recipe for gluten-free vegan banana bread with hibiscus

Hibiscus Banana Bread | Simple, Healthy, & Stuffed with Flowers (vegan & GF)

Some add walnuts. Others throw in some chocolate chips, shredded coconut, or dried fruits. And some even stir in some peanut butter or pureed pumpkin! Personally, I’m a fan of the banana and chocolate combo. But if you’re brave enough to have adventured through the incredible versatility of banana bread in search of the perfect loaf, then you have to try this version. Give this classic sweetbread a lil’ boost of botanicals! This recipe for vegan banana bread studded with tart hibiscus flowers is also gluten-free and sweetened with monk fruit.

SEARCH THIS ARTICLE:
Not Your Ordinary Banana Bread
Health Benefits of Hibiscus
How to Make This Recipe
Tips, Tricks, & FAQs
Recipe for Hibiscus Banana Bread

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sliced loaf of gluten-free vegan banana bread with hibiscus flowers
recipe for gluten-free vegan banana bread with hibiscus

Not Your Ordinary Banana Bread

Do you remember those little boxes of Jiffy Blueberry Muffin mix? Remember opening the box and then cutting or tearing open the little paper bag inside to be greeted by a fine powdery mist of sweet-smelling blueberry muffin mix? I used to love those Jiffy muffins!

The best part? Those delightful lil’ dehydrated blueberries!

And that’s the whole point of this story. The little bits of hibiscus in this recipe for vegan banana bread remind me of biting into those sweet little dried bits of blueberry.

However, it turns out that those little bits of blueberry aren’t actually blueberries at all! There’s not a single blueberry in that entire muffin mix! That, however, is a tragic story of a food system gone wrong for a different day.

You’ll only find real-life, actual food in this recipe. And while banana bread has gone through so many iterations since the 1930’s, this version has become my favorite. The hibiscus flowers add such a unique sweet-tart surprise to an otherwise plain ol’ banana bread. Plus, they add so many health benefits!


The Health Benefits of Hibiscus

Most recognized as a thirst-quenching, ruby-red iced tea or a spiced beverage in some parts of the world like Africa and Jamaica, the health benefits of hibiscus flowers include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and astringent.

Studies have shown potential in treating anemia, high cholesterol, diabetes, and more. The high vitamin C and antioxidant content have also been shown to be beneficial to some of our key detox organs like our liver and kidneys. In fact, hibiscus is one of many great herbs to help support your body’s ability to naturally detox every day.

Plus, hibiscus is a notorious tonic to the heart and the entire cardiovascular system and has been found to help with high blood pressure as well.

And while hibiscus is perhaps best known for its high vitamin C content that gives the flower its tart taste, I think it’s important to note that cooking does degrade much of the vitamin C content. It’s a heat-sensitive vitamin. However, all the other amazing health benefits more than make up for this unfortunate loss. Not to mention, it’s pretty dang delicious.


How to Make This Recipe

This recipe comes together quickly and can be made in a single bowl. (These are my favorite kinds of recipes!) Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need and how to make this recipe for vegan hibiscus banana bread.

If you’re ready to jump to the full detailed recipe, you’ll find it all the way down at the bottom of this post.

Equipment

Ingredients

Method

  1. Preheat the oven and prepare your loaf pan. I like to line my loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper, but you could also lightly grease it with coconut oil or vegan butter and dust it with a small amount of oat or rice flour.
  1. Rehydrate the dried hibiscus flowers. In a cup or ramekin (small bowl), combine the dried hibiscus with a few tablespoons of hot water and either honey or maple syrup. Stir to thoroughly combine, then set aside to rehydrate while you prepare the rest of the loaf.
  1. Mix together the dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients and then create a well in the center to which you’ll add the wet ingredients.
  1. Add the wet ingredients. To the center of the well in the dry ingredients, add all the wet ingredients, including the mashed bananas. Use your whisk to slowly start incorporating the wet ingredients together in the center of the dry ingredients. As the wet ingredients start to come together, slowly begin incorporating more and more of the dry ingredients. Continue mixing just until all ingredients are combined thoroughly.
  1. Stir in the rehydrated hibiscus. Use a spatula to fold in the rehydrated hibiscus, including the liquid. Fold until the flowers are distributed through the batter evenly. The beautiful ruby-red hibiscus mixture will slowly turn the batter a rather off-putting purplish-grey color. Don’t worry! The color will bake right out.
  1. If necessary, add more liquid or flour. You want the batter to be thick, but just pourable. If it’s too runny, add in 1-2 tablespoons of rice flour at a time until it thickens. Alternatively, if the batter is too thick, add more non-dairy milk or water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach a thick but pourable batter.
  1. Transfer batter to your prepared pan. Use your rubber spatula to scoop the batter into the prepared loaf pan, making sure to scrape the bowl down as you do. Leave no batter behind!
  1. Bake for 55-58 minutes. Bake until a toothpick or knife inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. The top of the loaf should be a deep, golden brown color. It should also be cracked and spring back when you gently press down on it with your finger.

    NOTE: This bread may look done well before it actually is. Be sure to bake for the full time.
  1. Let the bread cool completely. I know this is the hard part, but trust me. If you don’t let this bread cool completely before slicing, the texture will likely be pretty gummy. In fact, I recommend making this bread the day before.
  1. Slice and serve! Cut into thick slices, lightly toast, and slap some vegan butter on it. This bread is a little delicate and you’ll notice that you have to be a little mindful and gentle when slicing. A gentle back and forth sawing motion works best.

Tip, Tricks, & FAQs

You’ll need to bake this for longer than you think.

I find this to be the case with many gluten-free cakes and breads. They can be pretty deceiving looks-wise. The top of this bread will turn a nice golden brown well before it’s actually cooked in the middle. Don’t let it fool you. Be sure to continue baking for at least a full 50 minutes. If an inserted knife or toothpick comes out with crumbs, bake in additional 5-minute intervals until it comes out clean.

I recommend making this recipe a day ahead of time.

There’s just something about gluten-free cakes and sweetbreads that makes them so much better the next day. I highly recommend making this bread the day before you’d like to enjoy it. If you just can’t wait, do wait for the bread to cool completely before slicing to make sure the inside cooks entirely. However, I’m certain you’ll find the texture to be superior the next day. For the most enjoyable experience, make this recipe a day ahead or the night before.

How do you store vegan banana bread?

Let the banana bread cool completely before storing it. Once the bread is completely cool, you can wrap the bread in a piece of parchment paper and then wrap the whole package again tightly with plastic wrap. (Whenever possible, it’s always a good idea to avoid your food touching the plastic wrap. The same goes for aluminum foil.)

Or for the most eco-friendly option, skip the plastic wrap, slice the bread, and neatly stack them in an airtight container. I recommend using parchment paper in between layers. Alternatively, if you bake sweetbreads regularly, try this BPA-free loaf keeper.

While this bread would likely be fine stored out at room temperature, because this bread is pretty moist, you may want to store it in the refrigerator (especially if you live in a humid climate). Enjoy it within 5-7 days.

Can you freeze vegan banana bread?

Of course! I recommend slicing the bread for storage. First let the bread cool completely, slice, and then wrap tightly in a layer of wax or parchment paper followed by a layer of plastic wrap. Or just pop it in a freezer-safe, airtight container. Slicing the bread beforehand will make it easier to remove a slice at a time if you don’t want to thaw the entire loaf. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Where can I find dried hibiscus?

You can find dried hibiscus in the ethnic food section at some conventional groceries. Depending on the grocery, if they carry it, it’ll likely be in a plastic bag where you’ll also find the dried chilis, corn husks, mushrooms, and such.

If your conventional grocer doesn’t carry it, try your local ethnic food store. Most Hispanic markets will carry dried hibiscus.

And of course, you can always purchase online. For this recipe, use the cut and sifted dried hibiscus (not the whole flowers). For the highest quality and most ethically grown and harvested, consider purchasing your dried hibiscus from Mountain Rose Herbs. They’ve been my go-to for all my dried herbs for years and their products are consistently higher quality than many other brands. Trust me… I’ve bought a lot of herbs on the internet over the last decade or so!


Try these other botanical baked goods…

Elderflower & Peach Upside-Down Cake
Strawberry Lavender Tart
Elderberry & Thyme Corn Muffins
Strawberry Pop-Tarts with Pistachio & Rose


For more plant magic & herbal wellness in your life, be sure to follow along on ➡️ Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, & snag my herbal 📚 eBooks Nourishing Herbal Gifts & Holiday Pies from the (Un)Bakery. 🌿 And please don’t forget to tag me in your snaps 📸 @_botanyculture_. I love to see all the plant magic you make happen!


Hibiscus Banana Bread (vegan, gluten-free)

Course: Breakfast, Snacks, DessertCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

8

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

55

minutes
Total time

1

hour 

10

minutes

This gluten-free vegan bread is ultra moist and studded with sweet-tart hibiscus flowers. Be sure to cook this bread for the full recommended time and wait for the bread to cool completely before slicing. It’s best to make a day ahead if you can. Serve thick slices warmed or lightly toasted with a generous spread of vegan butter.

Ingredients

  • To rehydrate the dried hibiscus:
  • 1/3 cup dried hibiscus flowers, cut & sifted*

  • 3 tablespoons hot water

  • Dry Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup oat flour**

  • 1/2 cup almond flour (not almond meal)

  • 1/2 cup white rice flour

  • 2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • Wet Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup monk fruit sweetener (I used Lakanto, but you can also substitute coconut sugar or granulated cane sugar.)

  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk

  • 1 cup mashed bananas (~2 large bananas)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  • Preheat the oven and prepare your loaf pan. I like to line my loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper, but you could also lightly grease it with coconut oil or vegan butter and dust it with oat or rice flour.
  • Rehydrate the dried hibiscus flowers. In a cup or ramekin (small bowl), combine the dried hibiscus with a few tablespoons of hot water and either honey or maple syrup. Stir to thoroughly combine, then set aside to rehydrate while you prepare the rest of the loaf.
  • Mix together the dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients and then create a well in the center to which you’ll add the wet ingredients.
  • Add the wet ingredients. To the center of the well in the dry ingredients, add all the wet ingredients, including the mashed bananas. Use your whisk to slowly start incorporating the wet ingredients together in the center of the dry ingredients. As the wet ingredients start to come together, slowly begin incorporating more and more of the dry ingredients. Continue mixing just until all ingredients are combined thoroughly.
  • Stir in the rehydrated hibiscus. Use a spatula to fold in the rehydrated hibiscus, including the liquid. Fold until the flowers are distributed through the batter evenly. The beautiful ruby-red hibiscus mixture will slowly turn the batter a rather off-putting purplish-grey color. Don’t worry! The color will bake right out.
  • If necessary, add more liquid or flour. You want the batter to be thick, but just pourable. If it’s too runny, add in 1-2 tablespoons of rice flour at a time until it thickens. Alternatively, if the batter is too thick, add more non-dairy milk or water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach a thick but pourable batter.
  • Transfer batter to your prepared pan. Use your rubber spatula to scoop the batter into the prepared loaf pan, making sure to scrape the bowl down as you do. Leave no batter behind!
  • Bake for 55-58 minutes. Bake until a toothpick or knife inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. The top of the loaf should be a deep, golden brown color. It should also be cracked and spring back when you gently press down on it with your finger.

    NOTE: This bread may look done well before it actually is. Be sure to bake for the full time.
  • Let the bread cool completely. I know this is the hard part, but trust me. If you don’t let this bread cool completely before slicing, the texture will likely be pretty gummy. In fact, I recommend making this bread the day before.
  • Slice and serve! Cut into thick slices, lightly toast, and slap some vegan butter on it. This bread is a little delicate and you’ll notice that you have to be a little mindful and gentle when slicing. A gentle back and forth sawing motion works best.

    Enjoy within 5-7 days or freeze for up to 3 months. (If you live in a very humid environment, you may want to store this bread in the refrigerator.)

Notes

  • *HIBISCUS FLOWERS: You want to use cut and sifted dried hibiscus flowers for this recipe, not whole hibiscus flowers. If all you have (or can find) is whole flowers, use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to break them up into smaller pieces (~1/4″).
  • **OAT FLOUR: Make sure you use certified gluten-free oat flour if you are allergic. While oats are naturally gluten-free, some are processed in facilities that also process gluten-containing ingredients. Unless your oats (or oat flour) is certified gluten-free, there’s the possibility of cross-contamination with trace amounts of gluten. **MAKE YOUR OWN OAT FLOUR by throwing rolled oats into your blender or food processor and processing to a fine powder. You can then sift through a fine-mesh strainer if you’d like.
  • BAKE FOR THE FULL TIME! The top of this bread will turn a nice golden brown well before it’s actually cooked in the middle. Don’t let it fool you. Be sure to continue baking for at least a full 50 minutes. If an inserted knife or toothpick comes out with crumbs, bake in additional 5-minute intervals until it comes out clean.
  • MAKE AHEAD OF TIME IF YOU CAN: There’s just something about gluten-free cakes and sweetbreads that makes them so much better the next day. I highly recommend making this bread the day before you’d like to enjoy it. If you just can’t wait, do wait for the bread to cool completely before slicing to make sure the inside cooks entirely. However, I’m certain you’ll find the texture to be superior the next day. For the most enjoyable experience, make this recipe a day ahead or the night before.

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Recipe for Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Bread with Hibiscus Flowers

DISCLAIMER: The information given in this article is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before consuming certain herbs & medicinal foods, especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking any prescription medications.

Find Organic Herbs & Spices at Mountain Rose Herbs

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