strawberry rhubarb banana bread

strawberry rhubarb banana bread

To think that this strawberry-banana bread was a result of an injury – might seem a bit far-fetched, but it is absolutely true. An injury that occurred almost one year ago, from which I’m still sporting a bone bruise, and what is probably permanent ankle swelling from the trauma. This clearly is price I pay for an idea that’s going into my regular rotation. I’ll take asymmetric ankles any day, even if that means favoring pants in lieu of dresses to hide the unsightly thing.

How did I get myself into this pickle? This was a classic case of wrong place, wrong time. A woman slammed a door on my foot while I was trying to get a strawberry-banana smoothie. There, now you know the origin. As for those other questions you might have, like “Why would she slam a door on your foot?” or “How hard must one slam a door to inflict what seems to be permanent damages?” – I’ll answer briefly. The woman didn’t do it intentionally, which doesn’t make her actions any less wrong – she was simply not paying attention to me and was yelling at her toddler twins who were strapped into one of those twin strollers. In a fit of exasperation, she slammed the door – and my foot just happened to be there (ouch!). As for the second question – well, she was angry. I yelped in pain, she apologized profusely, but I could barely pay attention to her – my foot immediately turned myriad different colors; there was even a trickle of blood.


A smart, normal person would have taken themselves to the emergency room. I, stupidly, decided that it was just a bad bruise that would heal itself in a few weeks. Hoo-boy, was I wrong!

macerating fruit

For the next few weeks I could barely walk, my foot was bandaged up, there was a lot of swelling. But I was not in despair – I had a recipe idea – and that made it all better (crazy, right?) What if I took a strawberry-banana smoothie and made it into a strawberry banana bread? Better yet, if rhubarb happens to be in season, why not throw that in as well? If strawberries and bananas go together, and if strawberries and rhubarb go together, then won’t strawberries go well with bananas and rhubarb?


There were a few failed batches, namely working out the proper batter to “stuff” proportions. One time, I stupidly baked the bread in a loaf pan too small and the contents spilled out onto the bottom of the oven causing the entire apartment to fill up with smoke. [Thank you, smoke detector, for calmly informing me there was a fire. There wasn’t.] But a few batches later, I finally got it right.


One look at the cross-section of the bread told me something special was going on. Banana bread, normally, is this mousy brown color – nothing terribly exciting to write home about. But studded with bits of strawberries and rhubarb – it’s a beauty. But what really brought it all together were a few spoons of rum that I added on a whim. With is sweet, sugary, floral scent, the rum amplified what strawberries and rhubarb, not to mention bananas, already brought to the table.

first bite

A year later, the bone bruise is still there, the swelling – notable, particularly after I fly. But at least there’s a silver lining. There’s strawberry-rhubarb-banana bread to console me while I ice my ankle.

In my world – that’s a small price to pay.

Strawberry Rhubarb Banana Bread

1 cup rhubarb (about 5 ounces) chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup strawberries (about 5 ounces) finely chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 cups (9 ounces; 254 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 overripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoon dark rum


Position the oven rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan and line it with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together the rhubarb and strawberries with 1/2 cup of sugar. Set aside while you prepare the bread batter.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt, until fluffy and well-combined.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter and the remaining 1 cup of sugar together with an electric mixer on high speed until light and creamy, about 8 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs on at a time, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl between additions. Add bananas, sour cream, vanilla and bourbon, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions.

Add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture in two parts, and, with the mixer on low speed, stir just until just combined. Gently fold in the macerated fruit until evenly distributed.

Scoop the batter out into the baking pan and smooth out the top. Bake around 1 hour and 10 minutes and the top of the bread is a deep golden brown, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. You should feel the top of the bread and it should show some resistance to your touch.

Allow the bread to cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes before running a knife around the perimeter of the bread to disengage it from the loaf pan. For best results, allow to cool overnight (or for the rest of the day) upside down, uncovered. The bottom might get soggy otherwise, and this way you preserve your banana bread’s nice crust.

For best results, store loosely draped with a kitchen towel. Wrapping your banana bread in plastic or foil will result in gummy texture.


  • Deb @ knitstamatic

    So sorry to hear about your ankle, that really stinks. But as you said, on the bright side is your strawberry rhubarb banana bread; it looks amazing! I’ll have to try it!

  • chihiro

    Sorry about your foot, I feel at least a little vindicated from shying away from New York parents wielding strollers in public places. I love banana bread with too much whiskey, but will try this when I restock on rhubarb. In case you haven’t noted yet, your recipe lists sugar twice!

  • Delishhh

    Oh my sorry about your foot, that sounds awful. But this bread sounds amazing. I am a huge rhubarb lover – have tons in my fridge and looking around for a great recipe – and then i see this. Guess what i am making :) I am with you “If strawberries and bananas go together, and if strawberries and rhubarb go together, then won’t strawberries go well with bananas and rhubarb?” Brilliant!

  • Misty

    I think seeing a banana bread recipe as a silver lining to such a trauma definitely puts you in the crazy foodie category! :)

    This definitely seems like a special banana bread though, and kudos to you for your optimism. I hope the foot gets better in time. I’ve actually never had rhubarb, and this iteration sounds like a tasty introduction to me!

  • Nancy

    Sorry to hear about the ankle trauma! Those double-wide strollers are really dangerous (or, I guess the people pushing them are…). I live on the upper west side so I’m constantly dodging them. But, at least you ended up with a terrific baked good in return; strawberry-banana-rhubarb sounds like an awesome triple threat.

  • jordan

    rhubarb has always scared me but this gives me the courage to try it out. mixed with all that other goodness it can’t be too bad, right?! right! yea, i just answered my own question….

  • Jennie

    Funny how we’re always on the same wavelength. I decided to play around with rhubarb in a brown butter banana bread recently. Something was missing, so I shelved the idea for another day. I think you solved my quandry.

  • Maria @ Scandifoodie

    Ouch, the injury sounds painful – I’m sorry to hear that!

    You got me craving bananas… Here in Sydney the banana prices have gone, well, bananas since the last cyclone destroyed most of the crops. Now we are all waiting for the prices to get back to normal and then I can make this delicious bread!

  • Carly

    This looks and sounds so delicious! I’m really digging rhubarb this year and am stockpiling recipes. I’ll definitely save this one!

  • Ruth

    I love the sound of the rum in this. Your ankle, though? Good grief what a horrible thing to have got caught up in!

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    I too tend to just ignore injuries when they occur… so sorry to hear about your foot. I cringed when I read what happened. Been there before and it sure is painful!

    Now, as for this incredible looking banana bread. I’m a huge fan of all of these ingredients, so I have no doubt that I would love this recipe. Can’t wait to give it a try!

  • Anita

    I’m definitely trying this after next week’s farmer’s market. However, the directions say: “In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt, until fluffy and well-combined.”

    How do you get these dry ingredients “fluffy”??

  • Radish

    Anita – by whisking, you’re actually fluffing up the flour (along with other dry ingredients). By sitting in a container, the flour settles and becomes more compact. This is why you’re often advised to sift ingredients (to break up lumps, to decrease the density). Does that make sense?

  • Judy

    One more question–is there a total of 1 1/2 c sugar or 2 1/2 c sugar? As soon as my bananas ripen I’m making this.

  • cory : eat and {relish}

    i am all about the strawberry rhubarb thing right now and this looks divine BUT…..what to do about a fiance that hates bananas with the fury of 1000 bruised up ankles? do you think i could substitute in another fruit?

    hope thats not a silly question!

  • Radish

    Cory – you could try doing a pumpkin or zucchini bread, but the flavors might not work well – I don’t know if substitution here is a good idea :( sorry!

  • LauraJayne

    I love rhubarb, pretty much in anything, but this bread looks totally delicious! I’m sorry about your foot – but can’t wait to try this bread!

  • jan

    I am making this recipe as I write this. My question is, why should I butter the pan and use parchment paper? Can’t it be one or the other?

  • Radish

    jan – you need to butter and then line – it makes removing the cake that much easier. hope this helps :)

  • Melissa

    This looks amazing! Are there any substitutions for the rum? Can it be omitted? Thank you so much!

  • Radish

    Melissa – in this case, I would insist on rum. Or just vanilla extract. But another liquor will not go as well. It’s a flavor enhancer – the alcohol cooks off completely.

  • Jackie


    I do not like rhubarb, is there another fruit I can use in it’s place or can I leave it out all together.

  • Radish

    Jackie – you might want to just leave it out all together. Just leave the strawberry amt the same.

  • Radish

    Jennifer – I haven’t, but in thinking about it, I’m not sure it’s such a good idea. Both rhubarb and strawberries are fairly moisture-rich, so you might wind up with a “wet” cake when you defrost. You can take a small piece and try and see how it works?

  • Christine

    Holy cow! This is sooo good! I am eating my first slice and only hope I can stop at just one! Thanks for great recipe!

  • Elaina

    I had some overripe bananas and some leftover strawberries and rhubarb from a pie I made so this recipe was EXACTLY what I was looking for! The bread turned out absolutely amazing! I followed the recipe to a T except for one thing: After I sugared the rhubarb and strawberries, my 15 month old baby urgently needed my attention so the fruit sat out on the counter in the sugar for about an hour. When I came back to finish, there was about a 1\2 an inch of water in the bowl from all the juices so I strained them and went about the rest if the recipe. It turned out so perfect- no soggyness! No need to even let it rest upside down at all! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe! I’m sharing it with everyone I know.

  • Shondel

    I have made this twice now. Incredible. I am not sure I can go back to regular banana bread! I have made it exactly – except the bourbon – and added all of the yummy juice from the macerated fruit. The texture has always been perfect! Thank you again!

  • Don

    I made this yesterday, what a fabulous recipe. Oh it’s so good. Did not have to wait long, it was not mushy. I love rhubarb so added an additional 1/2 cup. This is now a favorite recipe of mine. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sandra K.

    This bread is soo… delicious! We couldn’t stop eating it after it came out of the oven. I made 1 loaf and 4 small loaves. It wasn’t even cooled yet and my husband ate almost a whole small loaf by himself! I didn’t have quite enough sour cream so I used some homemade plain yogurt (that I make) to make my l/4 cup. I also doubled the rhubarb and strawberries but probably shouldn’t have because the fruit caused it to be more wet. Next time I will cut back on that. It was still absolutely delish!!

  • Sandra K.

    I just left the above comment and forgot to include any adjustments that I made. I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour to make it healthier for us. I also used 1/2 the sugar that it called for. I like to bake with organic sugar. I didn’t have any dark rum so I used Bacardi light rum instead. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe!!

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