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Sep 1, 2005 01:02 AM

Banana Bread report - a flat disappointment

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Well, I followed the Epicurious banana bread recipe almost to a T, and I was so disappointed! Oh it tasted good and people liked it (or were just polite), but I was really hoping for a nice rise & domed top, and it rose maybe 2 mm at most. I even slashed the top after it had just set as one poster suggested, but all that did was give me banana bread with a slash down the middle. I think people liked it only because of how much butter and chocolate it had, and maybe also how ripe the bananas were.

And the lemon juice didn't seem to make any difference, in rise nor in taste.

The things I did different:

I used 1/2 cup sugar instead of 1 cup. 1 cup just seemed like overkill, and my bananas were plenty ripe. The end product was actually a tad too sweet for my taste, but people thought it was sweet enough.

I didn't bother tossing the choc chips & nuts in the flour mixture; I've never had a prob of them sinking and didn't here (though the bread is so FLAT there really wouldn't have been any difference if they had sunk!)

It went against all my instinct to read "beat in flour mixture", so I folded/gently mixed it in instead of beating it in.

I didn't bother "layering" the batter with the chips/nuts. I simply folded them in when the flour mixture was almost all mixed in.

After pouring into the pan I pressed some nuts almost all the way into the top. I always do this for better presentation.

Also, my convection oven is way too efficient. I set the timer at 45 minutes to check it, and it was on the verge of overdone (in the 2nd photo, note the dark coloring of the insides of the bread's bottom corners).

Oh, and I made more of my usual high-fiber banana muffins. That's the 3rd photo below. Note the high concentration of 70% cocoa "TJ's Pound Plus" (more than usual).

So...I guess I'll have to simply try another recipe among the ones posted. Stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have any tips or recipe for a banana bread with a high dome top, please post.



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  1. I know you're not happy with it, but it still looks good. I wouldn't mind trying a piece right now, it's late and I'm feeling snacky.

    Can I direct you to this other Epicurious recipe below? It's been a favorite of mine for a while. It's moist, and not too dense. I'm not a big fan of bananas but this bread/cake is very good. (I like that the orange zest toned down the super ripe banana flavor, if you like that flavor I suggest leaving out the zest.)I made some other adjustments...

    - 3/4 dark brown sugar instead of 1 cup

    - 1/4 instead of 1/2 white sugar

    - orange zest instead of lemon (really good combo with the bananas I think)

    - walnuts instead of macadamias (just cheaper and the flavor of walnuts is more distinct and held up better to the orange & banana)

    - for the 1 cup of flake coconut I used a mixture of unsweetened & sweetened coconut

    - I also toasted the some of the sweetened coconut and walnuts to sprinkle on top of the loaves before baking to let people know what's inside

    I like things less sweet too, and the reduction of sugars didn't affect the crumb. Still tender.

    This recipe fits two loaf pans. There is also another version of this recipe on Epicurious but it only differs by 1/4 of a cup of flour. I've used this one a half dozen times with success so I can vouch for it now.

    You'll need a bamboo skewer to test these loaves, they rise nicely. I also like using a lighter colored pan to keep the loaves from darkening too much.

    good luck in your baking!


    1. seriously, try nigella lawson's recipe from how to be a domestic goddess. it's moist, fluffy, and incredibly easy to make (and hard to mess up). i'll happily paraphrase later when i have the book on hand, unless someone gets there first.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hobokeg

        it's on her website. please try it. it's wonderful.

      2. Are you using an old box of baking soda/baking powder? This stuff doesn't go bad but it does lose its leavening power after a while. I'd chuck what you're using and get a fresh box.

        1. This looked like a pretty standard banana bread recipe, and actually your picture shows a bread with crumb, not the dense mass Id expect if it didnt rise.

          One thing Im wondering if there was a mistake in the pan size - it looks from the picture like you used a full size loaf pan, but I think the pan called for is skinnier - or maybe the Epicurious instruction is wrong - at any rate, I think it was meant for a long skinny loaf pan instead of a full sized bread pan. If the loaf was flatter than intended, there might have been excessive drying of the cake that affected the texture.

          Cant imagine any need to slash a quick bread - if they are going to break in the middle, they will. Is there an issue with the convection oven drying the surface so much that this cant happen?

          Second, this is basically like a cake recipe - sugar is structural in forming a good tender crumb in cakes and you always will take a risk with not following the ingredient list as written.

          I shake my head sometimes when people complain about recipes while at the same time reporting all their additions and subtractions....however I do the same thing!

          1 Reply
          1. re: jen kalb

            I was wondering about pan size too. The loaf looked a little wide. Also how fresh are your baking powder and soda?

          2. I've never been a fan of the quick bread. To me, it's just a primitive cake recipe.