Just recently I was asked for my recipe for banana quick bread, a favorite of mine because it’s so easy and simple to bake. I felt rather sheepish because I had nothing written down to share. Truth be told, I don’t follow a recipe when making banana bread, and usually just throw the ingredients together. I had to retrace my steps and recall what I did, and so now I find myself writing an unplanned post on banana bread. Which is just as well since it temporarily distracts me from my fixation on cakes.
This time I wrote down the proportions and, while I was at it, made a few more loaves of banana bread, tweaking one part or the other to see how it would make a difference. To start with I played around a bit with the fat content, to see if I could get away with as little of it as possible, using 4 tablespoons of canola oil. I found it made for a really moist loaf. Then I replaced the canola oil with 4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter. Flavor-wise it was great and more delicious than using just canola oil, but not as moist. So I added a tablespoon of canola oil to the 4 tablespoons of melted butter and I think that combination worked out well.
Then I thought I would use applesauce to replace what little fat there was in the recipe. On the left is the loaf of banana bread baked with 4 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 tablespoon of canola oil. On the right is the loaf baked with ¼ cup of applesauce. In terms of appearance, the loaf made with butter and oil is shinier while the one made with applesauce is matte. As far as flavor, I found them both good, but preferred the butter oil combination. The color of the interior of the loaf made with applesauce was also darker, while the loaf made with butter and oil was lighter, and you could see the freckling that’s typical in banana bread.
Having found the proportions that worked for me I then started to tinker with the temperature. I baked the first loaves in a slow oven at 325°F and added 10 – 15 minutes to the baking time. The 9”x5” aluminum pan I used was on the shallow side, slightly less than 3” in depth with straight edges. The problem with the lower temperature was that it produced only tiny tears on top of the banana bread, and I wanted a big, generous split down the middle. Maybe I should just stick with 350°F.
So I proceeded to make yet another loaf of banana bread, since I also wanted to try out another loaf pan. This pan has sloped edges and is deeper than the earlier one I used. It’s also non-stick but not as dark than most non-stick pans, but I still lightly sprayed it anyway with non-stick baking spray. I was also intrigued by the ridges on the sides and bottom of the pan, so I thought I would give it a go. This time I baked it at a regular temperature of 350°F.
Wowza! The surface of the banana bread cracked and looks like a leaf! I think this loaf has character so it’s by far my favorite. In fact, I liked it so much I made yet another loaf with the same pan to see if I would be just as lucky.
Not as interesting looking as the earlier loaf of banana bread, but it’s still kind of cute. I baked it using the same recipe and pan with the sloped edges. The only difference was that with about 10 minutes left in the oven I brushed the top with an egg wash, made of 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk. I’m not sure the egg wash was worth the effort because banana bread will naturally take on a nice rich color when it’s baked.
The key is to use really ripe bananas; ripe as in the peels are so blemished and unappealing, you wouldn’t want to eat them anymore. The natural sugar content is high in ripe bananas, so that I was able to get by with ¾ cup of granulated sugar.
Here’s how I mix my banana bread. It’s so simple I just mix it by hand.
- Mash the bananas and assemble all the ingredients together.
- Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon.
- Beat the eggs together with the canola oil and melted butter.
- Add the lemon juice and sugar to the mashed bananas.
- Pour the egg mixture into the banana mixture and mix well.
- Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture.
- Add the skim milk.
- Stir until blended using a rubber spatula.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix just until incorporated.
- Pour the batter into a baking pan sprayed with non-stick baking spray.
- Bake for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let the banana bread rest in the pan for about 15 minutes before turning out of the pan.
Banana bread would also make a great breakfast treat. If made the night before, it will be even more moist the following morning. Just make sure the loaf is completely cool before storing it in a covered container. Something else I also like making for breakfast are these scones from an earlier post.
My conclusion: I’m going to stick with baking my favorite banana bread with the melted butter and oil combination and the temperature set at 350°F. Maybe I’ll get lucky again the next time and get that tear down the center that looks like a leaf.
- 1 ¾ cups flour (241 g)
- 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon canola oil or any light oil
- 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 2 ½ large bananas, 305 g)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (152 g)
- ¼ cup skim milk (57 g)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9” x 5” baking dish or loaf pan with non-stick baking spray.
- Combine and stir together flour, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon.
- In a small bowl, beat eggs with a fork, then add canola oil beating until incorporated, then add melted butter, beating further until well blended.
- Add lemon juice to the mashed bananas mixing well, then add sugar beating well with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the egg mixture into the banana mixture beating until well combined.
- Pour the dry ingredients all at once into the banana mixture, then add the milk and vanilla extract. If using chopped walnuts add them now. Mix until blended then pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow the banana bread to rest in the pan for about 15 minutes before turning out.
- Cool completely before storing in a covered container at room temperature.
Favorite Banana Quick Bread