Let’s not beat around the bush. Traditional banana bread can be a little boring. It can be a little too dense, a little too banana-y, a little too blah in general. But when you throw a bunch of words like “apple cinnamon swirl” and, of course, “gluten free” in front of it, you know you’ll be eating something that’s anything but boring. Look at the picture above this and tell me you don’t want to bite into something with a center like that.
When I first thought of making this quick bread, I thought I would chop up some apples and throw bits and pieces into the batter…but then I remembered that I am lazy and why would I use a knife when I don’t have to? I still wanted the apple flavor, though, so I turned to my trusty kitchen sidekick, applesauce. Mott’s all natural, unsweetened applesauce, to be specific. Applesauce is such a workhorse in the kitchen. I love using it in recipes instead of oil or butter, like in these skinny chocolate muffins, where it doesn’t impart any apple-y flavor. If you use enough of it, though, like in this bread, you can definitely taste the apple. The apple gives a light and refreshing taste, two words that you definitely don’t associate with most banana breads.
Coupled with the mashed up, super ripe bananas, the applesauce keeps this bread insanely moist and soft. There’s no butter in the bread (it’s actually dairy free) and hardly any oil.
But back to the health thing. If you wanted to make this bread without the cinnamon sugar and the glaze, you definitely can. Then you’d be looking at only ¾ of a cup of brown sugar and ¼ cup of oil. The rest of the sweetness and moisture comes entirely from the applesauce and bananas. I’ll leave your health choices up to you, but I will say that the bread is damn good as is.
I loved eating it warm out of the oven just as much as I loved eating it cold two days later. That’s the thing about banana bread of any kind, it pretty much keeps getting better.
Gluten free, dairy free, boring free, and (potentially) guilt free. What more could you ask for in a banana bread?
Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread
Prep: 10 min Bake: 40 min Makes: 9×5 loaf
2 cups all purpose gluten free flour (I used Cup4Cup.)
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup oil
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 extremely ripe bananas, mashed (I put the bananas in a ziploc bag and mush them up in there.)
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Any kind of milk will work.)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×5 bread pan with nonstick spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the GF flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon until well combined.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat light brown sugar and oil until well blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat to combine.
4. Add in applesauce, mashed bananas, and vanilla and beat on medium-high until totally combined. There will be a few lumps depending on how mashed the bananas are, and that’s okay.
5. Slowly add GF flour mixture to the mixer and beat well to combine. Batter will be thick.
6. In a small bowl, combine ingredients for swirl (cinnamon and sugar.)
7. Pour half of batter into bread pan. Top with all of the cinnamon sugar mix. Pour other half of batter on top and smooth with spatula.
8. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
9. Cool bread in pan for 15 minutes, then put the pan on a wire rack and let finish cooling.
10. Make glaze while bread is cooling by stirring milk of choice into the powdered sugar.
11. When bread is cooled, remove from pan and place on the rack. Pour the glaze over the top. Serve bread warm or cool.