Banana Bread

Pin It DLD: Banana Bread

When I was growing up, banana bread was one of those things that I could only ever remember my dad making. When the bananas would start looking so disgusting (to a young child) that they were ready to be thrown away, it was time for Dad to make banana bread. His recipe came from the Betty Crocker cookbook—you know, the one with the red cover—and it was the only recipe for banana bread that was ever made in our house.

The recipe yields 2 loaves, but in a family with 8 bread lovers, those loaves didn't stick around very long. It wasn't quite as bad as "if you blink you missed it," but it was close. Nowadays, with my family it lasts longer, but only because my little boys can't eat it. I still have to exercise restraint to not eat the entire loaf one sitting.....for real.

Anyways, like I said, my dad's recipe was the only one we ever made, so after I got married and my wife made banana bread I had a rather startling suprise—her banana bread had little brownish-black flecks in it. The flavor wasn't that different from what I remembered, but my dad's bread never had those little flecks. Then, when I worked at Lofthouse, my coworker worked on a project to make banana bread and his recipe yielded a speckled loaf as well. I was coming to the realization that Dad's recipe was the exception, and not the norm. Talk about a shock to my reality.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago. I was thinking about this very conundrum (yes I think about random baking issues in my spare time), and I had an epiphany—BAKING SODA. Samantha's recipe used baking soda and, as I came to find out after I begged my mom to take a picture and send it to me, my dad's recipe used baking powder. This simple substitution made the difference between the monochromatic bread of my childhood and the freckled loaf from my wife. As I thought about it, it makes total sense.

Baking powder contains a balanced reaction of acidic and alkaline ingredients, which means that it doesn't really affect the final acid/base balance of the dough that much. Baking soda, on the other hand, is pure alkaline. When you add baking soda to a dough you are raising the pH (i.e. making the batter more basic), and that affects the pigment of the bananas enough to allow it to brown during baking.

Too technical? Well let's get started with the tutorial—it will make sense when you see the finished product.


Skip the tutorial and go straight to the recipe.

Show Notes Hide Notes

Step 0:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8" bread pans with cooking spray.

Step 1:

Mash 3-4 overripe medium bananas with a fork or whisk or spoon or your fists, whichever you desire. The goal is to get 1 1/2 cups of banana mush. Set this aside for a couple of steps.
One interesting thing about bananas is that the banana plant is—technically speaking—an herb. Bananas are very starchy while green, but as they sit, they produce ethylene gas, which will ripen the flesh and darken the skins. As the flesh ripens the starch is converted to sugar.
If you have some bananas sitting around and you don't want them to ripen, or don't want them to ripen any further, simply put them in the refrigerator. The skin WILL turn dark brown (read: black) but the flesh will not ripen any further and will be safe to eat.

Step 2:

Combine 1 cup brown sugar with 1/4 cup vegetable oil.

Mash the two together until it resembles wet sand. The goal is to "wet" all of the sugar to avoid sugar lumps in the next steps.

Step 3:

Dump the mashed bananas on top of the oily sugar and mix everything together.

Step 4:

Mix together 1 egg, 1 tsp vanila, and 1/2 cup milk.
By the way, baking becomes a lot harder when your children are tall enough to see what is on the counter.

To demonstrate the effect of baking soda on the finished bread, I split the batter in half, but the same steps will apply to each half.

Step 5:

Whisk together the dry ingredients: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, and 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
(or 1 Tbsp baking powder and 1 tsp baking soda).

Step 6:

Add 1/2 of the blended dry ingredients, followed by the wet ingredients, and finally the rest of the dry ingredients.

If desired, fold in 1 cup chopped walnuts.
I am borrowing this mixing method from a traditional creamed cake method. From what I understand, adding the dry and wet ingredients in stages allows for less overall mixing and creates a smoother, more tender cake. And, as well as know, banana bread is really, what it comes down to it, banana cake. Treating it like cake instead of like bread will result in a better finished product.

Step 7:

Pour the batter evenly between the prepared bread pans.
OPTIONAL: Spray a spatula or bench scraper with cooking spray and plunge in into the middle of the batter. This will ensure a clean split down the middle of the loaf.
I don't really know why this works, but it is a trick I learned from my boss back at Lofthouse Cookies. She had previously formulated loaf cakes, and this was something they did where she worked. From what I can see, it doesn't affect the interior of the bread, but it greatly improves the surface appearance.

Step 8:

Slide the pans in the oven and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the loaf.
Remove the loaves from the pans and move to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and devouring with lots of butter. yummmmmmmm. *wipes drool off of the keyboard*
In a few recipes now I have written to let the loaf cool completely before slicing into it. There actually is some science behind this, it's not just me being mean. When breads bake, the crust acts to (somewhat) seal the surface of the loaf. If you cut into the loaf while it is still hot, you release a lot of steam. Steam is water, meaning that you have lost some water to the atmosphere which means you will have a drier loaf. The concept is similar to allowing a turkey or roast to rest after it comes out of the oven and before you carve it.

Here you can see the difference between the loaf with baking soda and the loaf with only baking powder. You can see that there is a slight yellowing to the crumb, and that the banana fibers are darker. This is a result of the change in pH I was talking about earlier.
There is also a very slight change in flavor if you are looking for it. Mostly I just like how it looks.

Banana BreadYields: 2 8"-loaf

Wet Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
Wet Ingredients Dry Ingredients

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8" loaf pans.
  2. Mash the bananas, leaving chunks if desired.
  3. Combine the brown sugar and oil, mashing to remove all sugar lumps.
  4. Whisk together the egg, vanilla, and milk.
  5. Blend together the dry ingredients.
  6. Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the banana mixture, followed by the wet ingredients, and finally the remaining dry ingredients.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  8. Spray a bench scraper or spatula with cooking spray and plunge it into the center of the batter then entire length of the pan, recoating with oil as necessary.
  9. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothepick/skewer comes out clean.
    Allow to cool briefly in the pan before depanning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

This recipe was printed from Dinner in the Life of a Dad (
Banana Bread 2 8" Loaves A sweet banana bread recipe with tons of banana flavor and optional nuts. Easy and foolproof 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe Banana, 3-4 medium 1 cup Brown Sugar 1 Egg 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil 1/2 cup Milk 1 tsp Vanilla Extract 2 1/2 cups Flour 1 Tbsp Baking Powder 1 tsp Baking Soda 1 tsp Salt 1 cup chopped Walnuts, optional

1 comment :

  1. Sam, we never put banana bread on a wire rack to cool, nor did we wait until it was cool to eat it. You say that letting the bread cool before cutting keeps the bread from drying out, but banana bread rarely lasted long enough for that to be an issue. Typically one loaf would be gone (eaten) before it had a chance to cool.