Do you have a house banana bread? You know, the one that’s comfy like your favorite t-shirt. You’ve made it so many times that the recipe is committed to memory, and will never let you down. I do — it’s the banana bread in my cookbook; it’s whole grain, and so easy my kids can make it mostly unsupervised.
Today’s toasted oat and hazelnut banana bread recipe is…not a t-shirt recipe. It’s more like the LBD of banana bread, that fancy thing that you keep in your closet for special occasions. I mean, there’s a mixer involved. And toasted flour! And hazelnuts! And let’s not forget the streusel! But hopefully it’s worth keeping around; because like the LBD, I think this recipe will make you look good and never let you down.
Toasted Oat Flour
I love sneaking oats into baked goods for taste and nutrition. While you can use oats plain, soaked, or even after cooked into a porridge, this time I’m adding oats as a flour — basically, oats ground into a flour consistency. Oat flour behaves similarly to wheat flour so it’s a great ingredient to try swapping in to your favorite recipes. It’s readily available at regular supermarkets and online these days (I like Oak Manor brand in Canada), though you can also make your own by grinding rolled oats in a high speed blender or grain mill (I own and love my NutriMill — not sponsored).
But wait — there’s more! We’re going to toast the oat flour to emphasize its nutty quality. Toasting flour is just like toasting nuts or spices — for small quantities, I like heating it in a dry skillet until it browns and smells like popcorn. Make sure to stir constantly as the grains can quickly scorch.
If you can’t track down oat flour, other whole grains like spelt or einkorn would work nicely in this bread too!
I think of hazelnuts as a fancy nut. To me, they make baked goods taste a little luxurious and unexpected. Like any nut, hazelnuts can go rancid quickly so I recommend buying only as much as you need and/or storing extras in the freezer.
Sometimes you can buy hazelnuts pre-blanched and roasted; but if you’re starting with raw hazelnuts you’ll need to roast them to remove the skins and develop the flavor. I do this in the oven at 325F for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the skins noticeably darken and the nuts are fragrant. While the nuts are still warm, wrap them in a lint-free towel and let them steam until cool enough to handle, then rub the skins off as best you can. It’s ok if you can’t get every trace off; just do your best as too much skin will make your baked goods taste bitter.
OK, last unique ingredient: praline paste. It sounds fancy, but basically it’s just roasted nuts and caramelized sugar ground up into a paste. Yes, it tastes as amazing as it sounds! You can buy praline paste at some specialty food stores or online (it’s often made with part hazelnuts, part almonds); or — you guessed it — you can make your own. There are a few different methods out there but I like to make the roasted nuts and caramelized sugar separately, then blend them together until smooth. I used a 1:1 ratio by weight (i.e. 100g roasted nuts and 100g caramelized sugar).
For the caramelized sugar, all you need to do is heat the sugar in a heatproof skillet until it turns a beautiful shade of amber, then pour it onto a silicone lined sheet to set (be careful, it’s HOT). If you’re using the dry method for caramel (no water), you can stir the sugar to ensure it melts evenly. If you prefer the wet method (a little water added at the start to help the sugar melt evenly), just stir at the very beginning to make sure all the sugar is wet, then leave it alone to do its thing. It really doesn’t matter what method you use — whichever is more comfortable for you.
Once both the caramel is set and cooled, break it into shards. Place the caramel shards, roasted nuts, and a good pinch of salt into a high speed blender or food processor, then grind until you get a powder. Scrape the sides of your machine down, then continue grinding until you get a creamy, smooth paste (this may take 5-10 minutes). Transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature or in the fridge (bring to room temp before using). The oil will separate after sitting so just give it a good stir to recombine when needed.
How else can you use praline paste?
- Spread it as a topping on toast, crepes, waffles, ice cream, etc.
- Swirl it into brownies or cheesecake batter.
- Use it to flavor buttercream or whipped cream!
You can also use this technique with other nuts: pecan praline? Pistachio praline? Peanut praline? Yes, yes, and yes!
Yes, you could sub the praline paste with something like Nutella. However, I really like the pure hazelnut flavor in this loaf, sans the distraction of chocolate.
Now on to the recipe!
For the toasted oat flour:
- 115g oat flour*
For the hazelnut-oat streusel:
- 25g all-purpose flour
- 25g toasted oat flour
- 42g granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 42g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
- 20g roasted hazelnuts, chopped
For the toasted oat and hazelnut banana bread:
- 165g all purpose flour
- 85g toasted oat flour
- 290g very ripe banana, mashed (about 3 medium)
- 57g sour cream, at room temperature
- 115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 190g light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 40g neutral oil
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 65g roasted hazelnuts, chopped
- 80g praline paste** or Nutella (optional)
Make the toasted oat flour:
- Sprinkle the oat flour in an even layer in a medium skillet. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the flour turns a shade darker and smells like popcorn. Transfer to a heat-safe bowl and let cool completely before using. (Note: this makes a little more flour than the recipe calls for to account for moisture weight loss and bits left in the pan, etc.)
Make the hazelnut oat streusel:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
- Scatter the cubes of the butter over the top and rub them into the dry ingredients until moist clumps form. Fold in the hazelnuts.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the toasted oat and hazelnut banana bread:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with arack in the center. Line a 9 x 4-inch (23 x 10-cm) Pullman pan or loaf pan with a parchment paper sling, leaving about 3 inches (7.5 cm) of overhang on the long sides for easy removal. Lightly grease the pan and parchment.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour and toasted oat flour.
- In a separate bowl or measuring jug, whisk together the mashed banana and sour cream until smooth.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), combine the butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Mix on low to combine, then turn the speed up to medium. Cream until the mixture is visibly lightened and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl several times during this process.
- With the mixer on low, stream in the oil. Turn the mixer up to medium and mix until very smooth and emulsified. Scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat well. Scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low, add the flour and banana-sour cream mixture in five additions, beginning and ending with the flour. When a few streaks of flour remain, add the hazelnuts, mixing just enough to evenly distribute them. Use a flexible spatula to fold from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure the batter is well-mixed.
- Spoon about 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan and level with an offset spatula. Dollop about 1/3 of the praline paste or Nutella on top. Repeat the process twice more. Swirl a chopstick or knife gently through the batter to create swirls of praline. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top.
- Bake for about 60 to 75 minutes, or until the bread feels set
on the top and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just
a few moist crumbs (but no wet batter).
- Remove the bread from the oven. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Store leftover bread, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for several days.
**Praline paste is available in gourmet/specialty food stores or online. Alternatively, you can make your own by caramelizing 100g granulated sugar, then pouring onto a silicone lined baking sheet to set until completely hardened. Break into shards and place in a blender or food processor with 100g roasted and skinned hazelnuts (or equal parts hazelnuts and almonds) and a pinch of salt. Blend until a smooth paste forms. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 months.