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Yummy additions to banana bread?

  • m

I'm trying to develop the most yummy banana bread possible. I like it very moist, with lots of banana flavor, and I'm starting from the basic Bittman recipe in How to Cook Everything (stick of butter, 3 bananas, 2 eggs, 2 c. flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, dried coconut, nuts.)
I've tried the following modifications:
--used more bananas. Went up to four, next time will go to five. I reduced a bit the butter, but next time will leave the whole stick in.
--I toasted the coconut. Bleh. It was sawdust-like coconut to begin with, and toasting it only made it harder.
--I toasted the nuts (pecans). Didn't notice a difference in the final product.
--added 3/4 C. of raisins which had been soaked in rum. This was yummy!
--When the bread was just out of the oven, I threw on it the rum in which the raisins had been soaking. I think it was about a half cup, and it was delicious!

. But I still don't have the ultimate yumminess. I've been thinking of using coconut milk instead of coconut, but can that be done? Should I eliminate another ingredient in order to add the coconut milk? And I'm wondering what else I can add to make a great banana bread (and also to make it as pudding-y as possible.)

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  1. I don't have the recipe in front of me but the banana bread that I make calls for oil instead of butter and also has cinnamon and nutmeg. I just recently made it with chocolate chips, it was great. I like to under bake it a little and I find that if you put it in the fridge for a couple of hours it is easier to slice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mleigh

      Yes, chocolate chips. My mother has always put chocolate chips in her banana bread - probably to get us to eat it when we were little - and what do you know, her tactic was successful.

    2. I've made a few variations that increase the gooey creamy moist factor. Unfortunately I don't have the recipes. One called for plain yogurt; one called for condensed or evaporated milk, either way you have to adjust the sugar. Another method is to add a packet or two of powdered banana pudding mix... that seems to really keep moisture. Finally, using brown sugar seems to help as well. I don't like banana bread myself, but I recall each of these producing a good loaf for the lovers of the stuff in my life!

      1. My housemate makes banana bread regularly, and always puts dried cranberries in it. I think the tartness balances really well with the sometimes cloying sweetness from the bananas.

        I also agree with the other poster that using oil instead of butter will give you a more gooey product. Using a strongly flavored oil (a nut oil or even EVOO) will add flavor and richness. You could probably substitute coconut milk for some of the oil as well.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Cranberries--very good.
          Currants, soaked in rum--even better.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            ....I have a bottle of walnut oil in the fridge, but have only used it for vinagrettes. Never thought about using it in a quick bread recipe that uses oil and nuts. Thanks for the creative suggestion!

          2. Try adding 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt, keep the toasted cocunut and sub toasted macademia nuts for the pecans. Its a version of the CI recipe that I love.

            1. p
              Professor Salt

              I get really moist, very banana-y results using the Cook's Illustrated recipe in The Best Recipes book. The recipe uses plain yogurt, but nothing else that starts off as a liquid. I say "starts off liquid" because butter and sugar both liquefy during baking.

              One other thing - I save my almost-too-ripe bananas in the freezer for banana bread. I thaw them in the nuke before use, which also releases some water. Perhaps this intensifies the already ripe banana flavor?

              1. I get rave reviews on my banana bread, using the recipe from The Silver Palate, calling for a cup of whole wheat flour and a cup of AP flour. Also, I sometimes use half applesauce in place of half the butter. I try not to over mix the batter once the bananas go in, so there are still some chunky pieces of banana in the final product.

                1. I think using oil instead of butter makes the bread more moist as well. I use 1/2 c. of orange juice and 1 T. grated orange rind for moisture and taste as well. Also, at times I use maraschino cherries,(1/2 c. chopped) but I love dried cherries in the bread. I make a glaze of powdered sugar and orange juice and drizzle over bread after it's cooled. Hope this helps.

                  1. Buttermilk for the liquid. Reduce the baking powder by half a teaspoon and add half a teaspoon of baking soda. Moist goodness!!

                    1. There's a wonderfully moist and complex Guinness Stout Ginger Cake in Claudia Fleming's book "The Last Course". I think a banana version would be worth attempting.

                      Link: http://meglioranza.com

                      1. This will sound odd, but I read it in a recipe once, and it seems to work great. I soak the bananas I'm going to use in coffee (decaf is fine, if caffeine is a concern). I don't use all the coffee, but throw in a few tablespoons when I mash up the bananas. This works especially well if you're using chocolate chips...

                        I also second the plan yogurt- that works great, and low-fat works fine for me.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Flynn

                          yum. reminds me of a smoothie I used to make w/ frozen bananas, coffee flavored yogurt, and choc. syrup. (health food, no?)

                          1. re: Flynn

                            Yes, I do the same thing with coffee! It was from the original Moosewood cookbook, I think. It really adds a depth of flavor and richness to it.

                          2. f
                            frustrated mom

                            Substitute 1/4 cup wheat germ for an equal amount of flour and add chopped dried apricots.

                            1. I found my recipe, I think it is worth trying. Combine 2 beaten eggs, 5 mashed very ripe bananas, 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup cooking oil. In another bowl combine 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/8 tsp nutmeg. combine wet and dry ingredients and mix in 1 cup chocolate chips. Pour into a greased loaf pan and add topping. Topping: combine 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour and cut in 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake @350 for 55-65 minutes or less for goeyer bread. It's sooo good.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: mleigh

                                mleigh (if you're still looking in), I have baked and tasted a lot of banana bread over the years.

                                However, I have to say yours is one of the best I have ever made, and tasted. Ever.

                                Thank you very much for sharing your recipe.

                                1. re: dolores

                                  This is not dissimilar to another banana bread which was popular on this board way back when - http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                  Although this uses buttermilk instead of most of the oil, and doesn't have the topping. Still very, very good. I like it with chopped up chocolate, and I roast half of the bananas (I use 4-5) before using, to increase the banana flavour.

                              2. Not much more to add (this is a obsession in perfection for me too) but recently I tried adding orange zest at the end and it was very good. People love banana bread don't they?!

                                1. c
                                  Caitlin McGrath

                                  I always use part or all brown sugar in banana bread; the flavor works very well with bananas. As for additions, dried cranberries or dried tart cherries, or chopped frozen cranberries (pulse v. briefly in food processor, don't thaw before adding) are a nice complement to the sweet banana flavor. Cinnamon and/or nutmeg are terrific flavors, as is grated fresh ginger or chopped crystallized ginger. Cinnamon or butterscotch chips would probably be very good,too.

                                  1. I'm surprised others have suggested this already, but chocolate chips are great in banana bread.
                                    Granted I wouldn't put chocolate chips, cranberries, apricots, rum, orange zest and coconuts all in the same bread. But maybe find a combo you like? I make mine with buttermilk, pecans and chocolate chips.

                                    1. OK, I have to chime in too. Cream of tartar is the magic secret ingredient in my mother's blender banana bread. Just toss in a tablespoon or so for a creamy tartness that really complements the banana flavor. YUM!

                                      1. I substitute whole wheat pastry flour (softer and finer than regular ww flour) for all of the white flour, with great results.

                                        1. Try using a high quality extra virgin coconut oil and a coconut extract flavoring. adds flavor without the texture of dry flakes. Chocolate chips are yummy, but once I had to substitute carob chips - and discovered I actually like the flavor better! A surprise to me! I just tossed them over the top of the loaf a few minutes before done time - so they wouldn't burn. Am using dark chocolate chip this afternoon though - and looking forward to it! Another yummy addition is - no, not those nasty dried banana chips, but chunks of dried whole banana - you can get these all over the place in Hawaii, or buy them at Trader Joe's or make them yourself... ooh, I love it! they are chewy and such a rich caramel aromatic banana sweet!

                                          1. Coconut milk usually comes out of the can with a thick layer of oil at the top. How about substituting this for the butter or oil in your recipe, and substituting the liquid part of the coconut milk for other liquid in the recipe?

                                            In a pumpkin bread recipe, I like to use half white whole wheat flour, and half a mix of ground nuts (almond usually), oats, oat bran, etc. Obviously that kind of substitution makes for a denser loaf. Rolled oats provide texture like dried coconut, but cook up a bit softer.

                                            Prune puree or 'butter' adds moisture, and works as a substitute for fat. But you may not want more fruit puree in this recipe.

                                            Diced candied ginger adds a nice touch to a bread like this - chewy spicy bits. Diced dried apricot is another good accent.


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: paulj

                                              i was going to suggest my *secret* of coconut milk!

                                            2. It may be sacrilegious, but I've replaced a banana or two with pureed persimmon to good effect.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: trentyzan

                                                no way..i do the same thing (: i LOVE pureed persimmon or yes even canned pumpkin puree with banana bread. It adds a rich flavor and added moisture

                                              2. I think I am going to have to make banana bread this weekend! Great ideas!

                                                1. Dates. Something about the musky flavor of dates really works for me with banana bread. Walnuts, too, of course. And sliced bananas sprinkled with sugar on the top can add some texture.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: curiousbaker

                                                    Agreed. Last weekend I made banana date muffins that were really good.

                                                  2. I like putting peanut butter chips and chocolate chips in my banana bread.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. Substitute half of the white flour for graham flour!

                                                      1. how 'bout soaking the raisins in coconut rum, instead of just regular. There are also recipes for home-made banana liqueur online. I'm also wondering if the addition of an extra egg yolk might make it more "pudding-y". Another thought might be the addition of some crushed pineapple.

                                                        1. I've been adding about 1/2 cup of Bailey's, and it adds a really nice touch.

                                                          I've been using a recipe I got from Chow last year titled "The Best Banana Bread

                                                          Because of the added liquid I bake it in a 9" springform so it cooks through.

                                                          I'll do a search and see if I can locate the post.

                                                          1. I make banana bread with a streusel topping, and though it's simple, it puts it over the top. It's just brown sugar, flour, walnuts, and butter, as much or as little as you like. The added texture is really nice and makes a huge difference.

                                                              1. re: KevinB

                                                                Not wanting to add on too much to a perfect thing, but... TOASTED WALNUTS. Or even fresh pecans.

                                                              2. coconut milk, rum, and molasses... some in my circle like me to add chopped hazelnuts or hazelnut oil to their batches...

                                                                i also recently, at the request of a friend, made "trail mix banana bread." i used buttermilk and sour cream, as well as mixed in coconut shreds, carob chips, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chopped cashews, and raisins.

                                                                another interesting textural addition is rice krispies... don't knock it til ya try it! ...even more interesting is chunks of nestle's crunch...

                                                                1. Mostly will top with a praline pecan topping made of brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon.
                                                                  And now I just was thinking that I have some cream cheese to use, so I think I'll sweeten it and make a batter to run the length of the bread, dropping it in the center...

                                                                  1. Something that is wonderful with the banana,coconut and nuts is a lime juice/sugar/(butter and rum?) glaze brushed on the warm bread. It's from a banana/lime bread recipe in Sundays at Moosewood.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: jvozoff

                                                                      This is a seriously delicious recipe (link: http://panepanenuedi.blogspot.com/200... ). But I will say that the banana ends as part of an ensemble cast rather than the sole star.

                                                                    2. For Christmas, my MIL always makes Banana Split bread. I hate it (egh!), but my husband loves it... Regular banana bread, with the addition of chocolate chips, toasted walnuts, maraschino cherries, and dried pineapple.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: happybellynh

                                                                        You will NEVER believe that this is low fat. I always use non fat yogurt instead of sour cream, use 1/2 cup whole wheat flour with white and add 1 T flax to make it even healthier. I always make it in a loaf without the topping. It's amazing