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Maui’s Road to Hana Banana Bread

Macadamia Nut Banana Bread

Have you ever been to Maui?

It’s wonderful – but before we go any further, let’s at least get you in a Maui frame of mind with some island music from my favorite Hawaiian group, Hapa

Macadamia Nut Banana Bread

 

There.  That’s much better.

Aloha Dreams

Welcome to Aloha Dreams!

I'm so glad you dropped by.  I'm Betsy.  Here you'll find my favorite fabulous, trusted recipes - everything from delicious, quick meals for your family to wonderful classics made easy.

I'm also here to help you with large group recipes from 20 to 200.  So next opportunity you get to cook for a large group - Say 'Yes!'  Then relax. I've got your back.

Ever wished you could build your dream home? How about building your dream home in a tropical paradise?  Join me, room by room, as we design and build a fabulous dream home in Hawaii!

Maui’s Road to Hana Banana Bread

Macadamia Nut Banana Bread

Have you ever been to Maui?

It’s wonderful – but before we go any further, let’s at least get you in a Maui frame of mind with some island music from my favorite Hawaiian group, Hapa

Macadamia Nut Banana Bread

 

There.  That’s much better.

Like the Big Island of Hawaii, Maui has many moods.  From the high-end resort feeling of the south shore…

Macadamia Nut Banana Bread

…to the laid-back rural feel of the beautiful upcountry area…

Macadamia Nut Banana Bread

Maui both excites and soothes.   We just got back from a wonderful vacation to Maui.   We snorkeled (no diving this trip), boogie boarded (what a blast!) and enjoyed many fantastic meals (more on those in the future).   And of all the fabulous things we ate on Maui, one of my favorite things was the Road to Hana Banana Bread.

The Road to Hana is 64 miles long, following the shoreline with 620 curves.  Besides being windy, the highway is very narrow and passes over 59 bridges, 46 of which are only one lane wide.  It takes almost 3 hours one-way, and that’s IF you don’t stop anywhere.  Granted, it’s lovely…

… and it winds through some of the most lush tropical rain forest and offers some of the most amazing waterfalls and you’ve ever seen…

… and there are certainly even some gorgeous beaches…

But driving the entire 6 hour round trip sounded like WAY more work than I wanted to sign (Jeff) up for.  

However, there IS one thing not to be missed from the road to Hana (besides not driving it) – the Banana Bread stands.  I suspect these sprung up over the years to keep the captive audience from revolting at the very thought of the drive.  But they are worth the trip alone.

Like this one…

Or this one…

And the most famous of all, Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread Stand.

The good news is you can get various versions of this wonderful banana bread at Farmer’s Markets throughout the island.  After trying several slices (alright loaves!), I knew I wanted to recreate it. 

Here’s what I learned about how to make the very best banana bread.

I started by modifying my base recipe with some fantastic suggestions from Stella Parks over at one of my favorite food sites, Seriouseats.com.  Stella is a world-class baker and knows a thing or ten about the science of baking.  I was already incorporating buttermilk for moisture in my basic banana bread recipe and on her suggestion, I swapped it for plain Greek yogurt.   Because it’s thicker than buttermilk, yogurt (whether full-fat or skim) thickens the batter, enabling it to peak more in the oven, coming out nicely domed instead of flat.

Macadamia Nut Banana Bread

Next, if at all possible, use a scale to weight the flour.  I always do when baking.  The scale is the best kitchen investment I’ve made.  You want 240 grams of flour.  My second recommendation is to get an instant-read thermometer.  It’s the second-best kitchen investment I’ve made.  Your bread is done at 206 degrees.  No more guess-work!! Yea!!!

Stella also recommends coconut oil.  According to her, the reason most banana bread recipes call for oil instead of butter, is because oil contains more fat per ounce.  That produces a loaf that’s especially rich and moist.   The problem with oil is that it can sometimes make banana bread feel heavy and wet, or just a touch greasy.   Instead coconut oil makes banana bread as rich and moist as butter, but without the heavy, wet greasiness of oil.  Here’s what you’re looking for.

Some other tips I would offer you for banana bread as good as what you can get on the Road to Hana are to use bananas with a sprinkling of brown spots, like the ones below – this avoids a dense, gummy loaf which can be caused by bananas that are completely or even mostly black.

Macadamia Nut Banana Bread

Also, make sure you toast the nuts.  It adds a wonderful depth of flavor to the bread.  I like to use pecan, but macadamia nuts will work great too, for a true island twist.

I used to have a tough time in the past knowing when my bread was done.  There’s a simple cure for that.  Your bread is done when it reaches an internal temperature of around 206°F.   If you don’t already have one, buy yourself an instant read digital thermometer.   No more guessing and you’ll have bread that is spot-on perfect every time.

Finally, I like a bit of sugary crunch on the top of my banana bread, so I sprinkle it with a bit of sanding sugar.

I know you’ll enjoy eating this Road to Hana Banana Bread recipe as much as I did.  It’s a great addition to a family breakfast or weekend BBQ.  Enjoy and aloha!

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5 from 6 votes
Maui Road to Hana Banana Bread
Maui Road to Hana Banana Bread
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 
Adapted from the wonderful Stella Parks over at Seriouseats.com 

While the coconut oil is not strictly necessary, it makes the banana bread as rich and moist as oil. And because it's solid at room temperature, it provides the slow-melting richness of butter without making the loaf heavy and wet, or greasy. 

An AlohaDreams.com recipe

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 17 slices
Author: Betsy Edwards
Ingredients
  • 4 medium bananas , ripe
  • 4 ounces plain Greek yogurt , preferably nonfat
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (that's 9 ounces or 240 grams)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 1/4 ounces coconut oil - virgin or refined (3/4 cup)(Can substitute 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter)
  • 4 ounces toasted pecan or macadamia nuts - chopped
Instructions
  1. Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line one 10 1/2– by 5 1/2–inch OR two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans loaf pan with enough parchment paper that it drapes over each side several inches.
  3. Peel 4 bananas (you should have about 12 ounces) and in a medium bowl mash bananas with 4 ounces yogurt, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons water and 1 teaspoon vanilla. NOTE: If bananas are under-ripe, cover bowl with plastic and let mixture stand 30 minutes.

  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add 240 grams flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon table salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 3/4 cup solid coconut oil. Mix on low until mixture becomes a mealy powder. Add banana mixture and continue mixing only until no more flour is visible. Fold in nuts and scrape into prepared pan(s), spreading into an even layer.

  5. Bake until risen and golden brown - about about 50 minutes for two smaller loaves (or 70 minutes for a large loaf).  Bread is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 206°F.

  6. When done, set the loaf, still in the pan, on a wire cooling rack. Let cool for 10 minutes — this helps the loaf solidify and makes it easier to remove from the pan.

  7. Remove from pan and cool another 10 minutes. Grasping the parchment paper sling, lift the loaf out of the pan and place on the on the cooling rack. Cool for another 10 minutes before slicing.
MAKE AHEAD NOTE:
  1. Wrapped tightly in foil, banana bread will keep up to 3 days at room temperature or 1 week in the fridge. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Recipe Notes

To keep this simple, you can substitute 1 stick of butter (salted or unsalted) for the coconut oil and omit the yogurt entirely if you wish.

11 Comments

  1. Maki


    It was not exactly the same as what we ate at Aunty Sandy’s, which was more dense, and this recipe was more toward fluffy. Maybe the way I mixed was not the same.
    Anyway, it turned out delicious : )
    Mahalo for the recipe!

    Reply
    • Betsy Edwards

      Glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  2. Shelly Rice


    This banana bread is moist and delicious! My Friends and family love it and say it’s by far the best! It’s even better toasted!! Thank you!”

    Reply
  3. Reanna Thompson

    the dry ingredients call for sugar but it doesn’t say how much.

    Reply
    • Betsy Edwards

      It’s 1 cup sugar. Try refreshing your browser and see if that allows you to see it. I hope you enjoy it! It’s one of my favorites.

      Reply
  4. kathleen f martin


    When we went to Hana, we had chocolate chip banana bread which was really good. I added chocolate chips to the pecans–works very well.

    Reply
    • Luz

      Could you verify the coconut oil… I don’t understand the 3/4 cup creamy but firm

      Reply
      • Betsy Edwards

        Sorry, that’s not very clear is it. You want the coconut oil to be solid (as opposed to liquid vegetable oil) but creamy like mayonnaise. If stored at room temperature, it will be fine right out of the jar.

        Reply
  5. E Angelo

    There is water in the ingredient list but nowhere in the method does it tell you when to add it?

    Reply
    • Betsy Edwards

      Good catch. Correcting now. It goes in with the vanilla

      Reply
  6. Jan Ridgeway


    Fantastic!

    Reply

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Welcome to Aloha Dreams!

I'm so glad you dropped by.  I'm Betsy.  Here you'll find my favorite fabulous, trusted recipes - everything from delicious, quick meals for your family to wonderful classics made easy.

I'm also here to help you with large group recipes from 20 to 200.  So next opportunity you get to cook for a large group - Say 'Yes!'  Then relax. I've got your back.

Ever wished you could build your dream home? How about building your dream home in a tropical paradise?  Join me, room by room, as we design and build a fabulous dream home in Hawaii!

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