Cozy Sunflower Seed Banana Bread

December 06, 2017

Hi! We're getting right into the holiday swing of things now and I've been working my butt off to get all my jewellery gifts made in time to send to Canada (fingers crossed). After that I'll be making the gifts for family and friends over here, and then it'll be time to make some food gifts. I'm thinking truffles for sure, cookies, and bread. I love giving this easy dark rye and there are several holiday cookie recipes on the blog, plus more coming soon. I'll be sharing a few recipes for gifting in the next couple of weeks, and let me know in the comments if there's something you'd love to see!

This is a recipe for the chillier days arriving with winter, something to bake on a rainy day. It'll heat your home as it bakes and give it a cozy scent of cinnamon and nutmeg. I make this type of whole grain, higher protein banana bread about once a week during autumn and winter and leave a loaf on the counter for quick breakfasts or snacks. Top it with extra nut or seed butter to make it even more filling, and add a little honey or maple syrup if you like a touch more sweetness.

The banana bread can easily be adapted to suit your tastes. Try using a mix of chopped nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews) instead of the seeds, sub sesame or hemp for the seeds that are used, or switch out the tahini for another nut/seed spread, or mix in a little dark chocolate to the batter. You can also use a different dried fruit instead of dates, like blueberries or cherries. That being said, I really love the combination of the seeds, dates, and slightly bitter olive oil and tahini. It's a bit of an adult, luxury banana bread and perfectly suitable to eat throughout the day. The loaf itself isn't very sweet but the dates add little bites of sweetness - don't leave them out. You could use other dried fruit like raisins or cranberries if you prefer. Topping with the sunflower seeds adds visual interest and a nice flavour and texture.

Don't be turned off by the long ingredient list, it's mostly seeds and spices. You can use the seeds you have in your pantry, but the ingredients in this recipe are easy to find. Make sure to wait until your bananas are turning brown and spotty before using them as you need the natural sweetness from the overripe fruit. This loaf is quite sturdy and it makes a nice food gift during the holidays. I've gifted this to several people here in Germany and they always go nuts for it, because banana bread is a bit of a rarity over here. We like to have it around for snacking and it's a nice healthier option if you're craving something sweet.

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Cozy Sunflower Seed Banana Bread
Makes one loaf

2 cups / 230 grams whole spelt flour
1/2 cup / 80 grams raw sunflower seeds, plus extra for topping
1/4 cup / 40 grams pepitas
1/4 cup / 50 grams chia seeds
1/4 cup / 60 grams semi-dried dates, chopped
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground nutmeg*
3 medium / 400 grams overripe bananas, mashed
1/2  cup / 125 ml non-dairy milk (oat or nut)
1/4 cup / 60 ml olive oil
1/4 cup / 60 ml maple syrup or honey
3 tablespoons tahini

Preheat your oven to 350F / 180C and grease* a standard loaf tin (I use coconut oil). 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, seeds, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the chopped dates and stir to coat them in the flour mixture. Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients.

In a shallow bowl, mash the bananas. Add the milk, olive oil, maple syrup, and tahini. Use a fork to gently mix the wet ingredients together until incorporated.

Add the banana mixture to the large bowl and use a wooden spoon to stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and gently tap the tin on the counter to settle it. Leave the centre higher than the edges. Top the batter with another handful of sunflower seeds.

Place in on the middle rack in your oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the loaf is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If your oven runs a little hot then make sure to check the bread at about the 40 minute mark.

Remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin on a cooling rack for ten minutes, then gently remove it and let it cool completely before storing. Eat at least one slice warm if you can. It keeps for 3-5 days on the counter, wrapped well, and may be frozen.

1. Use 1/2 teaspoon of pre-ground nutmeg if you don't have whole.
2. It tastes better with a greased pan (extra fat, maybe?) but you can also line it if you prefer.

*EDIT* 20/12/2017: Several readers have emailed me saying that they've made this recipe successful with buckwheat flour in place of spelt. Please note that if you would like to make it gluten-free, buckwheat flour is an excellent substitution. 

15 comments on "Cozy Sunflower Seed Banana Bread"
  1. Looks great! I make a similar recipe and it's always a success, I love mixing nuts and seeds too. I mean, why not? It's so thoughtful of you to make your gifts, edible or not. I bet your friends and family appreciate it that much more!

  2. I love the sound of this - something that can be eaten at any time of day. Seeds always make me feel so healthy!

  3. I love loaves with lots of seeds and fruit like this! This would be great to have on a regular basis as you do. I'm sure the recipients will be most appreciative!

  4. Wow this bread is perfection, that crust!! I love, love the smell of banana bread baking, I find it so comforting.

  5. Great recipe! I'm making it now. Does 400g mashed bananas mean 400g bananas with peel, and then mash, or after peeling, measure 400g bananas? Thanks!

    1. Thanks Heather! It's the banana with peel, like how you'd weigh them at the market.

  6. Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it over the weekend and it came out perfectly. Since spelt flour is not available in taiwan, i used whole wheat and replaced part of it with rolled oats. I threw in sesame, flax and hemps seeds, and subbed coffee for the non-dairy milk, and sunflower seed butter instead of tahini. It is so good, and sweet enough just with the bananas and the honey. Makes a wonderful treat, spread with black sesame butter or coconut oil. Thank you!

    1. I love that you're doing practical substitutions! That addition of coffee sounds awesome, and I'm so happy you like the bread. Thanks, Chien-Hui!

  7. Well....Yours look stunning. I just put mine in the oven, but something just doesn't seem right. You say "pour" the batter? My batter wouldn't pour if I turned the bowl completely upside down:0! Very think? Check and follow the recipe exactly with the exception of flour. I used a combination of buckwheat, coconut, almond and oat.

    1. Changing the flour makes a big difference, I'm afraid! Coconut flour is particularly absorbent so it sounds like it sucked up too much of the moisture. I know readers have had good results subbing buckwheat flour.

  8. I figured as much. Didn't have any spelt on hand. Will definitely try this again. Made the spicy carrots/lentil/tahini as well. Had much greater success with that and it was a hit with my company! Happy to have found your blog!

  9. I wonder if I can substitute the bananas for apple sauce(unsweetened). My hubby and my son are allergic to bananas. Thank you!

    1. I haven't tried making this without banana as it's a banana bread, so I can't give you solid advice, but you could try with a smaller amount of applesauce as it tends to be more liquid and see how it goes. I think the chia will still hold everything together but if you use too much I think it'll go soggy - maybe a cup of applesauce.