I’ve been wanting to make this Banana Bread recipe for a few weeks, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to top it with. I knew I wanted something creamy but what flavor….? That was the question. Time was ticking as my bananas were at their ripest and I didn’t want to start over with a new batch of bananas to ripen. As you can tell, I was very determined to get the perfect topping for it. And then it happened…that aha! moment. I was looking through a couple of cookbooks searching for a dinner recipe, when I came across Bryant Terry’s Afro-Vegan Cookbook. Let me just say, this book is amazing. It a cookbook bursting with African and Caribbean flavors that are vibrant, colorful…a celebration if you will of plant-based foods with a taste of tradition. I came across Bryant’s Sweet Orange Blossom Cream and I got my a ha! moment. It was serendipity.
Let me just say that I love banana bread. It is a quick and simple classic quick bread, however I wanted to zhuzh it up a bit. Give it life. And life I did give it. The orange blossom cream was heavenly on top of it. I made a few changes. Instead of silken tofu, I used soaked cashews, thereby making a cashew cream. I opted out of using bourbon (the original recipe) as I wanted it to be more for breakfast or a snack. However, if you feel the need to add the bourbon (Bryant uses 1 Tablespoon), go for it. I also used maple syrup instead of agave, but feel free to use your favorite sweetener. The absolute best part about this recipe is the Orange Blossom Water or Orange Flower Water. It is a clear and perfumed essence made by the distillation of fresh bitter orange blossoms. Get a bottle and take a whiff. You’ll want to put it in your food, put it in your favorite drinks, spray your sheets, etc. You can find Orange Flower Water at Middle Eastern markets or buy it here. It is used in a lot of desserts such as baklava and Mexican Wedding cakes.
Caribbean Style Banana Bread w/ Sweet Orange Blossom Cashew Cream//makes 1 loaf
Adapted from B. Smith's Entertaining and Cooking for Friends
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
½ cup vegan butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cup mashed ripe banana
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Sweet Orange Blossom Cream//1 cup
Adapted from Afro-Vegan
1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours, drained, and rinsed
¼ cup agave or maple syrup
¼ cup non-dairy milk or water (I used almond milk)
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed navel orange juice
Finely grated zest of 1 navel orange
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
To prepare the frosting, place the cashews, syrup, non-dairy milk or water, salt, and extract in a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend or process until the mixture is mostly smooth; in a high-speed blender, this will be about 2 minutes once you get to high speed, and in a food processor it should take about 4 minutes, with a few breaks to scrape the bowl down. Then, with the machine running, drizzle in the coconut oil. Continue blending till the frosting is smooth and emulsified. Transfer it to an airtight container to chill for at least 2 hours. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
For the banana bread, preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. In another large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then fold in the flour mixture, alternating with mashed banana, yogurt, and vanilla. Stir in the nuts. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool.