Banana bread doesn’t have to be boring. We took everyone’s favorite, go-to quick bread and gave it a makeover, using one of banana bread’s most complementary spices, two leaveners instead of one, a sweet and crunchy topping, more precise measuring, and a near-universal improver for baked goods: brown butter.

Here’s how to make your banana stand out from the bunch:

Add cardamom

Sweet, herbal, citrusy: Cardamom is one of those spices that’s complex, hard to describe and unlike anything else. That’s what makes it such a perfect ingredient to match with banana bread. It punches up the flavor profile without overwhelming.

Brown your butter

There are few baked goods that brown butter wouldn’t improve, and banana bread is no exception. Browning butter yields nutty, caramelized notes in an otherwise one-note treat. Go one step further and bloom your cardamom in the hot butter to draw out the spice’s aroma—a one-two punch.

See our recipes for Rye Chocolate Chip Cookies and French Apple Cake for more proof of brown butter’s transformative effects.

Use two leaveners

Baking powder alone gives banana bread lift, but results in a pale loaf. Baking soda yields a well-browned top but a dense crumb. Use one teaspoon of each, and you’ve got the best of both worlds.

Measure by volume, not by bananas

A lot of recipes will call for a certain number of ripe bananas, but we find that ends up in imprecise moisture levels and ultimately throws off the balance of ingredients. Measure bananas in a 1-cup dry measuring cup.

Sprinkle sugar on top

For a crisp, browned crust that compliments the moist crumb, sprinkle granulated sugar on top just before baking.

More Baking Tips:
3 Ways to Better Your Baking
A Sweet Way to Coat Cake Pans
Claire Ptak’s Number One Rule for Baking

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