Molasses Banana Bread … or Is It Cake?

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Food on Fridays, Simply Hot Recipes, and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Sometimes it’s fond memories that can save a girl. For this month’s challenge over on Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Linda (Gluten-Free Homemaker) chose cake. And, she’s been wowing us with the cakes that she’s come up with—the last one even after going dairy free! First there was Orange Pineapple Cake (not dairy free, but easily made so, if needed) and this week she shared a Lemon Bundt Cake. When Linda first issued the cake challenge, I found all sorts of ideas rolling around in my head, and, well, every single one of them is still there … not fully formulated yet. But, last week for a girlfriends’ tea that I hosted I found myself pulling out a recipe that’s become a family favorite—Molasses Banana Bread.

My good friend, Ann, found the recipe on the back of a molasses jar. She emailed it to me. I immediately converted it to gluten free and well, the rest as they say, is history. Traditional, “blonde” banana bread has not been baked in my loaf pans since.

So where does the “cake” factor come in? Well, this banana bread made with molasses is dark and rich, and tastes a lot like a famous chocolate cinnamon cake that is served at one of our local restaurants. Without fail when I make this and give Mr. GFE a chunk, he always says, “Hmmm, chocolate cake.” (LOL Okay, maybe he’s a slow study when it comes to this bread.) And, when I made it as part of a dinner (which also included special turkey breast and pan-baked potatoes) for a co-worker friend whose wife was ill, he came back the next day raving over all, but corrected me on the molasses banana bread. “That’s not bread,” he said. “That’s cake!” So thanks to that memory of Perry for saving me on Linda’s cake challenge!

Molasses Banana Bread
(Click here for a printable version of this recipe.)
4 tbsp butter, softened (or coconut oil, liquefied)
3/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup sugar (granulated sugar, Demerera sugar; I bet coconut sugar would be great, too)
1 1/4 cup “all-purpose” gluten-free flour mix*
1 heaping tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup chopped nuts (optional, I used walnuts this time)

Other optional ingredients are mini chocolate chips, orange zest, and nutmeg.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease loaf pan (I used two mini loaf pans) and then coat with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. (I always have cinnamon-sugar made up for my cinnamon-sugar-crusted almond popovers.)
Cream butter, molasses, and sugar.
Whisk in flour, salt, baking soda and xanthan gum until well mixed and evenly brown.
Beat in eggs.

Stir in bananas and any optional ingredients.
Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. (Even the mini loaves take 50 minutes.) Cool in pan for 10 – 15 minutes before removing to cool completely. Now see if you can hold off from eating a piece!

*I can’t always tolerate many of the healthier, gluten-free flours; e.g., sorghum, buckwheat. Therefore, my gluten-free flour mix is 3 parts Asian white rice flour (which is very finely ground) and 2 parts cornstarch. I gently mix three one-lb bags of the Asian white rice flour and two one-lb boxes of cornstarch in a very large bowl and then store the mix in several airtight containers. It’s a very economical mix that works well in most recipes. No refrigeration is needed. However, I’m sure another mix of other gluten-free flours that one would use in similar recipes could work as well.

Adapted from a recipe on the back of the molasses jar thanks to my friend, Ann

One of my new Twitter friends is Kim Maes of Cook It Allergy Free. When I mentioned I had Molasses Banana Bread baking in the oven, a few folks got excited! Kim stated that she had all the ingredients and asked when I would post the recipe. Knowing how posts can get OBE (overcome by events), I emailed Kim the recipe rather than make her wait. She emailed me later that when she went to make the recipe, she discovered that her children had consumed all the bananas she had on hand. But, what mom can complain about her kids eating bananas? So she picked up some more bananas the next day and made the recipe. She sent me her review:

“That bread was DELICIOUS!!! Oh my goodness! I cannot believe the flavor that the molasses lends to it.  I have not combined molasses and bananas before, but they work so great together!!”

She also told me about the changes she made:

“Only thing different that I did was that I used 1 cup of Pamela’s flour blend and 1/4 cup of almond flour (I always try to add a little almond flour into all of my baking – Pamela’s has some in it too).  Since almond flour is pretty heavy, I separated out 1 of the whites and after beating in the other whole egg and yolk, I separately beat the one separated white and folded it in so that I would get a little more rise out of the bread.  Worked great!!!”

Here’s Kim’s photo. She took it at night (not daring to wait until morning when her hungry kids were up!), so she said it was not her best. I still think it’s great. The bread looks absolutely delicious and her healthier version looks very similar to mine.

So, bread or cake? It’s molasses and bananas that come together with a crusty cinnamon-sugar coating to taste like delicious cake, even if it is shaped like a loaf. After all, even my perfect pound cake, I bake in loaf pans. Make this recipe and then tell me what you think it should be called.

Not just gf, but gfe!

Not just gf, but gfe!

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43 Responses to “Molasses Banana Bread … or Is It Cake?”

  1. glutenfreeforgood on June 2nd, 2010 8:10 am

    Cake! It looks like a scrumptious, dark, rich version of pound cake, rather than traditional banana bread! Love the addition of molasses. The orange zest idea is also a winner. Good one, Shirley!

    • Shirley on June 3rd, 2010 6:08 am

      Hi Melissa–I like a girl who knows what she thinks! Thanks for your cake vote! :-) Honestly, it has more of a regular cake texture than pound cake, but it’s definitely a winner. I love molasses, too–good stuff! And, I don’t think one could go wrong with just about any tasty option added to this recipe. ;-)



  2. Iris on June 2nd, 2010 8:21 am

    Oh molasses banana bread! You are SO a woman after my own heart! Or stomach I guess. I love banana breads, I love sweets flavored with molasses. The two together is a perfect idea.

    • Shirley on June 3rd, 2010 6:09 am

      Hi Iris–LOL … out hearts and stomachs have a direct connection as that old saying goes. ;-) Molasses and bananas are indeed perfect together! :-)

      Thanks so much,

  3. Chaya on June 2nd, 2010 10:53 am

    Who cares if it is cake or bread. What counts, it that it is good. I do want to try this but if it tastes like chocolate, according to your hubby, then mine won’t like it.

    I guess, I will have to find out for myself.

    Thanks for what looks like a fantastic recipe.

    • Shirley on June 3rd, 2010 6:13 am

      Hi Chaya–Yes, you do have a point. LOL As long as Linda let me submit it for Gluten-Free Wednesday, who cares right? ;-) (Of course, she accepted all entries, but I try to meet the desired requirements.) Taste is very subjective. I do agree with Mr. GFE that it has a chocolate-like taste, but I don’t think it’s enough to deter a non-chocolate fan. I’ll look forward to a report when you give it a try! :-)


  4. Alta on June 2nd, 2010 12:40 pm

    If I say it’s bread, I can totally have it for breakfast! So I go with bread. Even if it tastes like cake. I LOVE molasses – I have made a pumpkin molasses bread before, so bananas would be a natural choice! Yum.

    • Shirley on June 3rd, 2010 6:22 am

      Hi Alta–Okay, I have to admit that’s pretty good logic (and some that I’ve used myself LOL). ;-) I remember your pumpkin molasses bread—another great combination! I’ll look for you to make this recipe using more whole gf grains in the future. :-)


  5. Terry on June 2nd, 2010 12:48 pm

    I’m thinking raisins in it would be good, too, instead of the nuts. Yummmmmy! Thanks for the delish recipe that I am definitely going to try. Love making gluten free cooking an easy process–

    • Shirley on June 3rd, 2010 6:25 am

      Hi Terry–I don’t think you’ve commented at gfe before–welcome! :-) For the raisin lovers, raisins would indeed be a great idea! Gluten-free cooking should definitely be easy … and delicious. ;-)

      Please report back when you give this recipe a try …


  6. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios on June 2nd, 2010 7:36 pm

    My daughter is making it as I write. As soon as I told her about the recipe, she was Googling GFE and printing it out!

    • Shirley on June 3rd, 2010 6:28 am

      Hey V–I’m waiting to hear what you all thought. (I’m worried since she had issues with the oatmeal cookies. ) Fingers crossed that you’ll be happily enjoying a piece with a cup of tea this morning. ;-)


  7. Linda on June 3rd, 2010 9:51 am

    I love molasses in baked goods, but I don’t use it much for some reason. This looks delicious. I think I would still call it a bread, but definitely in the sweet bread category. Either way, it’s a great addition to this week’s carnival. Thanks for the shout out.

    • Shirley on June 4th, 2010 11:05 pm

      Hi Linda–Thank you! This recipe truly is delicious. :-) I think sometimes ingredients just drop off our cooking radar. We need little reminders. I’m always being reminded and inspired by other bloggers like you. ;-) Happy to give your blog and Gluten-Free Wednesday challenges a shout out!


  8. H.Peter on June 3rd, 2010 10:15 pm

    If it would be me, in a commercial, gluten free venture…..alltheoretical of course….I would sell it one day as cake, the next day as bread!
    HA! One recipe, two sales…

    • Shirley on June 4th, 2010 11:07 pm

      H.Peter–You are such a clever entrepreneur! Yep, make everyone happy that way—especially you. ;-)


  9. saxifrage on June 4th, 2010 10:40 pm

    This looks so unbelievably delicious! That photo is making my mouth water… Can’t wait to try it! Thanks for sharing ;-)

    • Shirley on June 5th, 2010 12:14 am

      Hi saxifrage–Thanks so much and welcome to gfe! :-) This really is a good one … can’t wait to hear your review!


  10. Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free on June 4th, 2010 11:53 pm

    I don’t think it matters to me if it’s bread or cake – I just want a piece. :) Molasses and banana sound like a fabulous combo.

    Kim from Cook it Allergy Free is a neat person and a great proponent of the GF community. Glad that she liked your cake-bread, too.

    • Shirley on June 5th, 2010 9:06 am

      Amy–Yep, you’re right. :-) I’d love a piece of this bread/cake deliciousness for breakfast right now. FYI–The banana flavoring doesn’t stand out … it just adds that wonderful moistness and body to the recipe. :-)

      I agree on Kim! I’m so very happy our paths crossed. :-) It seems like she’ll have to buy lots of bananas now … to keep her kids supplied with snacking fruit AND to make this recipe. ;-)


  11. Heather @CeliacFamily on June 5th, 2010 1:52 pm

    Looks quite yummy! I might even add chocolate chips. Is that too much?

    • Shirley on June 5th, 2010 2:50 pm

      Hi Heather–Thanks! :-) It really is a delicious recipe. I noted that mini chocolate chips were an optional ingredient (but any size would work). I wouldn’t add too many. Actually, the first several times I made this recipe, I used mini chocolate chips. The results were wonderful, but I don’t think this recipe really needs chocolate chips. So give it a go with chocolate chips and then when you don’t have any chocolate chips on hand, don’t be reluctant to make it again without. ;-)


  12. kathie on June 6th, 2010 7:09 pm

    Half my family can eat gluten, half cannot. This bridged the gap between the two halves, both halves loved it!

    • Shirley on June 7th, 2010 6:32 am

      Hi kathie–Welcome to gfe! :-) Your report on your molasses bread success totally made my day!! I grinned and thought Yippeeeee! Just call me the gfe mediator. ;-) I hope you will find many more recipes that bridge the gap. Mediterranean Chocolate Cake is a good one. It uses little flour and the cocoa and olive oil make for a delightful combination. Baking with olive oil sounds weird, but believe me it’s terrific. (There’s a great review from a reader who just commented on that recipe.) Perfect Pound Cake has made both side pretty happy, too. There’s really never any need to compromise on taste or texture when you eat gfe. Thanks so very much for taking the time to comment on your family’s appreciation of this recipe! :-)


  13. Aubree Cherie on June 8th, 2010 7:39 am

    Wow, this looks fantastic and moist and decadent and oh-so-tasty! Please excuse me as I wipe the drool from my lap. Seriously, yum, Shirley! :)

    ~Aubree Cherie

    • Shirley on June 8th, 2010 9:56 pm

      Hey Aubree–LOL … yep, it’s droolworthy for sure! I’m sure you could make it sugar free and delicious. Next go round, I’d love to try coconut sugar. It should work perfectly. :-)



  14. KathyinMD on June 10th, 2010 3:20 pm

    This is tasty! I used blackstrap molasses, so it’s not sweet at all. I put a little non-dairy cream cheese on my second slice – also yummy. My guy said he’d like to have some more, but with butter and jam. I love that there’s only 1/4 cup of fat and sugar in it! Thank you – and I can’t wait to try your perfect pound cake later. I have to go shopping for a few things first.

    • Shirley on June 11th, 2010 7:54 am

      Hi KathyinMD–Welcome to gfe! :-) Oh, I love this report–thank so much! I have not tried this recipe with blackstrap molasses yet and was wondering how it would be. Blackstrap molasses is full of nutrition! So glad to hear this recipe was just right for you and your guy!

      BTW, if you’re in Southern Maryland, you might consider traveling across the Potomac and joining us for one of our support group meetings. ;-) Oh, and I’ll look forward to a perfect pound cake review from you in the near future! :-)


  15. kathie on July 16th, 2010 10:49 am

    By the way, the printable recipe is missing some information (like how long to bake). You may want to look it over

    • Shirley on July 16th, 2010 11:03 am

      Hi kathie–Thanks SO much for letting me know! Sometimes the QA around here is really lacking. ;-) (That happens sometimes when I insert a photo in the recipe before I cut and paste it into the print window, then I have to cut and paste in pieces.) So glad you told me! Hope you enjoyed the bread if you made it (or will if you are going to)! :-)

      Thanks again, and happy Friday!


  16. Michelle on December 6th, 2010 9:25 pm

    Has anyone tried to make it with less molasses. I love it but the molasses is a bit much for the hubby. Any suggestions would be helpful. Also the xanthum gum is omitted as far as where it goes. I added it to the dry ingredients. Do you even need the xantham gum if you are using the flour mix with the cornstarch?

    • Shirley on December 9th, 2010 12:29 am

      Hi Michelle–Sorry for the delayed reply. I don’t know of anyone making it using molasses, but you should be able to substitute honey for part of the molasses. It will be different, but should still taste great.

      Thanks for the heads up on the xanthan gum! I fixed that. I make my classic pumpkin bread, which is a similar type bread, often without xanthan gum. It is a bit more crumbly without it, but you can do it in that recipe and I’m guessing you can omit it here, too.

      Best of luck with your changes!

  17. wendi on April 27th, 2011 12:37 am

    I wonder if flax eggs would work. What do you think?

    • Shirley on April 27th, 2011 10:12 am

      Hi wendi–It looks like you are new here at gfe–welcome! :-) Because there are only two eggs in this recipe, flax eggs may well work. Have you tried chia eggs yet? Some folks like them even better. Let us know what you try and how it works out. I can’t guarantee anything, but the possibility is promising.


  18. Kathie on October 23rd, 2013 10:52 am

    Dang you Shirley! You have spoiled my son. This is the banana bread recipe that he likes best. I cannot thank you enough for all the great recipes. My son was diagnosed with Celiac almost 4 years ago. You are one of the websites I recommend to anyone recently diagnosed. Thanks for all the help you never even knew you gave me!

    • Shirley on October 23rd, 2013 11:03 pm

      LOL, Kathie! You are the sweetest! I am so happy to have helped your family and I honestly believe our gluten-free loved ones, especially our boys, should be spoiled. ;-) It’s a sort of payback for the challenges of living gluten free when young. I know I spoiled my gluten-free boy! I’ve made this recipe for many—gf and non-gf—and it’s always loved. :-) Thanks for sharing gfe and All Gluten-Free Desserts with others, dear!


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