Sugar-free banana and honey buns

Or what happens when my unstoppable urge to make bread meets with overripe bananas

Leaving every possible banana- and bun-related innuendo aside (believe me, its hard, but I’m trying!) I have to tell you that I the only thing that prompted these Banana Buns were three severely over-ripe bananas. If it weren’t for them, there would have been just buns.


Am I the only person on the planet who can never seem to estimate exactly how many bananas to buy? No matter what number I choose, how many I consume it seems that on day 4 or 5, there is always that odd number left in the fruit bowl, turning a vile shade of grey. The sight invokes extreme pity. Because fruit ought to be consumed. One way or another.

Since my love for yeast has resurfaced, the itch to make bread has come back with a vengeance, and bun-making has been on my mind for a while. Mid-REM last night, I saw myself making buns and adding a mixture of mashed bananas, milk and honey to the dough. It was so utterly clear when I woke up that I did the only logical thing there is to do. I went with it.

The result is a cross between a sweet milk bun and a pao. To taste, it has the mild sweetness and comfort of a milk bun, and in texture it is like a spongy, wholesome pao. And because I made them in a pan, they stuck together in rows, giving me that rustic feeling of pulling them apart.DSC_0415

Apart from being infused with banana pulp, these buns are virtually sugar-free and sweetened very slightly by honey, and made only a little rich by a bit of ghee. Its the perfect kind of bun to toast slightly and dunk into chai.DSC_0416Maska-banana-pao, anyone?

What I used
3 over ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons fresh ghee (I used homemade ghee)
1/4 cup water, warm to touch
2 teaspoons active yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar (only to activate the yeast)
2 cups flour (I used 1.5 whole wheat and 0.5 maida)
Additional water (good to have on hand, but to be used only if needed)

How I made them

First things first, I got the yeast activated. I warmed the water in a cup and mixed in the sugar and yeast and set it aside. It usually takes about 5-7 minutes to get frothy. In the meantime I mashed up the bananas.DSC_0393Added the milk, ghee and honey to it, and whisked well till it was relatively smooth.DSC_0395In a wider mixing bowl, I measured out the flour, and tipped in the banana mixture, followed by the frothy yeasty water.DSC_0399With my hands, I then mixed it well till it came together in a wet dough. It was far stickier than I imagined, thanks to the addition of banana pulp, milk and water. I had to dust my hands and the counter a few times to work it into a ball.

Feel free to add some flour, in small quantities, to make it easier to handle. And with some patient kneading, it does eventually come together. I rolled it into a ball and placed it in a well oiled bowl.DSC_0400I set it aside to rise for 50 minutes, at the end of which it had more than doubled.DSC_0402I patted it down gently, knocked it out of the bowl and kneaded it for a couple of minutes gently on a floured counter. Then I pulled apart golf ball-sized knobs of dough and placed them (leaving an inch on either side) in an oiled 9″ square pan.

You’ll see how as they progress they get less neater, because the more I handled the dough, the stickier it got. The trick is to be quick and handle the dough as little as possible.DSC_0405I covered the pan in a wet tea towel and set it aside for 20 minutes, while I preheated my oven at 180 degrees C.DSC_0407In 20 minutes the buns had risen further. I stuck them in the oven and baked then for 25 minutes till the tops were firm and sounded hollow when tapped.DSC_0409Once I took them out, cooling them completely is essential. I’ve learned that bread is moist when it is just out of the oven and as it cools, it loses this moisture and fluffs up ever so slightly.DSC_0421

The longer you allow it to cool, the fluffier your bread/buns will be. I am impatient most of the time, and I couldn’t resist breaking off a piece to enjoy with my evening chai.DSC_0418

Some notes:
– These buns are very mildly sweet, but if you’d like them sweeter, adjust the honey/sugar as you like
– If you want to eliminate the bananas, to make a sweet milk bun, adjust the honey/sugar accordingly as the bananas lend a fair bit of fruity sweetness. Also adjust the quantity of milk, adding in more as you go because the banana also lends moisture in binding the dough together
– The next time, I plan to eliminate the water altogether, increase the milk and and activate the yeast in warm milk itself
– The buns were done in about 25 minutes, but depending on how big/small you make yours, and how your oven works you might have to keep an eye out for them post the 20 minute mark

Somewhere in between the excitement, wolfing down the bun, I caught myself humming this track. And predictably, it is now stuck like a earworm I cannot get rid of.


12 thoughts on “Sugar-free banana and honey buns

  1. For once, a bread recipe that doesn’t overwhelm me. As it is, I am compulsive write-down-the-recipe-on-paper and bake person and when I made bread last week, it got so complicated, with a 100 notes and footnotes. This one, makes it sound so simple. Maybe I will give bread and yeast one more try. I will get some Kerala bananas (nendram pazham) and try adding them.

    • You know what, I think with enough trial and error you come up with your own fix of the atta-water-oil-yeast proportion, and once you do there is no more confusion. I think I have hit upon my combo. So even if I experiment (like I did here with the addition of banana pulp) I know what to vary and change so as to maintain the same proportion. It just takes a few experiments, in smaller quantities.

      In fact when I look at the first loaf I posted here, I feel like taking the recipe down because it is SO SUPER complicated, I have never made that same loaf again. But then I leave it there for senti sake, because it was afterall my first loaf :)

      And nendram pazham will work fabulously, just add the milk/water with caution because depending on how sticky the banana is, you might need to vary it.

    • You totally should, but the measurements are a bit tricky with anything yeasted. At least I think so, but you have to make a yeasty beginning somewhere!

      Two people I know have already made this yesterday and both loved it and sent me pictures :D

      • I haven’t tried yeasty cooking yet, this’ll be a first. But after today’s predicament, I absolutely need to make this cos it’s clearly not getting out of my head! :P

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