Strawberry bread! It’s like banana bread — in fact, it’s even made with bananas — but instead of being cloyingly sweet like banana bread, it’s moist, moderately sweet, and chewy because of the delicious dried strawberries. And, if you WANT it to be super sweet, simply use very very brown and ripe bananas, and voila! But that version I would call “strawberry banana bread” versus what this is, strawberry bread that is made with bananas.
If you WANT it to be super sweet, simply make sure the bananas are very very brown and ripe, and voila!
Here is the recipe I originally made, my thoughts, and the feedback I got from my INTJ boss lady (who is of course, a masterful cook herself) and three coworkers. (I’m INFJ — what? You’re 0.0% shocked???)
3 yellow (not rotting, zombie, fly-infested, bruised) bananas
3 small or 2 large eggs
1 box of white cake mix
1 4oz package of dried strawberries
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mash the bananas till they’re totally disgusting and gooey and look like elephant mucus and then mix the eggs in, until the bowl is filled with an even grosser looking concoction of what definitely resembles bodily fluids. Then pour in the cake mix — just dump it all in otherwise you’ll over mix it and the bread will be tough. Mix thoroughly and add the small bag of dried strawberries and give it a good stir to evenly incorporate the strawberries (if you are not a total brat like some people who get a craving for a certain food and then don’t want to spend extra time on making it, chop the strawberries until they’re minced before stirring them in). Then pour the batter into an ungreased (or, fine, grease it if you want to) loaf pan. Here’s exactly how I baked it and it came out perfectly:
42 minutes — checked it, not set on top
Another 10 minutes — looked good but still too soft when I pushed gently on the top
5 minutes later, knife inserted in the center came out perfectly clean.
My oven is exactly the right temperature so when I make this again, I’ll probably check at 52 minutes and again at 55 with the knife.
Now I LOVE pinterest and I love banana bread … but I love strawberries more, and if you know anything about pinterest, you know that it’s very easy to fall down a rabbit hole quickly. One thing leads to another — you’ve gone from banana bread to strawberry banana bread to strawberry pudding to butterscotch pudding to jello to hello dolly in ten seconds and you wonder if you accidentally fell through a Narnia portal into an abyss of non sequiter pins. BUT FEAR NOT — the search bar remembers what you were actually looking for and it’s easy to get back!! So during one of these click-bait adventures, I saw a recipe for “cake mix banana bread” which only required one box of yellow cake mix, 2 large eggs, 3 bananas, stir, pour, bake, etc. I thought, Wow, I hate yellow cake. It’s so gross. I bet that tastes like banana yellow cake. Ick. So I simply moved on, and that’s when I saw a strawberry cake mix recipe – exactly the same additional ingredients, but instead of yellow cake mix, strawberry. Now, again, I’ve had “strawberry” cake mix before and it doesn’t taste like strawberry at all. It tastes … pink. Or like strawberry gum. It’s okay but I wanted the taste of real strawberries. Now, I did see a recipe that called for adding a few tablespoons of strawberry jam to the recipe I modified (so made with yellow cake mix instead of white) and I’m glad I did not add that, because I really liked the taste of the bread I ended up with and so did most everyone who tried it (4 out of 5, including me).
Me: UMMM, I like this, yum. OMG the butter is melting and drizzling off the bread onto my fingers, oh God, this is so good. I think I’ll add half a cup of brown sugar next time.
Me after it cooled completely the next day — without butter: Ummm, this would be really good with lemon curd on it. I love the bites with the dried strawberries — next time I’ll try it with TWO packages of dried strawberries and mince them. (Notice I did not have the same thought about adding brown sugar the next day. Why? Does anyone know why?)
Once I got to work …
Boss: This is good but how ripe were the bananas?
Me: They were yellow – I don’t like them mushy, so it’s more like strawberry bread than strawberry banana bread. (Contemplative pause.) You don’t like it.
Her: I do. I like the dried strawberries.
Me: I don’t like how frozen strawberries turn everything red and I didn’t want pink bread.
Her: Yes, the dried strawberries are a really nice touch.
Me: I couldn’t get the loaf to come out of the pan so I had to bring it with.
Her: Next time let it cool just fifteen minutes before you cut around the sides and it will slide right out.
Enter our resident hipster foodie musical-lover (INTJ escapes my further analysis of her microexpressions):
Him: Sarah. (pause) I tried the bread. (pause pause) It’s great. GREAT. Moist. Really suave. Loved it.
Me: you did?? you didn’t think it wasn’t banana-y enough?
Him: No. Perfect. Light. I LOVE the strawberries. They’re dried?
Me: Yes, I just mixed in a small pouch of dried strawberries because I didn’t want pink bread.
Him (before vanishing back into a windowless room he lights up with his soul): Good. Job.
Enter my Boomer friend who is a great baker and who was skeptical about making a bread with a cake mix when I told her about the pinterest recipe I’d seen the day before.
Her: Sarah, I love it! It’s great! I had a substantial chunk.
Me: Wouldn’t it taste so good with lemon curd? (admittedly, yes, that was random – I basically like my sweet bread the way I like my ice cream — Ben and Jerry-rigged)
Her: Ahhh, I wouldn’t say lemon curd but maybe toasted with a little butter or almond butter.
Me: … or maybe strawberry jam?
Her: Actually, it’s exactly right the way it is, plain. It needs nothing. So did you use a cake mix??
Me: Yes! I used a white cake mix instead of yellow, and used dried strawberries instead of frozen.
Her: great idea! I’m amazed that the cake mix tastes so good. I would have thought the old fashioned way would have tasted better — I can’t tell the difference. Wow! Good job!
(Me: speechless I was so glad she liked it — her chocolate cake tastes like it comes fedexed from an enchanted Mayan realm of cocoa bliss through a space-time interruption pipe)
Enter my fellow Millennial who is a self described picky eater:
Her: I really liked the parts where I couldn’t taste the banana.
Me: You couldn’t taste the banana in some parts?
Her: I bit into a chunk of banana and I didn’t like that part but the rest – Sarah – it was good.
Me: You didn’t think you would like it?
Me: You liked the dried strawberries?
(note to self: next time I make it, I will completely blend the batter in the blender or mixer so there are no banana chunks if I’m bringing it to work)
VERDICT: Suave as charged.
Everyone loved the dried strawberries. No one could tell it was made with cake mix instead of the old fashioned way.
Suave. Hipster coworker captured the essence of this recipe. This bread would be a great gift to someone you want to give a unique food present to, such as a teacher or good friend or sister or aunt … it’s the Anthropologie of bread: it seems unusual when taken altogether but each individual part is familiar if you look closely. If you want it to be a comfort food bread, make sure the bananas are all very very ripe and sweet, and you have strawberry banana bread! (And maybe add that fourth a cup of strawberry preserves or jam.)
Final thoughts: This bread would be really nice as a light dessert with butter spread on top along with a glass of rose while enjoying the cool breeze on a summer picnic … in an enchanted strawberry forest. If you make it, I would love to know your thoughts!