

banana yeast bread

Since the recipe makes two loaves, and since it has no preservatives, you’ll probably want to freeze one so that it doesn’t dry out before you get to it.

If you have a small family, try cutting the loaves in half and freezing each half separately.  That way you can defrost just one half at a time.

Yeasted Banana Bread

Printable Yeasted Banana Bread Recipe
makes 2 round loaves

5.5-6 cups all purpose flour (Gold Medal Unbleached is the BEST)
2 pkg. active dry yeast
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
2 ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
2 eggs

In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast with 2 cups of the flour.

In a measuring cup, combine the milk, sugar, butter, and salt, and heat to 115°F.

With the mixer running, add the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Then add mashed bananas, 1 egg, and 1 egg yolk (reserve the white for brushing over the loaves.)

Beat at low speed until combined, then beat at medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft, but kneadable dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 3-5 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Place dough in bowl, cover with wet tea towel, place in a warm spot and let rise for 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface, divide in half, and shape each half into a round loaf. Place each loaf on a greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise til double (30-45 minutes).

Use a knife with shallow serrations to make slashes around the loaf as shown in the photos. Beat egg white with 1 teaspoon water; brush over loaves.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to cool on a wire rack, and place second loaf in oven to bake.

Grandma’s Homemade Cinnamon (or Apricot) Sweet Rolls

apricot sweet rolls

Back in June, I posted a photo of some homemade cinnamon rolls on Instagram (I’m thefrugalgirl there if you want to follow me!), and many of you requested that I share the recipe.

I’d only made the cinnamon version that day, though, and I wanted to wait until I made an apricot batch too so that I could show you both varieties.

grandma's homemade cinnamon rolls

I’ve shared an overnight cinnamon roll recipe here before, but these rolls are free-form (the shaping method is quite different) and they bake on a sheet instead of in a 9×13 pan.

I can’t really say that one is better than the other, as both varieties are really delicious.  You should probably make both kinds and decide for yourself.  ;)

The dough for these rolls is the same dough I use to make my bread bears, which I shared here back in 2010.

It’s my grandma’s recipe, and these particular sweet rolls are pretty nostalgic to me because every summer when we visited my grandparents in their small midwestern town, my grandma always had multiple baking sheets filled with these rolls.

Every morning, she’d heat some up in her oven (she was quite against microwaves, and besides, an oven does make a lot of sense for heating larger quantities) and serve them for breakfast.

So, the smell of these (along with the smell of coffee) just screams grandma to me.

grandma's handwritten sweet roll recipe

There’s all kinds of happy tied up in these.

And I hope that even though these lack nostalgia for you, they’ll still prove a delightful addition to your baking repertoire.

I posted some step-by-step photos of the dough-making process in the bear bread recipe, so I’ll just refer you there if you need help with the dough.

To make cinnamon rolls:

Once your batch of dough has risen for an hour, turn it out onto a counter and divide it in half.  Roll one half into a rectangle, and spread with softened butter, like so.

sweet roll dough spread with butter

Then sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar.  My grandma was quite non-specific about quantities, and honestly, there’s a fair bit of leeway here.  When you make cinnamon bread, too much butter and cinnamon can make your bread fall, but this is pretty much never a problem with rolls.

As long as it’s fairly thoroughly covered, you should be good.

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Now take a pizza cutter and divide the dough into strips.  Again, you don’t need to be super precise.

sweet roll dough cut into strips

It looks like I cut these the long way, but it’s just a wonky perspective.  Cut them the short way!

Twist each dough strip and then coil it into a neat bun.

how to twist sweet roll dough

The dough strips stretch as you do this, which makes it tempting to fold them in half like this:

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But if you do that, less sugary surface area will be exposed during the baking process, and the resulting rolls won’t be quite as good.

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Let the rolls rise for about 30 minutes, and then bake them in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes.  This baking time can vary depending on the thickness of your baking sheets, so keep an eye on them until you’re familiar with what works.  If you have thin sheets, 10 minutes will be good, but thick sheets like the Vollrath ones I own will require more time.

Remove the baked rolls to a wire rack to cool.

These are good on their own, but are even better with frosting.

frosting a cinnamon roll

My grandma was again very non-specific with her frosting directions. She just says to mix powdered sugar, a little butter, some half and half, and some vanilla.

And honestly, I do usually wing it.  ;)

But it’s probably something like a tablespoon of butter, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, two tablespoons of half and half or milk, and then enough powdered sugar to make the consistency right for spreading.

To make apricot sweet rolls:

The process for these is quite similar, but you’ll need to make the apricot filling first.

It’s pretty simple.  Just take an 8 oz. package of dried apricots (apricots are available at Aldi, and they are SO much more affordable there), put ‘em in a pan and cover them with water.

Bring them to a boil and cook them for about 20 minutes, or until they’re really soft and most of the water is absorbed.

IMG_2120

At first you will think this is waaay too much water, but fear not!  The apricots will absorb it all.

Do keep an eye on them because they can burn if the water level gets too low.  Add more water if necessary.

Put the cooked apricots into a food processor, and process until smooth.  My grandma said to add a cup of sugar, but I usually don’t think a whole cup is necessary.

Now, roll out half of the sweet roll dough, butter it, and sugar it (no cinnamon this time, unless you really want it!)

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Cut the dough into strips.

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Twist the strips up and coil them into a bun shape.  Again, resist the urge to fold them in half.  You want the sugary sides exposed!

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Place them on a greased baking sheet and let them rise about 30 minutes.

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Bake them in a preheated 350° F oven for about 8 minutes, or JUST until they’re slightly brown, like this:

underbaked sweet rolls

Take them out of the oven, put a little dollop of apricot filling in the center of each, and place them back in the oven to bake for a few more minutes, until they’re golden brown.

apricot sweet rolls

Remove the baked rolls to a wire rack to cool.

(info on my baking sheets and cooling racks can be found right here, on my work-in-progress kitchen equipment page.)

Cinnamon (or Apricot) Sweet Rolls

(I’ll add a printable later today, promise!)

2 pkg. (4.5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (8 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
about 6.5 cups flour

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm water. Heat milk, sugar, butter, and salt to 110 degrees F. Add to dissolved yeast along with eggs and 3 cups of flour. Beat for 3 minutes on medium speed (or stir thoroughly by hand). Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 3-5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a bowl, cover with a wet tea towel, and let rise 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide in half.

To make cinnamon rolls:

Roll each dough half out into a rectangle.  Spread with softened butter and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.  Cut dough into strips the short way.  Twist each strip, coil into a bun shape, and place on greased baking sheet.

Let rise until double (about 30 minutes) and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Frost with a mixture of about 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 2 tablespoons half and half or milk, and enough powdered sugar to provide proper consistency.

To make apricot rolls:

Place 8 oz. dried apricots into a saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and gently simmer for 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed and apricots are soft.  Process apricots in food processor until smooth.  Add up to 1 cup sugar and process until combined.

Roll each dough half into a rectangle.  Spread with softened butter and sprinkle generously with sugar.  Cut dough into strips the short way.  Twist each strip, coil into a bun shape, and place on greased baking sheet.

Let rise until double (about 30 minutes) and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and spoon a dollop of apricot filling in the middle of each roll.  Return to oven and bake a few more minutes, until nicely browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool.