Do you have bananas hanging out on your counter? Or, do you, like me, buy bananas specifically to make banana bread?

I hardly ever eat bananas on their own, but extra ripe and brown bananas are the perfect excuse for making banana bread: they’re jammy, sweet, and extra moist – the perfect base for a flavorful quick bread.

Banana bread is my weakness.

If I could, I would eat a slice of it every morning with my morning coffee. Would that be great if a slice of morning banana bread was as standard as a morning coffee? Life would be glorious. I love ALL banana breads but this recipe in particular is my all time favorite. I’ve made a lot of banana breads and this is the one!

totoro banana bread |

I’m a purist when it comes to banana bread: no nuts, no chocolate, no dried banana chips. I like my banana bread to taste like bananas. I love how something magical happens when bananas are baked; the sugars caramelize and intensify, making the bananas taste even more banana-y.

This loaf is everything I dream about.

The flavor is intensely banana-y and the inside is tender and moist. When you slice into it, there’s an even tight crumb, with a balanced springiness and stickiness. It’s sweet but not too sweet, with plenty of banana-y tones and subtle caramel notes.

flour bakery banana bread, improved |

It’s a take on Joanne Chang’s famous Flour Bakery banana bread.

It’s the best moist banana bread recipe out there, dense with banana flavor, but somehow light on texture. Essentially, it’s her recipe with a bit of baking powder to give it some extra loft so the top rounds into that quintessential domed top hump. I sliced it up and decorated each slice as Totoro for a cute little halloween treat.

totoro banana bread |

But wait, is banana bread actually cake?

Now that I think about it, why is banana bread considered a morning treat? Is it because it’s called “bread”? Is it just cake disguised as a loaf and sliced? The answer is yes and no.

Technically banana bread is quick bread: a baked good leavened with baking powder or baking soda as opposed to yeast. The umbrella term “quick breads”actually include cakes, as well as brownies, and of course things like banana bread or pumpkin bread.

totoro banana bread |

When most people tend to think of bread, they think of yeasted breads like sourdough, baguettes, or sandwich loaves. So, no, banana bread isn’t “bread,” but it’s called bread. Confusing, no? You can thank the English language for that one. But I guess the real question is, is it cake? Well, yes it is. It’s cake in a loaf form and that’s okay. Delicious in any shape!

Banana bread with oil vs butter

I always prefer to make my loaf cakes with oil and you should too! Oil makes loaf cakes and quick breads more soft and moist. Oil will give you that classic banana bread flavor that you get when you buy a slice from a coffee shop.

totoro banana bread |

How to make the best banana bread

  1. Beat the eggs and sugar. I like to use a stand mixer or hand mixer for this, but you can also just use a whisk. You want the eggs and sugar to fluff up bit and be pale in color.
  2. Whisk in the oil. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking.
  3. Mix. Time to mix in the smashed banana, sour cream, and vanilla.
  4. Fold. Gently fold in the dry ingredients until there are no flour streaks.
  5. Bake. Pour everything into a oiled and floured (or nonstick) loaf pan and bake until golden and cooked through. Let cool, slice, and enjoy!

How to decorate into totoros

After your loaf is sliced and cooled, you can decorate the slices like Totoro: pop on some candy eyes, give him an icing sugar belly, and use melted chocolate to pipe on his nose and whiskers. He’ll be so cute you almost won’t want to eat him. But he tastes really good, so just do it!

totoro banana bread |

How to ripen bananas for banana bread

Usually before I want to make banana bread I’ll buy bananas a couple of days before so I can ripen them myself. There are a couple of different tricks to ripen bananas quickly:

  • Separate them. Separating bananas helps them ripen faster because they’ll release more ethylene (the gas that ripens fruit).
  • Stick them in a paper bag. Pop the bananas in a paper bag and close off the top.
  • Stick them in a warm spot. Leave the paper bag of bananas in a warm spot and if you have an apple add it in, it’ll release more ethylene and encourage the bananas to ripen.
  • Bake them in a low oven. Technically this isn’t ripening, but it does sweeten bananas. Place unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and let them bake in a low oven (300°F) for 15-30 minutes. The skins will darken and the bananas will get very soft.

The best loaf pan?

I love this oxo good grips 1lb non-stick loaf pan. It releases perfectly every time!

Happy halloween month!
xoxo steph

halloween treats: totoro banana bread |

Totoro Banana Bread

So cute you almost won’t want to eat him. But he tastes really good, so just do it!
Serves 8
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour 210 grams
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 18 tbsp sugar 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons, 230grams
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil or other flavorless oil, 100 grams
  • 3.5 bananas very ripe, about 1.5 cups peeled and mashed, 340grams
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • With the rack in the center of the oven, preheat to 325°F. Lightly oil and flour a standard 9x5 loaf pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and set aside.
    banana bread mix |
  • With a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Switch to low speed and slowly drizzle in the oil, taking your time.
    banana bread batter |
  • Add the bananas, sour cream, and vanilla, and continue to mix on low speed just until combined.
    banana bread batter with bananas |
  • Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible.
    banana bread batter ready to bake |
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. The banana bread should be golden brown on top and will spring back when you press it.
    banana bread batter in tin |
  • Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, remove from the pan and let cool completely on the wire rack. Enjoy!
    flour bakery banana bread, improved |

To decorate as Totoro

  • You need: candy eyes, melted dark chocolate, icing sugar, and a clean sheet of paper to make a stencil.
    When the banana bread is completely cool, slice. Make a stencil for Totoro’s belly by taking a sheet of paper and cutting out a curved belly that fits the slice of banana bread. Place the stencil over the banana bread slice and give Totoro a generous dusting of icing sugar to create his belly.
    how to decorate banana bread as totoro |
  • Attach the candy eyes with melted chocolate and pipe out a nose, whiskers, and chest fur. Enjoy!
    totoro banana bread |

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Totoro Banana Bread
Amount Per Serving
Calories 389 Calories from Fat 143
% Daily Value*
Fat 15.9g24%
Saturated Fat 1.9g12%
Cholesterol 48mg16%
Sodium 207mg9%
Potassium 330mg9%
Carbohydrates 59.5g20%
Fiber 2.1g9%
Sugar 33.6g37%
Protein 4.9g10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

More totoro week


  1. Tom says:

    5 stars
    Just as I was getting tired of the regular banana bread I’ve been eating. This recipe couldn’t have been published at a better time.

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