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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.

Link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

Image: http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b39...

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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!

    Link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

    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.

            1. Sorry that it was a flat disappointment for you, Alice. I've only made this exact recipe once a couple of months back. Pretty much followed it to a "T", except I couldn't find my 9" metal loaf pan so had to use an 8" glass instead.

              It rose nicely, but probably didn't meet your "domed top" requirement. I thought the crumb and flavor were good (sweet yes, but that's what I expect from banana bread), but even though I floured and layered the nuts and chips, many sank to the bottom during baking. I don't generally care for sweet quick breads, so haven't bothered again.

              Some thoughts I had while reading your post:

              1. I honestly can't recall seeing or eating a banana bread that had a puffy domed top. I wonder if there's something about BB that precludes this. I'm straining to remember how my mom's BB used to look. Don't think you'd want the recipe since it's def. more sweet and cakey.

              2. Sugar. I completely understand the need and desire to reduce sugar in recipes; however, this has to compromise the result. Sugar is such an integral part of "body" whether it be in cake or ice cream. My mom's zucchini bread, which does rise nicely, contains 1 c. of sugar per loaf.

              3. I think it's a flat mistake to manually split the top. If it needs to on its own, it will. Splitting the top seems like it would release built up air pockets (that's as scientific as I can get) and prevent rising.

              4. In the future, I say that you find an exact recipe that fits your specs (like low sugar) instead of tinkering too much. I also recall a discussion on getting a nice rise from cupcakes wherein it was suggested to start at a higher temp (maybe around 400-425F) and then reduce after a little while (I'm guessing around 10-15 min.).

              Good luck finding "the one" for you! Let us know when you do.

              1. Sounds like you are looking for a tea bread. They tend to be cakier and have a high rising dome. I googled several tea bread recipes, perhaps you can check them out. Good luck.

                Link: http://www.bendixens.com/recipes/bann...

                1. I've always had good results with my great aunt's recipe for banana bread. It's simple and delicious.

                  Connie's Banana Bread

                  Preheat the oven to 350.
                  Grease a 9x5" loaf pan.

                  Sift dry ingredients:
                  2 cups flour
                  1/2-3/4 cup sugar
                  1 tsp baking soda
                  1 tsp salt

                  Blend in blender until smooth:
                  3 preferably over-ripe bananas
                  2 eggs

                  Add banana/egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix until just barely blended. Don't overmix or the bread will be tough.

                  Pour into greased 9x5" loaf pan.

                  Bake at 350 for an hour

                  1. Check out the banana bread recipe on the Joy of Baking website--I've tried a lot of recipes and I think this one is the best.

                    Good luck!

                    Link: http://www.joyofbaking.com

                    1. You might try the banana bread recipe on Epicurious where you use sour cream?

                      1. I use the "Best Recipe: American Classics" recipe and it's fantastic.

                        - 2 Cups, All Purpose Flour
                        - 10 Tbsp. Sugar
                        - 3⁄4 Tsp. Baking Soda
                        - 1⁄2 Tsp. Salt
                        - 1⁄2 Cup (Heaping), Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
                        - 3 Over Ripe Bananas, well mashed
                        - 1⁄4 Cup, plain yogurt
                        - 2 Large Eggs, beaten
                        - 6 Tbsp. Butter, melted and cooled
                        - 1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract


                        Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips together. In a second bowl, mix bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter and vanilla. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry with a rubber spatula, until just combined. Scrape into loaf pan and smooth top with spatula. Bake at 350* for 55 minutes (A wooden tooth pick inserted into the middle should come out clean). Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack.

                        ***Substitute 1 cup of toasted walnuts and 2 tbsp. sugar for chocolate chips if desired.


                        1. I have the opposite problem, mine rises so much that it overflows onto the sheet underneath, me and my cat happily munch on those pieces. I've been making my recipe since I was in high school in the 60s, I found it in the library but who knows where. Anyway it calls for a few spoonfuls of baking powder, with baking soda, and I'm thinking 3 or 4 eggs? I can post the recipe after Christmas if you want. (Just noticed original post was over a year ago, so if anyone else wants the recipe....)

                          1. Alice, I've been using the version from the Joy of Cooking with great results (and a few tweaks) for years. It produces a moist and cakey bread.

                            1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
                            3/4 tsp. salt
                            1/2 tsp. baking soda
                            1/4 tsp. baking powder

                            5 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter
                            2/3 cup sugar
                            2 large eggs, lightly beaten
                            1 tsp. vanilla extract

                            3 mashed, very ripe bananas
                            3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

                            Make sure all your ingredients are at room temp. Preheat your oven to 350 F and grease a 6 cup loaf pan.

                            Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

                            In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on high speed 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Slowly add the flour mixture and blend until the consistency of brown sugar, scraping the bowl as you go. Beat in eggs slowly until combined. Add vanilla until combined.

                            Fold in banana and chocolate chips until just mixed (do not overbeat!). Pour into pan and spread evenly. Bake 50 - 60 minutes until done (convection will probably take 35 - 40 minutes). Cool ten minutes on a baking rack before turning out to cool completely.