Tip: ask your grocery store’s produce manager for over-ripe bananas when shopping. They usually have some in the back they’ve pulled off the shelves and may give them to you at a discount or even at no cost. Plus, look at you go, you’re saving perfectly good food from being wasted, and turning into something delicious and totally gift-worthy. Win!
For the bread:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
12 bananas – as overripe as possible
2 1/2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 Tbsp. cinnamon (yep, a whole tablespoon – spice that puppy up)
1/2 tsp. ground clove
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
For the cream-cheese swirl:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. tapioca starch
zest of 1 lemon (optional, adds a nice contrasting element and plays up the tang of the cream cheese)
Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13 inch glass baking dish, 12 mini loaf pans, or 4 regular loaf pans*, and set them aside. Melt the butter over medium low heat, then remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit.
In a medium mixing bowl, mash the bananas until you reach quarter-sized chunks (I love leaving chunks of banana in the bread, but it you prefer a smooth batter, use a mixer to mush up your ‘nanas). Add the sugars, vanilla, and the butter and mix well. Whisk the eggs lightly in a separate bowl and then fold into the banana mixture.
In a separate, very large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: rice flour, tapioca starch, salt, baking soda, xanthan gum, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and whisk them together until the spices look evenly distributed. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing well as you go.
To make the cream cheese filling, combine the sugar and tapioca starch and mix well. Add the sugar mixture to the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until smooth. Add the eggs and lemon zest, if using, and mix until just combined.
Pour enough banana bread batter to fill whatever baking dish you’re using about 1/4 to 1/3 up the sides and smooth the top with a spoon. Cover the bread batter with a nice layer of the cream cheese batter, smoothing as you go, and finish with another layer of the banana bread batter, leaving at least an inch of unused space at the top of your baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes to 1 hour 15 mins, depending on the baking dish you’re using or until the top is nicely browned, the center of the loaf springs back when lightly pressed, or a knife inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Allow to fully cool before wrapping and storing for gift-giving. A well-wrapped loaf can last in the freezer for at least a month.*The cream cheese filling stretches the bread batter, so you may end up with more than can fit in the above mentioned dishes, if that happens, just use any combination of sizes to make your loaves.