Saturday, May 5, 2012

Chai Banana Bread

I almost gave up.  I've been getting Cooking Light magazine since the beginning of the year and I've had completely mediocre, non-blog-worthy, results with the three recipes I've tried to date.  Until now.  Recipe number four from the May issue turned it all around.  I guess I won't cancel my subscription just yet. 

Chai banana bread was a big success, making the previous lack luster results all worth it.  At least that's what I'm telling myself.  I measure the success of a recipe by asking is it something I would make again?  It may need some tweaks or changes, but the base recipe is solid enough to warrant a repeat.  This recipe?  Already planning it.  No further tweaking necessary (you'll see below I already did the slightest bit of tweaking).

Wondering what "chai" is?  Chai, which is a reference to masala chai, means mixed spiced tea and originates in southeast Asia (around India).  The chai spice mixture, which can vary, typically consists of things like cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorn, star anise and allspice.  Chai tea has become popular all over the world, and you can sample the Americanized version at your local Starbucks or coffee house.  Just ask for a "Chai Tea Latte".  You'll get a slightly sweetened, steamed milk beverage infused with a concentration of black tea and spices.  It's actually my favorite hot coffee house beverage (no coffee for this girl).  It reminds me of spice cookies and gingerbread.  Which is probably why it works so well with banana bread.

In this recipe there is no tea involved, just the spices.  Cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and allspice are mixed together.  A portion goes into the banana bread batter and the remainder gets mixed with powdered sugar and a touch of vanilla to create a spiced glaze to finish the bread.  The spices are present, but not overwhelming. 

This lightened up version of banana bread doesn't lack in flavor or richness.  It can easily pass for it's full fat banana bread cousin. 

I made one substitution in the recipe.  I didn't have plain yogurt on hand so I substituted fat free buttermilk.  I didn't actually have store bought buttermilk on hand either, so I made my own.  I added 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to 1/3 cup of fat free milk.  It worked perfectly!

Tip of the day - Make Your Own Buttermilk:

I always get so frustrated when I buy buttermilk at the store because I can never ever seem to use the whole container despite my best efforts.  Making your own is easy. 

To make one cup of buttermilk - Add one tablespoon of white vinegar to a glass measuring cup and then fill up to the one cup line with milk.  Let it stand for 5 minutes and stir before using. 

That's it.  No more wasted buttermilk!  You can use any type of milk you have on hand--fat free, low fat or whole milk.


Hubby and several of my co-workers sampled the bread and it was well received by all.  Hubs even went back for thirds!  This spiced twist on a classic may just become my new "go to" banana bread recipe. 


Chai Banana Bread
from Cooking Light

Notes: the instructions below are how they are laid out in the magazine.  I did make a modification on preparing this by mixing my spice mixture and then adding the 1 1/2 teaspoons of it into the dry flour mixture (instead of mixing it into the batter at the end).  I just had a hard time stepping away from the traditional method of mixing wet and ingredients separately and then combining them together at the end.  I also mixed my vanilla in with the rest of the wet ingredients.  It would probably work out just fine either with either method.

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1/3 cup plain non fat yogurt (I used fat free buttermilk)
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
10 ounces all purpose flour (2 1/4 cups)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons low fat milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

You can use a stand mixer, hand mixer or just mix by hand the old fashioned way.  I used a stand mixer.  Combine bananas, yogurt, cooled melted butter and eggs until just blended.  Add sugars and mix until blended.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and beat until just blended.

In a small bowl combine the cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and allspice.  Stir 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract into the batter until just combined.  Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake for 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely.  To store, wrap the bread in foil and place in a zip top bag with the air removed. 

Make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, remaining spice mixture and milk until fully combined and spoon over the bread.


  1. My husband would go nuts over this - he's a chai freak. Looks delicious!

  2. I've had some mixed results with Cooking Light recipes too, but I still enjoy the magazine. I always go online and read the reviews for a recipe before I decide to make it, and often end up changing my mind :)

    This banana bread sounds fantastic, thanks for giving it a test run!

    1. Glad to hear I'm not the only one! Good idea to check out the online reviews. Will be doing that going forward. Thanks Tracey!

  3. yesterday I glanced at this post and I felt like my world had just fallen apart. Now I've recovered enough I can leave a comment, but not a very happy one. (If you didn't know before, I can be quite dramatic. And I might be a little fond of exaggeration as well--be warned.) Um, did you know that I'd been killing myself trying to create a delicious chai banana bread? Seriously killing myself to strike the perfect balance of chai spices along with the banana flavor. And now. Now I know I'm not brilliant, that I'm not the first to think of this, that it's already been done and if I'd have googled it, I never would have had to kill myself over the recipe in the first place. I could have just made this one. It's like I was training for the Olympics and before I even got there, I found out they'd already taken place.

    So thanks for ruining my life, Gloria, I'm going to go jump off a cliff now! Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!

    LOL, I kid. Instead of jumping off a cliff, I'm going to make this recipe and try not to sulk if it turns out better than my own version. I suppose I should thank you for bringing this recipe to my attention, but I'll have to give you a rain check on that. lol

    1. OMG, I'm laughing hysterically over here. You SOOOO crack me up. I'm here for you and your banana bread chai needs! And I am super glad you aren't jumping off a cliff. :) You'll have to let me know how this stacks up against your creation. I would love to see your version. I'm certain there is room in my world for two chai banana bread recipes. ;)

    2. I'm so glad you took my comment in the joking manner I meant it. I came back here today to apologize for it but was glad to see I made you smile and didn't hurt your feelings. I totally didn't say the positive thoughts I had, such as "wow, that is a beautiful loaf!" or "man, Gloria takes gorgeous food pictures!" Anyway, I will def be trying this--bananas are on my shopping list this week. :)

  4. your bread looks beautiful! I love all of the ingredients in this recipe...I can tell it is good!! thanks!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

    1. Thanks Annmarie! This was a big hit at our house and I can't wait to make it again. I have some bananas getting ripe on my counter right now. ;)

  5. What a yummy looking bread. Glad to see it didn't contain tea--we don't drink tea or coffee but I do have spices! I'm excited for a 'light' recipe that doesn't taste light.

    1. It definitely doesn't taste "light". And the spices are just right. Hope you enjoy it!

  6. Gloria, your photos are amazing! I love banana bread in any incarnation, but my girls do not (grrrr!)
    I often make chai and love all the spices in it (but I still have to have my Turkish coffee in the morning:)
    Plain yogurt is a staple in my fridge, but I grew up on it and eat it daily (Trader Joe's Organic yogurt is my favorite!) Making buttermilk is very easy and I am glad you put out the instructions.
    Have a great week, my friend!

  7. what fantastic bread - a brilliant recipe and your photos are really gorgeous!
    mary x

  8. this looks delicious! I love banana bread and am a huge chai fan...can't believe I've never thought to combine the 2! So glad I found you...thank god for pinterest!

  9. I totally agree with you about Cooking Light! I'm on my second year of my subscriptions and am ready to cancel too... The recipes aren't bad, it's just hard to get excited about the results. What other recipes have you tried? The Peach Gorgonzola Pizza from the May 2011 issue (you could look up online...) is one of the few I repeat!!

  10. Spiced bananas! Clever idea and I bet deliciously different, since the banana bread is such a cliche by now... and such a great one. I´m definitely trying this one. The pictures are beautiful, they captured the warmth of the spieces!

  11. Your comment reminded me I forgot to tell you I finally Woman'ed up and made the chai banana bread! We both liked how pretty it was-it had the best look of all those we tested. But since it was a lighter recipe, it couldn't really compete with full-fat breads. I liked the flavor and there was nothing wrong with it for a light recipe, but for the fair I would probably add some more butter if I were going to submit it.

  12. Hi Gloria, I found your recipe today and it inspired me! I changed a few things: substituted 3/8 cup of raw honey for the white sugar, folded the wet and dry ingredients together instead of blending it, and I made muffins instead of bread and baked them for about 22 min. They turned out amazing! I always seem to have frozen bananas on hand and this was a great alternative to regular banana muffins. Thanks for sharing!

  13. This banana chai bread was delicious. It was a hit at work and at home. Thanks for sharing such a delicious recipe!!!

  14. I made this today and the aroma while baking it was incredible! And it tasted great. I didn't glaze it. I loved the subtle "chai spice" taste to it. I found the recipe via 365 days of Baking. Thanks for sharing. It will be a keeper in my house.

  15. Make your food delicious with Indian spices which is famous among the world.

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