Find a better banana bread recipe, I dare you.

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Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

I’m particular about one aspect of my banana bread: It must include cream cheese in the ingredient list. I’ve found through testing and tasting countless banana bread recipes over the years that my favorites of the bunch always call for a block of cream cheese. Whether they demand cinnamon, brown sugar, peanut butter, chocolate chips (gasp!) or any combination of the aforementioned is inconsequential as far as I’m concerned. What I’m really after is that one little mention of a gray paper-wrapped block that gives everything from casseroles to quick breads that creamy, dreamy texture that’s always on my list of culinary must-haves.

Now you want to know something that’s really worth getting excited about? Let's talk about a banana bread recipe that uses my favorite refrigerator staple in a way that ups the fluffiness factor, delivering a quick bread that is light, airy, and somehow still remains utterly decadent. Our Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread is going to have a batter that’s lighter in color than you might be used to, but you just need to go with it. It’s not lacking when it comes to banana flavor, moisture, or crave-ability, especially when you add one of our delicious riffs on top.

To be clear, I’ve only ever made Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread without the add-ins—I’m of the why-mess-with-a-good-thing variety—but, reading through the ingredients on the recipe’s flavorful toppers has me scoping out my countertop bananas for ripeness because it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be able to hold out for much longer. Peanut Butter Streusel-Topped Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread and Cinnamon Crisp-Topped Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread might be just the crowd pleasers our family breakfast needs this Saturday morning. As for the Orange-Pecan-Topped Cream-Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread, come the first sign of a crisp autumn morning I’ll be popping that little loaf pan of love in the oven faster than you can say, “It’s fall, y’all.”

WATCH: Dollywood Cinnamon Bread

No matter how you top your banana bread, having a recipe always at the ready is a surefire sign of a good Southern home cook. File it between your family fried chicken recipe and the world’s flakiest buttermilk biscuits (we’ve got you covered on that one).