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Vegan Rye Flour Banana Bread with Cream Cheese

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ORIGINS: Banana bread is the quintessential American quick bread. Its rise in popularity began during the Great Depression when overripe bananas were repurposed into this now classic treat.

Vegan Rye Flour Banana Bread

This plant-based rye flour banana bread is hearty and delicious, and comes together in one bowl. It makes a perfect treat for breakfast or any time of day!
Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Total: 1 hr 15 mins
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 slices
Calories: 214kcal
Cost: $0.21 per slice

Ingredients

  • cups mashed ripe bananas 350 g
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter or margarine 110 g
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 100 g; see Note 1
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 10 g
  • 1 tsp ground spices of choice see Note 2 for suggestions
  • tsp baking powder 9 g
  • ½ tsp baking soda 2 g
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt or 3/4 tsp kosher salt 3 g
  • 3 cups rye flour 330 g; can sub with whole wheat flour

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the bananas, vegan butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract on high speed until well blended.
  • Add the spices, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour. Stir on the lowest speed until just blended (shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds).
  • Scoop the batter into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. You can press half a banana (sliced lengthwise) into the top of the loaf for decoration.
  • Bake at 350 °F for 50–55 minutes. The surface should be golden brown.
  • Let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. (Best to cool completely, but I understand if that's too hard!)
  • Optional: serve with a thick spread of vegan cream cheese frosting (see Note 3 for recipe).

Recipe Notes

  1. As written, this recipe has a good amount of sweetness but is far less sweet than storebought banana breads. My bf prefers a sweeter banana bread, like what we’d buy from a bakery or restaurant. If you’d like that too, double the amount of sugar.
  2. There are many types of spice blends you can use in a banana bread. I will link to some homemade recipes that I like:
  3. I use this basic vegan cream cheese frosting recipe from Minimalist Baker. You can see the results of my frosting taste test below.

Veganizing Banana Bread

This recipe was originally non-vegan (it contained eggs) when I first published it. Since going vegan, I’ve made banana bread a few more times but kept forgetting to update this page. Turns out, it’s as easy as removing the eggs. I was afraid that would leave the loaf too dense, but the difference is actually quite small. The biggest culprit behind a dense banana bread is over-working the batter, so don’t mix it any more than you have to.

rye flour vegan banana bread

My Zerocery produce box from a couple of weeks ago came with four bananas, and I knew immediately that I wanted to turn them into some kind of baked goods. Whenever I get bananas, my first thought is to cook them in a recipe. I guess it’s because bananas are so versatile and used in so many ways, that it almost seems boring to peel and eat ’em.

Another reason: these bananas were yellow and ripe when they arrived, and I really hate eating ripe bananas! I like bananas best when they still have a tinge of green. How many of you know what I’m talking about? A ripe banana just tastes too banana-y for me. But when you’re baking banana bread, you want as much as that strong banana flavour as possible.

I had some rye flour left in the pantry that needed using up, so I figured why not? Let’s see if using rye would make a noticeable difference in the taste and texture of vegan banana bread.

Rye Flour vs Regular Flour

If you served me a rye flour banana bread along with one made from regular flour, I doubt I could tell the difference. The strong spices in this recipe overpowered the nutty hint of rye. That said, this bread was definitely my most successful banana bread yet! Not to mention, rye is quite healthy for you. If you don’t have rye, no worries, you can substitute whole wheat flour or even all-purpose flour instead.

If you have some leftover banana like me, you can slice them thin lengthwise and press them firmly into the top of the batter. You know. To make it pretty.

cream cheese frosting on rye banana bread slices

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

While the bread was baking, I remembered a banana bread I used to buy from my high school cafeteria. It was sold in little saran-wrapped bundles with cream cheese frosting sandwiched tightly between two slices. (In fact, it’s still my favourite banana bread ever! Not sure if that’s because it was one of the first banana breads I remember tasting, and I’m suffering some kind of first-time syndrome, or because it was that delicious… actually, I’m leaning more towards the theory that it just has a ton of sugar.) Anyway, I decided to make my own veganized cream cheese icing to emulate that good old taste of nostalgia.

easy cream cheese frosting

Vegan cream cheese frosting is one of the easiest frostings you can make imo. You don’t have to worry about it splitting or the sugar not dissolving properly, it doesn’t get hard and gritty in the fridge, and it takes less than five minutes to whip up from start to finish.

Since I’ve never really paid attention to the particulars of cream cheese frosting, I decided to take this chance to do a mini taste test.

Frosting Taste Test

I started by mixing up a basic batch of frosting with just three ingredients: vegan cream cheese, vegan butter, and icing sugar, and spread it on one slice of the banana bread. Then I added a splash of vanilla extract, and spread it on a second slice. For the third slice, I mixed in half a tsp of cardamom powder with the icing.

  • Frosting #1: Pretty good. Together with the banana bread, it almost transported me back to my high school days.
  • Frosting #2: I immediately noticed the difference made by the vanilla extract. Even though frosting #1 tasted great before I tasted the second frosting, it now tasted flat and just plain sugary, with not much depth beyond that. Frosting #2 definitely enhanced the taste.
  • Frosting #3: Couldn’t taste a difference between #2 and #3. I tried hard to see if I could make out the extra kick of cardamom, but I couldn’t. The banana bread was probably already so heavily spiced that the extra cardamom just blended into the background.
cream cheese frosting taste test!

Then I fed all three slices to Kevin for a truly blind taste test, and the results were anticlimactic. All three slices tasted the same to him. He thought Frosting #3 tasted a little less sour (so maybe the cardamom and vanilla flavours toned down the tanginess of the cream cheese). But overall, he couldn’t tell them apart.

Kevin did like all three, though, which is enough for me. When I first mentioned pairing cream cheese and banana bread together, he was super grossed out. But after tasting it for himself, he admits that it’s a yummy combination!

Bone Apple Banana Tea!

two slices of vegan rye flour banana bread

It’s best to cool bread completely before slicing, but quick breads don’t suffer as much if you cut into them sooner. As for us, we waited a little over an hour; the bread was still warm, but it was getting late at night and I didn’t want to have to wait until morning to try the bread. Nothing better than tasting a loaf still warm from the oven! Then I wrapped it up in plastic wrap and left it on the counter.

The next morning, the quality didn’t seem to be affected by the fact that I sliced the bread warm. It was still moist (but not soggy), soft (but not gummy), and had a great flavour! The cream cheese gets better the next day. It firmed up in the fridge and seemed to get smoother, and was easy to spread.

Storage FAQ

How long does homemade banana bread last?

This vegan banana bread lasts for 5 days at room temperature. Keep it wrapped in plastic or covered in a container. In the freezer, it will last for several months.

Can this vegan banana bread be frozen?

Yes! I recommend cooling it down completely, slicing it, then storing with parchment paper sandwiched between each slice. This prevents sticking and allows you to take out only as many slices as you need for the day.

What’s the best way to reheat banana bread?

For bread at room temperature: toss straight into a toaster. (Although, this loaf tastes pretty good at room temperature too.) For frozen bread: microwave for 10 seconds at room temperature to soften up, then finish in the toaster.

More Vegan Quick Bread Recipes

Nutrition, Cost, and Emissions Information

One thick slice of rye flour banana bread (without frosting) is 214 cal, costs $0.21, and releases 153 gCO2e of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Calculation for full recipe as written (12 servings):

Feel free to contact me for sources on the nutritional and carbon emissions information presented here. Note that I am not a nutritionist and guidelines on this page are provided for informational purposes only.


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