Banana Bread Theory Question
Hi all, I don't really know baking. I am pretty good at yeast breads, but not much else. I've been working on banana bread lately, and don't really get how to adjust the rising. It is really down to a cosmetic issue at this point. I have the texture and flavor I was going for, but am missing the domed split top that I want. I'm just looking for things that might effect that. Dryer/wetter? More or less flour, banana? I use baking soda, maybe add some baking powder? Just would like to know in general what might influence a higher and split top. Thanks!
It's missing the domed top, but what IS it doing?
My recipe has both baking soda and baking powder, by the way -- what recipe are you using?
You said it's the right texture -- can you describe that? (I'd hesitate to add more flour if it's already moist)
Is it browning?
(it's just hard to help you diagnose without more detail)
Curious as to why you would want a domed split top? I always prefered the look of a gently rounded well-browned top. If you are truly happy with flavor and texture, I'd say you have a perfect recipe. If you grew up with a certain domed split top look on mom's banana bread, I guess I get that. You could experiment with adding just a 1/4 tsp or so of baking powder. My old stand-by recipe has 1-3/4 c of flour, with 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 t soda, but it needs the extra lift because it has a full cup of mashed banana, if that helps.
It does have a rounded top. I could leave well enough alone, but I want the split :) I'm only using 3/4t of soda, so I'll try a newer box and maybe a bit more. I don't want to use too much and get an off taste. Since you mention your recipe needing more lift due to full cup of banana, can I infer that maybe a bit less banana would give mine a little more rise?
Not sure about the domed top, but there's a trick for getting an even split on top. Before putting the loaf in the oven, dip your fingertip in vegetable oil and draw a line down the surface of the bread. The bread should split along the line you drew.
I've done that before, but I generally don't bother. As long as it tastes good, I don't care how/if it splits.
Is there acid in the batter, besides the banana? How about using both baking powder and baking soda? A rule of thumb is 1 tsp of baking powder per cup of flour. Since you are already getting leavening from the baking soda, you try half that.
Here's a link to the recipe I use -- makes a lovely mounded, split loaf (or muffins) every time:
Curiously, the BHG site doesn't have this version -- and the one they have is not the same. Even more curiously, the photo they have on the recipe they DO have posted shows a not-very-brown, not-very-domed, not-split loaf.
I used to have banana trees in my yard, and one year had THREE stalks of bananas. I can tell you that THIS recipe (linked above) can be doubled or tripled, and makes a lovely moist loaf every single time.
I posted my favorite recipe (from the Best Recipe, a long time ago) in the thread below. It has a nice cracked top and only uses baking soda. You can compare the ratios to your recipe and that might help you play with what you have. If you're using a regular loaf pan (as opposed to a non-stick), they say only to grease/butter the bottom.
Cracked, domed tops are achieved by preheating the oven to a few (~5F) degrees over the baking temp and cooking at that temp for a short time before reducing the heat to the recommended bake temp. (without opening oven) That way the item forms a crust while it has not yet finished rising and releasing steam. The steam and continued rising will then dome and crack the crust.
If you are baking the bread with the rack in a low position in the oven, try placing it medium-high instead so the top is heated more for faster crust formation.
I just made a nice banana bread yesterday with my usual recipe. The top was fairly domed and cracked. I use 1 teas. baking soda and one teas. baking powder and one teas. salt to two cups of flour for the dry ingredients. I also add about three tab. yogurt or sour cream for a little acid to help with rising.