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Jun 5, 2014 08:42 AM

Curdled-looking Banana Bread batter

Although not my favorite, I make this Banana Bread recipe often:

I first beat air into my butter/sugar mixture, then incorporate the eggs. At the next step where I incorporate the bananas and buttermilk, the mixture looks very curdled and broken. I always feel like I've lost all the air from the first step. I've tried adding everything at once and adding a little at a time. Still, sometimes the crumb comes out fine, but other times very dense and rubbery. (I'm very careful not to over-mix anything.) Any ideas on what could be happening? Could the age of my buttermilk affect the crumb in this way? Is the first step not meant to introduce air into the batter?

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  1. Is everything at room temp? How are you mixing your butter and sugar and for how long? Have you tried,instead of adding the buttermilk mix at once, start w/ flour mix fold until mixed, alternating w/ buttermilk, twice, ending w/ flour?

    Why do you keep making it if it's not your favorite? There are quite a few excellent banana bread recipes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      I've made this bread at least 30 or so times, so I've experimented quite a bit...

      Usually everything is at room temp, with the only exception sometimes being butter. I've tried both with room temp butter and butter that's still 10 degrees or so colder than room temp, what I consider "softened". I remember reading somewhere that completely room temp butter will prevent a pound cake from rising properly so I've tried a few times with the non-quite-room-temp butter just to see what happens. Also, on really hot days, I feel the heat generated by my handheld electric mixer adversely affects my butter/sugar creaming process, so I'll leave the butter a little cooler on those days, too.

      I mix the butter and sugar with a hand held electric mixer for a long time, until the mixture sort of changes color if you know what I mean. Unless I get to this stage, I never feel like there's any air in the mixture. I have also mixed it until just combined, and also by hand a couple times until just combined. I can't remember what happened those times.

      I haven't tried alternating with this recipe, however sometimes I get a curdled-looking batter just by adding the bananas, before I even add the buttermilk. Could this be because of very overripe or frozen bananas? I use both frozen and unfrozen bananas, whatever I have at the moment, but I always measure the bananas before adding to the batter.

      I keep making this recipe for variety. I have five recipes I alternate between. When it comes out right, it's still pretty good. I call this the "people's banana bread" because it's the one most people I know prefer (I'm guessing for its "moistness".) Also, the loaf bakes very large in a 9x5 pan, making for a good presentation.

      1. re: bmorecupcake

        As sandylc said, you don't need to beat it that much because you don't need to incorporate air. I just mix it until it's uniform. Try alternating dry w/ wet and fold it in. I don't think it's the bananas. I use both fresh and defrosted frozen bananas and don't have problems with it.

      2. re: chowser

        my first thought was maybe the buttermilk being tangy & butter being too cold.
        also thought that bananas can have an almost tannin feeling on my tongue (that odd sensation on the back sides) that may have reacted in a weird way.

        a recipe from 1977 is the recipe I've based my version on with my tweaks.
        it's a winner around these parts.

        that recipe calls for:
        margarine, I sub salted butter
        nuts-I omit as hub doesn't enjoy
        2T heavy cream, I use double cream (don't know the difference but like the sound and origin).
        1 1/4 c sugar but first time I made it found it too sweet so changed to 3/4 c

      3. Try adding some of the flour, then the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour. Adding liquid to the butter-egg emulsion can throw off the emulsion and cause it to break. Usually just adding the dry ingredients makes everything look normal again. Your ingredients being cold will add to the likelihood of curdled-looking batter.

        1. It's a quick bread, not a cake. You don't need to incorporate air. I melt my butter.

          3 Replies
          1. re: sandylc

            Same here. My favorite recipe is the one from Smitten Kitchen, which calls for melted butter:

            My batter for quick breads is often lumpy and curdled-looking. I had always thought that's how it's supposed to be, in contrast to cake batter.

            1. re: sandylc

              Doesn't the gas released from the baking soda need air to expand and rise the batter?

            2. You don't need to incorporate air -- all you are supposed to do is mix the butter and sugar together. Then add your eggs, mix again until incorporated, and then add your bananas, etc. I think you are overmixing the butter and eggs so that when you add the bananas, it becomes too much and it all separates.

              1. That's just what banana bread looks like at that stage of the mixing... at least my mama's recipe always did. The bananas don't want to mix into the fatty mixure. Add a little flour and voila, the mixture emulsifies like magic.