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Banana Bread: simple and good

  • c
  • Carb Lover Apr 25, 2006 08:43 PM

Banana bread is certainly not my favorite quick bread, but I know a good one when I see and taste it. When I had 3 overripe bananas sadly slouching on the counter and going downhill quickly, I scurried to find a recipe.

My mom's recipe is alright, but too sweet and oily. Other recipes I've tried have been forgettable. So I was happy to find the linked recipe from the scrutinizing folks at America's Test Kitchen. As they tend to excel at homey American foods, this recipe was a winner and is now my go-to recipe for banana bread.

Pictured below, it is everything a quick bread should be: super easy to put together (no fancy equipment or major clean up) and super homey and delicious. Unfortunately, I didn't have any walnuts on hand like the recipe calls for, so I had to improvise and threw in the meager remnants of a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a handful of dried cranberries. While my plan B worked alright, I think using only toasted walnuts would have taken it to the next level. Chocolate chips are too sweet and overpowering in banana bread IMO. Unless you're allergic, go for the walnuts!!

I like that this recipe uses melted butter instead of nasty veg/canola oil. I also like that there's alot of banana and not too many fillers or spices to complicate it. Crumb was tight and very tender (from the yogurt), and the exterior was a beautiful, even bronze w/ that cracked crest that gives it oomph and character. Sliced like a dream. The banana really sang and thanked me for a dignified transformation. Tastes better as it ages...

BTW, if you think you have a better BB recipe, then please share...I'm not sure if I need it, but I'm a sucker for recipe comparisons.

Link: http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipe...

Image: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

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  1. Thanks! I've actually got all the ingredients. I'll make this cake tomorrow.

    1. c
      ChowFun (derek)

      This is my favorite..puddin' like with chunks of banana.

      Link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChowFun (derek)

        I took your recommendation and made this last nite. There's nothing left, and my bananas won't be ripe for another 4-5 days! The thing that intrigued me was the method of whipping the bananas and then mashing the others. It worked really well. Thanks.

      2. p
        PommieCrumpet

        This actually looks exactly like the Bill Granger recipe I use (and love) but trying to be healthy I cut the sugar out completely, use half wholewheat flour and half all purpose and then swap the chocolate chips for walnuts. I think the end result was even better, bananas provide enough sweetness on their own.

        Of course, we will overlook the fact I then eat it warmed and spread with nutella :-))

        Here is the link in case you do want to compare...

        Link: http://www.abc.net.au/westernplains/s...

        3 Replies
        1. re: PommieCrumpet

          One of my favorite recipes from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" is his banana bread recipe, which also calls for half whole-wheat flour with half all-purpose, and it addes this incredible nutty texture and flavor. I also don't like oily bread, and like my banana bread to be more toast-able so it can bear butter well.

          1. re: AppleSister

            I make a sweet potato bread using half whole wheat flour, and wheat bran, oat bran, and ground nuts for the other half. It should work just as well with bananas or other puree.

            Actually it is adapted from a pumpkin recipe, so I also use a mixture of the sweet spices and molasses. Since there is plenty of other flavors, I use oil instead of butter.

            paulj

          2. re: PommieCrumpet

            This is a good recipe, I've made it twice...I really like Bill Granger's stuff, but it still can't beat my mom's...

            Mix: 1 stick butter
            1 cup sugar
            Add and Mix: 2 eggs
            3 mashed bananas
            1/3 c. hot water
            1 cup oatmeal (Rolled Oats)
            1 cup whole-wheat flour
            1 tsp. salt
            1 tsp. baking soda
            Bake in 1 large bread pan, greased and floured, at 350 degrees.

          3. Here's a recipe I've fiddled with so often I can't remember where it's from. It's one of the few recipes I've given out to enough friends that they actually refer to as "P's Banana Bread." As in "What's that smell? Did you make P's banana bread again? Sweeeeet!" So yes, I'm proud. Total strangers (friends' roommates) have asked for this bread. But looking at your recipe, it seems like mine's just a little more volume. Very similar ingredient list.

            I'm with you on this one: banana bread is just a way to use up mushy bananas. But in the case of the recipe below, it's also a condiut for delicious orange glaze.

            1 1/4 C flour

            3 ripe bananas, mashed

            1 tsp baking soda

            1/2 tsp salt

            2 eggs

            1/2 tsp vanilla extract

            1/2 C butter

            1 C sugar

            1/2 C walnuts, crushed

            dash cinammon

            dash nutmeg

            Grease a pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

            Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

            Whisk together eggs and vanilla. Cream butter and sugar separately, then slowly pour in egg mixture. Stir in bananas.

            Fold flour mixture into wet mixture, and fold in the nuts. Pour into pan and bake for 55 minutes (use the toothpick test). Cool for five minutes and turn the loaf unto a cooling rack. Make an orange glaze while you wait, if you're feeling adventurous and self-indulgent.

            zest of 1/2 an orange (or a whole orange if you love zest)

            2 Tbs orange juice

            1 1/4 C powdered sugar

            1 Tb butter, softened (NOT melted. The butter should be just soft enough to spread)

            Whisk together all ingredients, and refrigerate until it's as thick as a very creamy gravy. It should be thick enough that it doesn't soak into the banana nut bread, but not so cold that it's hardening into a shell. If it's too hard when you check your fridge, microwave for 5 seconds at a time until it's gravy-like. Drizzle over your banana nut bread and serve.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nooodles

              Many thanks, Pei, for this recipe. I used up two giant and mushy bananas to make this tonight. Instead of a loaf pan, I made a dozen muffins. Took only 30 minutes to bake. And for the glaze, I used 3 T. of rum since I didn't have any oranges on hand. It was very easy to dip the muffins head-first into the bowl of icing to frost them. After the first layer set, I dipped them a second time since I had some icing leftover. Maybe it's just my imagination, but it does feel like a little alcoholic tingle when i eat the iced muffins!

            2. The banana bread looks great. I have tried the recipe too and thought it was really good, it is a textbook perfect banana bread that is sweet but not overly so and has a really nice crumb. A lot of other banana breads I've tried turn out cakey. I've tried a few others but my community of tasters all gave ATK's BB a thumbs up. The only other BB recipe I've tried that I like better is from Steven Pyles, it calls for roasted bananas which I have incorporated into ATK's recipe. The other ingredients (pumpkin seeds, coconut milk and rum soaked raisins) are more exotic and not for BB purists.

              Link: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...

              1. both recipes in Beard on Bread are just great. always get compliments when I bake these loaves.

                1. Maybe you could convert this recipe to banana muffins and submit it to Mrs. Smith for her muffin contest :)

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Funwithfood

                    FWF, I can't believe you're soliciting competition--I thought you were clearly in the lead (with your, ahem, cupcake recipe!).

                    :)

                    1. re: Smokey

                      Yeah...not too smart of me.

                      Well "Mr. Smarty Pants", I wouldn't have submitted it as a 'muffin', if it tasted like a cupcake :)

                      (Perhaps you should give it a try--it is indeed very "moist & chocolatey", as it's name suggests.)

                  2. ATK's recipe is also my go-to recipe for banana bread. I've tweaked the recipe for my taste by decreasing the butter a tad and adding a bit more sugar. If you're in the mood for a banana cake, I highly recommend their Banana-Nut Chiffon cake from their Baking Illustrated book. I made it for the first time last night and it was light and moist with an intense banana flavor. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

                    1. Sounds good. The one change I'd suggest based on eye-balling the ATK recipe is NOT to mash your bananas well. A little bit of chunkiness is delightful; coming across little pockets of gooey, buttery banana goodness is my favourite part of eating banana bread.

                      And a great addition is a roughly chopped bar of dark chocolate. Chocolate chips always seemed too uniform for my tastes...

                      1. Glad to see BB fans come out of the woodwork. Thanks for offering your tried-and-true recipes. BB doesn't have to be boring!!

                        I esp. like the idea of roasting the bananas first for deeper flavor and not mashing the bananas too finely. Also look forward to experimenting w/ other grains, flavorings, and nuts. I can never leave well enough alone...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          From personal experimentation, I'd say roast one or two, but not all of your bananas. All of your bananas roasted = very sweet, more sugary than banana flavour.
                          One/two bananas roasted and combined with some uncooked, ripe bananas=a great mixture of caramelized banana and normal cooked banana goodness.

                          Roasting is quite a good way to deal with that one banana which is not quite perfectly ripe, as well.

                          Thanks for reminding me about BB. I've been so busy trying to recreate a caramel banana custard tart from my local pastry cafe, that I've been a bit one-track with my bananas.

                        2. Ya' know, This thread sure got a lot of play for a food so many people claim to not be interested in.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: yayadave

                            I think it's partly due to the fact that most people I know don't PLAN on making BB when they buy bananas; it's a last resort so they don't feel guilty about throwing away old bananas. Look at it this way: if I liked bananas that much to begin with, I wouldn't have a problem w/ old bananas. Speaking of, I think I have a few that are heading down that road again...(I can't wait for summer berries and fruit!!)

                          2. funny you mention this. at work we have a million bananas rotting so i made banana bread yesterday with my old recipe. i still have 1/2 a million bananas left so i'll try your recipe today! :D

                            thanks for posting. i like a lot of cooks illustrated recipes for american classics as well.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: junglekitte

                              With all those bananas it sounds like you work in a zoo. You don't have to use up all your bananas at once. You can mush em up and freeze them for future use.

                              1. re: Tracy L.

                                haha i did just that. i work in a hotel that serves bananas during breakfast but i guess they can't get through them all. i froze them yesterday and will make banana breads when i have more time to add to the breakfast menu. still hoping to try this recipe out!

                            2. My fave BB - aside from my mother's walnut one, which I still dream of - is a chocolate BB. Just replace 1/3 c. flour with unsweetened cocoa powder. If you use a low-fat recipe, you've got a practically guilt-free choc cake on your hands!

                              1. I don't have another banana bread recipe for you (although I can look it up when I go to my mom's) -- but I always serve banana bread as an accompaniment to curried chicken salad. I know, it sounds hideous! But it really is the most delicious combo for an early summer dinner that I know.

                                I got the idea from the Junior League of Palo Alto cookbook, c. 1979, of all places. The chicken salad has a curry-flavored mayonnaise, pineapple chunks, and green onions.

                                It's served like this: a large white plate, several leaves of pretty Romaine lettuce, a little dome of chicken salad, three narrow fingers of banana bread. Delightful!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: gus

                                  Actually, it makes a lot of sense to me. Bananas are creamy and mildly flavoured - they'd go great with curried anything. My mother makes a simple tomato chicken curry, and in the last moment of cooking, she chucks in a couple thickly sliced bananas, which start to 'melt' into the curry. Sooo good.

                                2. Try sprinkling raw cashews and sesame seed over the top before baking. They add a bonus taste and texture treat to each slice. Especially nice when toasting!

                                  1. Low-fat Banana Bread (my staple recipe, requested by coworkers)
                                    2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
                                    1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
                                    1 teaspoon baking powder
                                    1 teaspoon baking soda
                                    1/4 teaspoon salt
                                    1/2 cup skim milk
                                    1 large egg
                                    2 to 3 bananas,very ripe (larger amount yields moister bread)
                                    1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
                                    1/2 cup cup chopped walnuts

                                    Bake at 350 degrees, about 40 minutes. Use regular loaf pan, but I use a 10-inch by 4-inch pan. Spray with Pam.

                                    Blend dry ingredients. Mash bananas with lemon juice. Add milk and egg to dry. Add bananas. Fold in bananas.

                                    1. Late response to a year-old thread, I know...but in my defense, I just found it! I love banana bread, even more than bananas on their own, and I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the recipe from the Tassajara Bread Book. It's one of my fav cookbooks, and the banana bread recipe is my go-to banana bread, as well as my all-time fav bb recipe. It's low sugar and simple to modify/add to (I like to mix it up sometimes and add dried cranberries or dried cherries or dried currants or chocolate chips, and sometimes I play with the spices too and add things like cardamom or nutmeg) Couldn't find it published online anywhere, so here are the ingredients:

                                      2 cups whole wheat flour (to make it lighter I often do half whole wheat, half unbleached wheat flour)
                                      1 teaspoon baking soda
                                      1/2 cup oil
                                      1/2 cup honey
                                      1 grated lemon rind
                                      2 beaten eggs
                                      2 cups ripe banana pulp
                                      1/4 teaspoon salt
                                      1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
                                      1/2 cup raisins (optional)

                                      Basic instructions: sift together dry ingredients, blend wet ingredients (including lemon zest). Add dry ingredients and banana pulp, alternately in three parts, to the wet ingredients. Pour into greased loaf pan (or muffin tins I suppose!) for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. (less time I would imagine, if you made muffins).

                                      1. I know this thread is old, but I made the ATK banana bread yesterday and it is delicious. I cut the sugar a bit, added some cinnamon, and used unsweetened applesauce instead of butter. Omitting the butter allows me to pretend it's healthy =) It was a BIG hit and I will be making it again for sure.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: ArikaDawn

                                          ATK has a new recipe for BB bread out can somebody please post is they have tried it and also post recipe if you liked results. Thk

                                          1. re: 510jeff

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/721479

                                        2. Carb Lover, this is an old thread, but had some bananas and made your suggested recipe.
                                          It is cooling right know so I can't comment on it just yet, however I was wondering when you put it in the pan to bake is it a fairly dry mix. I also tried to level it and am wondering if I slightly packed it unknowingly. I am thinking this because it did rise very much and it took an extra 5 mins in the oven. I used sour cream since that is what I had on handle, mixed whole wheat with white flour and added a heaping tbsp of wheatgerm. Also added some cinnamin!
                                          Will let you know shortly how it turned out.....
                                          BTW, just opened the photo and noticed it doesn't rise much, so I guess that answers that question. LOL

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: heylids

                                            After tasting this recipe I can't say I love it. Perhaps the changes I made doesn't do justice to the origional recipe. Will keep trying. Hank, I am not a member of CI, could you paraphase the recipe for us? I will also post my usual banana bread (which we like!) recipe soon. thanks

                                            1. re: heylids

                                              Antilope already paraphrased the CI on another thread. You might find the discussion useful.
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7214...

                                              1. re: toveggiegirl

                                                Yep. that's it. I am so grateful I don't have to paraphrase it. It really sounds good and seems to have some very concentrated banana flavor.

                                          2. Joanne Chang's recipe from Flour Bakery.
                                            It's simple, moist, and not overly sweet.

                                            http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gi...

                                            Cheers!
                                            http://theavidbaker.wordpress.com

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: sugarcube

                                              i make this banana bread and it is a winner!!! so moist and so delicious!

                                            2. After a fair amount of testing different recipes for banana bread, I've settled on the Joy of Baking recipe, which strikes the perfect balance for me.
                                              http://www.joyofbaking.com/breakfast/...

                                              1. Cook's Illustrated has another banana bread recipe they call the "Ultimate Banana Bread" which sounds even richer and tasting more of banana. http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recip...

                                                I have never cooked this recipe but it does seem to make sense.

                                                1. I have 3 sad bananas waiting for this recipe right now....I'll post back after my family tries it. :)

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: rizzo0904

                                                    I made the recipe posted by the OP. It was very good. I added some cinnamon. Next time I would probably switch out some of the white sugar for brown.

                                                  2. I had some bananas that went overripe and thought I'd use them for a banana bread...I don't make it much and don't have a good recipe so a search this morning brought me to this thread.

                                                    I used the recipe posted in the original post. I subbed whole wheat flour for half the flour and used pecans instead of walnuts but didn't otherwise intend to modify. However, I forgot to add the melted butter in to the mix. Didn't realize this until it had come out of hte oven and I found the ramekin of butter in the microwave while making dinner.

                                                    I also used non-fat Fage for the yogurt. So in the end there was little fat in it.

                                                    Despite the mistake, and without subbing anything for the butter, it turned out quite good. The texture is really nice as is the flavor. I'll toast some in the morning and think it will be very good with butter spread on it hot (better on the bread than in it perhaps!)

                                                    I'll have to make it as written to compare but this was much better than the Julee Rosso low fat banana bread I've made in the past.