Easy as, well, mango banana bread

Mangoes, in season April through June, are at their peak right now. Ripe mango and bananas, chopped walnuts, and vanilla create a flavorful, not-too-sweet dessert (or breakfast) bread. Substituting canola oil for butter lightens it up.

Blue Kitchen
Mangos add an extra tang and a tropical twist to classic banana bread.

That’s right. The guy who never bakes has baked again. But a bread like this is so easy that it doesn’t feel like baking. There’s no sifting, no kneading, no waiting for dough to rise (and punching it down and waiting some more). You don’t even need to haul out the mixer for this bread – a wooden spoon will do just fine.

Of course despite the name, mango banana bread is really more of a loaf cake than a bread. And therein lies some of the ease. You’re not producing a temperature-humidity-time-sensitive dough; you’re making a batter. At least for me, batters are much more forgiving. 

For everyone else, too, it seems. In looking at banana bread recipes, my starting point for this one, I found that ingredients (and quantities of said ingredients) varied impressively. Three bananas, five bananas. Two cups of flour, a mere 1-1/4 cups. One egg or two, milk or no milk. Baking soda only (and not much of that) or baking soda and powder. Butter or oil or (yikes) margarine. And yet all produced results people were happy to share.

So why mangoes? For starters, they’re in season right now. Yes, since they’re grown everywhere from Asia to South and Central America, Spain, the United States (Florida, California and Hawaii), Australia and Africa, you’ll find them in the supermarket pretty much year-round. But from April through June, they’re especially plentiful, flavorful, and affordable. The mango’s orange/melon/apricot flavor works equally well with sweet and savory dishes, showing up in salsas, sorbets, chutneys and even cocktails.

And in this delicious, moist bread. The diced mango pieces soften into bits of tropical brightness that melt on your tongue. The bananas add the trademark mellow sweetness that makes banana breads a perennial favorite. And the chopped walnuts deliver an earthy, nutty, delicate crunch.

Mango banana bread
Serves 12

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola or cooking oil (plus extra for greasing baking dish)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 large, ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Grease a 5 by 9-inch glass baking dish with a little of the oil. Set aside.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly.

4. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, bananas, sugar, oil and vanilla. Add banana mixture to flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Fold in mango and walnuts. Transfer batter to baking dish.

5. Bake in center of the oven until a wooden pick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean, about 50 minutes (check at 45 minutes – oven temperatures vary).

6. Transfer baking dish to a wire cooling rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Carefully work around the edges of the bread with a thin, flexible baking spatula to loosen it and turn it out onto the rack. Let the bread cool completely before serving (that was the hardest part of this recipe).

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