This banana bread uses sourdough starter discard, the leftover stuff that you have when you feed your starter, for an easy-to-make yet sophisticated treat.
The nation seems OBSESSED with both banana bread and sourdough bread at the moment. They’re everyone’s comfort food. And I certainly understand. I have my sourdough starter bubbling away on my counter, slightly neglected (I’m the worst sourdough parent). And I also have neglected bananas sitting next to it as well (are you sensing a pattern?). So it only made sense that I make a Sourdough Banana Bread! And since I’m obsessed with both crumb topping (like on my pumpkin latte bread) as well as chocolate chunks in my quick bread (like in my zucchini bread) I knew I had to add those into the mix as well!
What’s the difference between sourdough banana bread and regular banana bread?
Sourdough banana bread is a quick batter bread, similar to regular banana bread. It gets its main leavening and rise from baking soda, not from the sourdough starter. So there’s no need to knead or let the bread rise!
The starter itself is just there to add flavor and acidity (to react with the baking soda). In fact, this recipe uses the discard of the starter, so you can make the recipe in the morning or whenever you want. There’s no need to feed the starter and let it become active! The starter itself replaces the need to use yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk or any liquid dairy product.
The resulting banana bread is probably one of the best banana bread I’ve made in awhile. Its banana-y in flavor but not overpoweringly so. It’s balanced with a complexity to the dough, which has a wonderful texture, not too bready, not too dense, nor too cakey. And the pockets of dark chocolate chunks along with the crunchy crumb topping are both excellent foils to the bread.
How do you make sourdough banana bread
Making sourdough banana bread isn’t much different than making regular banana bread with a crumb topping. First you combine the ingredients for the crumb topping in a bowl and chill it in the refrigerator while you make the batter.
Make the batter by mixing butter, brown sugar, olive oil, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and some spice (I use cardamom) together until the butter is light and airy looking. Then add the eggs, one at a time, and then the sourdough starter discard.
Then you mix in the bananas and the flour. Stir in the chocolate chunks, and sprinkle with the crumb topping and bake in the oven!
Where do I get a sourdough starter?
You can either make your own sourdough starter from scratch, ask a friend or neighbor for some (try Nextdoor or asking on social media like Facebook) or purchase some online at a place like King Arthur Flour.
Once you get a starter, you need to feed it on a semi-regular basis, which often means you need to discard some of it, otherwise you just have too much of it. This recipe takes advantage of that discard!
How do I store sourdough banana bread?
This bread stores beautifully at room temperature for two to three days. It stays moist and tender. Keep the bread under a cake dome, in an airtight container or resealable Ziploc bag or just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
You can also freeze the bread as well if you don’t finish the bread in that time frame. Just slice the bread and then freeze it on a baking sheet until each slice is frozen solid. Then move the bread to a resealable Ziploc bag to store. Frozen sourdough banana bread will keep for up to 2 months. Just thaw on the counter or in a 350°F toaster oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
How ripe do the bananas need to be?
Unlike other folks I have a hard time using bananas that have gone totally black. For me, those bananas already taste like they have gone bad. But if you don’t mind super ripe bananas, feel free to use those!
Personally, I prefer to make banana bread when the bananas have freckled over most of the skin and they are just on the edge of turning the entire banana black. Basically when the bananas are a day or two beyond how I am willing to eat them is the perfect time to make banana bread! If I don’t get to making banana bread, I peel the bananas, then just store them in the freezer for smoothies or for future banana bread.
Can you use frozen bananas in the recipe?
Yes! If you are like me and have a back stash of frozen bananas, just remove them and let them thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes before mashing them with a fork.
You want roughly 1 cup of mashed bananas, or about 300 grams to use in this recipe.
Can I leave out the chocolate? Can I use nuts in this banana bread?
Yes! You can totally leave out the chocolate chunks in this recipe or replace the chocolate with an equal amount of chopped or toasted nuts or cacao nibs. Nuts that would be great in this recipe include:
- Macadamia nuts
- Cacao nibs, perfect if you want a textural crunch but are allergic to nuts
Can I leave off the crumb topping or change it up?
Yes! To simplify the recipe, you can skip the crumb topping. It’s totally optional.
I do use cacao nibs, for crunch and added chocolate flavor, in my crumb topping. But if you don’t have cacao nibs or don’t like them, you can either sub in chopped nuts (see my list above for recommendations). Or just omit them completely.
You can also make a simple sugar topping for the bread if you just want a crunchy sweet topping. Just sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of white sugar over the top of the bread before baking. Some of the sugar will melt and solidify over the bread, forming a white crunchy topping that is delightful!
How do I make this banana bread vegan?
I haven’t tested a vegan version of this recipe, but I suspect that this would TOTALLY be easy to convert to a vegan recipe. The only dairy in the recipe is the butter. So a simple substitution of coconut oil or vegan buttery stick for the butter would work.
The eggs are also an easy swap. Just omit the eggs and increase the bananas to 5 mashed bananas. Eggs are both a binder and add moisture to baked goods. Bananas are high in pectin so they are a great substitute for the eggs. Eggs also contribute to the lift of baked goods but this recipe had baking soda and the sourdough starter discard so there’s plenty of lift built in already.
The vegan version of this banana bread might be a little more dense because they don’t have the lift from the egg, but it’ll still be super satisfying. And again, I haven’t tested this adaptation, so if you do make a vegan version, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear the results!
If you like this sourdough banana bread, check out some other banana recipes:
- Kahula Chocolate Banana Bread
- Banana, Green Tea and Milk Chocolate Muffins
- Banana Coconut Cream Pie
- Arrested Development’s Frozen Banana Copycat Recipe
Sourdough Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunk and Cacao Nib Crumb Topping
- 9 x 5 inch bread loaf pan
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 70 g
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar 75 g
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or substitute additional 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons cacao nibs or chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter 85 g
Banana Bread Batter
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature 115 g or 1 stick
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar 165 g
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sourdough starter discard 175 g (
see section above )
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas 300 g or about 3 medium bananas
- 1 cup all-purpose flour 140 g
- 1 cup whole wheat flour 150 g (you can substitute all-purpose if you want)
- 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate chunks 125 g
- Preheat an oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 4 or 9 x 5 loaf pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper, leaving about 1 to 2 inches of paper overhanging the edges of the pan.
- Make the crumb topping by placing the flour, both sugars, cardamom, cinnamon, cacao nibs in a medium sized bowl. Cut the butter into 1/4-inch chunks and sprinkle over the ingredients. Using your fingers and smash the butter together with the ingredients, mixing it all together. Work the butter into the dry ingredients until it starts to clump together into lumps. Place in the fridge while you make the batter.
- Place the butter, brown sugar, olive oil, vanilla, baking soda, salt and cardamom in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat together on medium speed until the batter looks light and fluffy in color and clings to the side of the bowl. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, waiting until the first egg is incorporated and scraping down the sides and bottom before adding the second one. Don’t worry if the batters starts to look “broken”. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the mashed bananas the batter and mix in. The batter will start to look super weird and very broken, but again don't worry! Again scrape down the sides and bottom and add the sourdough starter discard. Mix and scrape down one more time.
- Add both flours to batter and mix on slow speed until the flour is absorbed. At this point the batter should come together and look normal.
- Fold in the chocolate chunks by hand, with a spatula. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread the top so it’s smooth.
- Sprinkle the crumb topping all over the top of the batter, breaking up any large chunks into smaller pebble size pieces. Place the pan on a heavy rimmed baking sheet. This will help you move the pan in and out of the oven, as well as insulate the bottom of the pan to keep the bottom from burning.
- Bake the banana bread for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a tooth pick or skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. If you have an instant read thermometer, the center of the banana bread should be around 195 to 200°F.
- Let the bread cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove it by grabbing the sides of the parchment paper and lifting the bread straight up from the pan. Let the bread cool completely on a wire rack before peeling off the paper and slicing into it.