5 great recipes to celebrate National Banana Bread Day

Happy National Banana Bread Day, as if you needed a questionably designated reason to celebrate the stuff. The method is a perfect way to use ripened bananas, the fruit lending moist texture and rich flavor to your baked goods. Banana bread, whether a classic take or a riff on the old school recipe, can be magical, whether served for breakfast or dessert.

<a href="" target="_blank">Recipe: Banana-nut bread</a>
Recipe: Banana-nut bread (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In this classic recipe, fold mashed ripened bananas in a batter that's not overly sweet, flavored with vanilla and tangy buttermilk. Add chopped walnuts or pecans before baking. One tip: Toast the nuts before adding to the batter to deepen the flavor of the nuts in the finished bread.

<a href="" target="_blank">Recipe: Banana bread pudding</a>
Recipe: Banana bread pudding (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

In this recipe from chef Thomas Keller, ripened bananas are layered with custard and buttery brioche slices and baked for a whole new take on bread pudding. Before serving, chill the bread pudding, and cut slices to order, frying them in clarified butter to warm and encase each slice in a delicate crust.

<a href="" target="_blank">Recipe: Banana poppy seed loaf</a>
Recipe: Banana poppy seed loaf (Los Angeles Times)

This recipe combines bananas, poppy seeds and dates in a rich bread, garnished with caramelized sliced bananas and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Serve the slices on their own — or with a little cream cheese, as the bakery recommends — or give them as gifts.

<a href="" target="_blank">Recipe: Caramel banana bread pudding</a>
Recipe: Caramel banana bread pudding (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

This take on bread pudding calls for croissants, which lend a soft, buttery texture to the classic comfort food. Rich caramel and crushed, ripened bananas are folded in before the pudding hits the oven. The resulting dish is a wonderfully rich play on flavors, at once looking like a classic bread pudding, but tasting almost like bananas Foster. We liked it even better after a quick trip under the broiler to crisp the top layer.

Banana bread doesn't get much easier than this recipe from cookbook legend Judy Zeidler. Just mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another, then combine the two and divide among greased tinfoil bread pans. One tip from Zeidler: Dust the pans with finely ground walnuts instead of flour to give the bread a crisper crust. Serve the slices slathered with butter, or, as Zeidler recommends, topped with warm chocolate sauce or whipped cream for a sweet finish to this holiday.

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