Gluten Free Marbled Banana Bread

This gluten free marbled banana bread is incredibly soft and moist, with a deliciously caramelised crust, and a wonderful flavour of mingling vanilla and chocolate. It’s also very easy to make, and you couldn’t possibly guess it’s gluten free!

Overhead view of the marbled banana bread, with a few slices cut.

It’s been decidedly too long since I’ve posted a new banana bread recipe. So, I’m here to remedy that.

When it comes to banana bread, the possibilities truly are endless. From just one basic recipe (a good and reliable one, that promises a moist, soft interior and deliciously caramelised edges every single time) you can dream up endless variations, just with the simple addition of things like cocoa powder, chocolate, nuts and all sorts of fruit.

So far, we’ve baked gluten free chocolate chip banana bread, double chocolate banana bread and even vegan banana bread with chocolate chips and pecans.

This time, we’re going for that classic combination of chocolate and vanilla – in the form of an eye-catching marbled loaf. A marbled loaf or pound cake has been on my to-bake list for absolute ages, and making a marbled banana bread seemed like the perfect opportunity.

And let me tell you: it was 1000% the right decision.

A hand holding a slice of the marbled banana bread.

Here’s why you’ll LOVE this gluten free marbled banana bread

1. The flavour – This is the perfect treat for anyone who can’t quite decide whether vanilla or chocolate is the way to go. With this banana bread, you get both… it’s basically a best-of-both-worlds situation, in the form of banana bread.

The vanilla part is all about the caramel notes of the mashed bananas and the light brown sugar, along with the subtle notes of the vanilla bean paste. The chocolate part, on the other hand, is a chocolatey flavour explosion – thanks to the addition of both melted dark chocolate AND Dutch processed cocoa batter into the batter.

And while each part is delicious on its own, taste them together and you’ll get… fireworks.

2. The texture – This recipe ticks pretty much every banana-bread-texture box there is: the interior is soft and fluffy and perfectly moist, with a perfectly caramelised crust that has just the right amount of bite to it. This isn’t an airy, light loaf. It’s substantial, packed full of flavour and buttery goodness and three whole bananas – but without being too dense or unpleasantly heavy.

3. It’s incredibly easy to make – While the end effect is stunning and delicious, this marbled banana bread is truly simple to prepare. And you don’t need a stand or hand mixer, you can easily prepare it by hand.

4. It’s gluten free – And you couldn’t possibly guess it.

5. And it’s gorgeous – I mean, this one is pretty much self-explanatory. Just look at it!!!

Marbled banana bread, with a few slices already cut, on a light grey tea towel.

Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this wonderful banana bread – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!

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How do you make gluten free marbled banana bread?

Making marbled banana bread is super easy. Here, I’ll give you just a brief overview of the steps required, but scroll down to the bottom of the page (or click on the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this page) for the full recipe, including the ingredient quantities.

To make this gluten free marbled banana bread:

  1. Drizzle bananas with lemon juice and mash them up until quite smooth – it doesn’t need to be as smooth as baby food or a smoothie, but avoid any large chunks. (The lemon juice prevents oxidation and browning.)
  2. Whisk together melted butter, caster/superfine and light brown sugars.
  3. Add the eggs, vanilla bean paste and mashed bananas, and mix until combined.
  4. Sift in the dry ingredients (gluten free flour blend, almond flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg) and mix until combined.
  5. Spoon out about 1/3 of the batter, and mix in some melted chocolate and Dutch processed cocoa powder.
  6. Alternately spoon the two batters into a lined loaf tin until no batter remains.
  7. Use a skewer or knife to swirl the batter around the tin – make sure you reach all the way to the bottom of the tin. (Don’t be shy about giving the batter a generous swirl, but also don’t over-swirl it, as it can destroy the effect of having two distinct batters.)
  8. Bake!

See? It’s easy!

Step-by-step process of assembling the marbled banana bread.

How long do you bake banana bread?

If you follow the recipe below and use a 2lb/900g loaf tin, you’ll have to bake the banana bread for about 1 hour at 355ºF (180ºC). If you’re using a fan oven, decrease the oven temperature by 20ºC.

How do you know when banana bread is done?

Like with most other batter-based bakes (think cakes, sponges, brownies, cupcakes and muffins), the most reliable way to determine when and whether your banana bread is baked to perfection, is to do what I like to call the “toothpick test”.

Basically, just insert a toothpick or skewer into the middle of the banana bread – if it comes out clean or with a few stray crumbs attached, the banana bread is done. If, however, the toothpick is covered in half baked batter, it needs to be baked longer.

It’s also likely that the top of your banana bread will become dark golden brown before the banana bread is fully baked through. To prevent it from burning, just cover it with aluminium/kitchen foil (shiny side up), and continue baking until done.

Overhead view of the gluten free marbled banana bread, with a few slices cut.

How long should banana bread cool before cutting?

I usually recommend cooling the banana bread in the loaf tin for about 10 minutes, and then removing it out of the tin onto a wire cooling rack to cool until warm (this usually takes an extra 20-30 minutes). At that point, the interior of the banana bread should be warm rather than super hot – so go ahead and tuck in!

Can bananas be too ripe for banana bread?

Short answer: not really.

Long answer: you want to use really ripe bananas in your banana bread (those will give you the highest amount of sweetness and flavour) – but not so ripe that they become starchy and have an unpleasant taste/smell.

So, if your bananas are super ripe but still smell and taste OK – they’re good to use in your banana bread.

Can you make banana bread with frozen bananas?

Yes!!! This was a recent discovery – I tend to freeze super-ripe bananas for things like smoothies or banana ice cream. But I was in the mood for a banana bread, with only frozen bananas on hand.

Now, slowly thawing ripe bananas makes them oxidise and often turn a rather ugly brown colour. On the other hand, directly using super cold blended frozen bananas in the banana bread batter is also a big no-no, likely to result in an under-baked, soggy mess.

Instead, here’s the best method for thawing frozen bananas for banana bread: place them in a microwave-safe container and drizzle them liberally with lemon juice (no more that about 2 tablespoons of it). Then, just microwave them until soft, stirring every now and them to ensure they’re evenly coated with the lemon juice. Once soft, mash them up and proceed with the recipe. (And no need to add extra lemon juice.)

The reason this works is that the lemon juice prevents/slows down the rate of oxidation and browning, while using the microwave speeds up the thawing process.

A final note: thawed frozen bananas tend to be a bit more liquid-y than raw mashed bananas, so you might need to add an extra tablespoon or so of flour to counteract that.

And that’s it, friends. Everything you need to know in order to make the best gluten free banana bread of your life.

Enjoy.

Signature of the author, Kat.

Marbled banana bread, with a few slices already cut, on a light grey tea towel.

If you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Gluten Free Marbled Banana Bread

This gluten free marbled banana bread is incredibly soft and moist, with a deliciously caramelised crust, and a wonderful flavour of mingling vanilla and chocolate. It’s also very easy to make, and you couldn’t possibly guess it’s gluten free!

Course Dessert
Cuisine Gluten Free
Prep Time 30 minutes
Bake/Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 10

Ingredients

  • 330 g (1 1/2 cups) mashed bananas (3 medium bananas)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 150 g (1 1/3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 75 g (3/8 cup) light brown sugar
  • 75 g (3/8 cup) caster/superfine sugar
  • 2 UK medium/ US large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 225 g (1 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour blend, which doesn't contain xanthan gum. You can also mix your own blend with 50% white rice flour, 30% potato starch and 20% maize flour by weight.)
  • 50 g (1/2 cup) almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (omit if your GF flour blend already contains xanthan)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 75 g (2.6 oz) dark chocolate, 60-70% cocoa solids, melted and cooled
  • 12 g (2 tbsp) Dutch processed cocoa powder

Instructions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 355ºF (180ºC) and line a 2lb/900g loaf baking tin with greaseproof/baking paper. (Dimensions of the loaf tin: 8inch/21cm long, 4inch/11cm wide and 3inch/7cm high.)

  2. Mix the mashed bananas with the lemon juice (to prevent oxidation and browning) and set aside.

  3. In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy. 

  4. Add the mashed bananas, eggs and vanilla paste, and whisk until well combined.

  5. Sift together the plain gluten free flour blend, almond flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, and add them to the wet ingredients. Whisk or stir well until you get a smooth batter with no flour clumps.

  6. Spoon out 1/3 of the batter and mix into it the melted cooled chocolate and Dutch processed cocoa powder, until well combined.

  7. Alternately spoon the two batters into the lined loaf tin until no batter remains (see post above for photos on how to do this). Then, use a skewer or knife to swirl the batter around the tin – make sure you reach all the way to the bottom of the tin.

    Don’t be shy about giving the batter a generous swirl, but also don’t over-swirl it, as it can destroy the effect of having two distinct batters.

  8. Bake in the pre-heated oven at 355 ºF (180 ºC) for about 60 minutes, or until well risen, golden brown on top and an inserted toothpick/skewer comes out clean or with a few stray crumbs attached. 

    If the banana bread starts browning too quickly or too much, cover it with aluminium foil (shiny side up) and continue baking until done. It's best to cover it with aluminium foil when it starts becoming a deep golden colour.

  9. Once baked, allow it to cool in the tin for 5 - 10 minutes, then remove out of the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack. (Although it's rather wonderful still slightly warm.)

  10. Storage: The gluten free marbled banana bread keeps well in a closed container in a cool dry place for 3 - 4 days.

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