Heart-y Red Velvet Banana Bread

heart-y red velvet banana bread 1_small
Swoon.

How cute is this banana bread with a pound cake heart right in the middle? You would never guess how ridiculously easy it was to make this it happen.

But first let’s address the flavor combo — red velvet banana bread, you say? Are you smoking crack, Lindsay? Those flavors don’t really belong together.

I hear you. I thought you might say that. But rest assured I think about these flavor combinations in the wee hours of the morning and I knew this could be good. Because the dominant flavor in red velvet cakes is cocoa. Chocolate, people. Chocolate and banana are phenomenal together! And red velvet is just a fancy way of dressing up a cocoa-scented cake (usually with a lot of food coloring).

And while we’re at it, let’s address that food coloring. I hate it, I really do. I avoid it at all costs. But once each year my kids ask for red velvet cake, usually on Valentine’s Day, and once per year I say go for it. I’ve tried all sorts of natural substitutions but, in my opinion, if you’re gonna have a slice of red velvet cake it should be RED. I’ve found that doctoring up a boxed cake mix is the way to go for red velvet because they get the color just right. Remember, once per year. Moderation.

In this case, I doctor up the cake mix to transform it into banana bread and you will never know it started with a box, I promise. This banana bread has a moist, tight crumb and can rival any bakery’s banana bread. So good. And it could not be easier.

To make the cute little heart insets happen, you just cut them out of some frozen pound cake and plop them in the pan in a long line. Easy-peasy.

heart-y red velvet banana bread 2_small

Red Velvet Banana Bread
The reason you only see two measly slices in my pictures is because I seriously underbaked this loaf and it collapsed in the middle. Don’t do that. This bread will look done at 40 minutes but I had to go a full 52 minutes before it was actually done. Do the toothpick test — it works.

1 red velvet cake mix (just the dry mix, not the other ingredients on the box)
3 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
1 frozen pound cake, cut into even 3/4-inch slices
optional: powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 9x5x3 loaf pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the long sides to use as “handles” later. Lightly spray with a non-stick cooking spray.

Combine cake mix, eggs, oil and bananas until batter is smooth.

Using a small heart cookie cutter (1 to 2 inches), cut heart shapes from each slice of frozen pound cake. Cut enough of them so (when stacked) they’ll fit across almost the entire length of the loaf pan.

heart-y red velvet banana bread 3Spread 1/3 of the batter onto the bottom of the loaf pan. Lay a row of the evenly stacked hearts on their side on top of the batter- spanning the length of the pan and leaving about an inch of space on each end. Scoop remaining batter over the top to cover the pound cake hearts and create a smooth surface.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean.
Let cool for 20 minutes before removing from loaf pan. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

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