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Milk Street Recipe

Liberian Banana-Rice Bread

1½ hours 25 minutes active, plus cooling

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Liberian Banana-Rice Bread

In Monrovia, Liberia, home cooks Sharon Mulbah and Yassah Cooper each taught us to make a local favorite, a rice-based banana bread with a moist, dense crumb that tastes of the ripe fruit and fresh ginger. Many recipes for this bread take a shortcut by using either rice flour or rice cereal, but we preferred the more rustic versions we learned in Liberia, which start with whole rice that is soaked, then finely ground in a mortar and pestle. We discovered a food processor makes quick work of this process. So that the bread bakes up properly, it’s important that the rice is ground to a very fine, almost powdery texture. A generous amount of sliced ginger is blended into the pulverized rice before oil and mashed banana are incorporated. All the mixing is done in the processor, which must have at least an 11-cup capacity to accommodate the volume of ingredients. We finish this wheat-free, egg-free cake-like loaf with a dusting of cinnamon and powdered sugar for an added layer of sweetness and spice. In an airtight container, leftovers will keep at room temperature for up to two days—and, in fact, we think the flavor and texture improve if left to stand overnight. Note that a nonstick pan requires a slightly lower oven temperature and shorter baking time than a conventional cake pan because of its darker color.

Makes one 9-inch



Don’t use underripe bananas. The fruit provides much of the sweetness and flavor in this bread, so be sure the bananas are well-ripened. They should be fragrant, speckled with lots of brown spots and have some give when gently pressed. And don’t mash the bananas to a completely smooth puree. Leave some chunks to add a little texture to the baked bread. Finally, don’t slice the bread until it has fully cooled or the crumb may feel a little oily.

1½ hours

25 minutes active, plus cooling


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