First of all, let us back up a little bit. Bananas were first introduced in America in the 1870s, and although people could enjoy them while they were all yellow and fresh, once they ripened they had no alternative but throwing bananas away. Since there was no way they could have frozen them, and blenders were still science fiction, bunches of bananas ended up going to waste.
At least, this was the case until the 1930s, when the Great Depression set in. It was then that the Pillsbury Cooking Service published a collection of recipe cards that included what is commonly perceived to be the very first banana bread recipe in America, and it caught on like wildfire. In a time of poverty and dread, making use of ripe fruits was just what American households needed.
The story about how banana bread came to be in the States is not all rainbows and butterflies, but the silver lining of it all is the fact that today we can enjoy a scrumptious banana bread bite and what’s more, improve the original recipe to perfection.
Choose Your Cookware Carefully
Although oftentimes taken for granted, the selection of the right baking pan is crucial. This is so because the choice of the baking pan will affect the texture of your banana bread as well as the baking time.
Shape and Size
If you are using a bigger pan, then the batter will be evenly spread and naturally, it will be thinner, thus the baking time will be faster and you will get more crust.
It is called banana bread, so the bread pan is the standard dish required in most of the recipes. But, this doesn’t mean you have to be confined to only using this type.
Why not try muffin pans and get your banana bread in the form of a muffin? The use of the latter will result in a faster baking time than that of a standard loaf pan.
You can also use a square pan (about 8 in. in width and 3 in. high). If you opt for this shape bake for 45 minutes instead of an hour (on 350 F), but be careful, even if the banana bread looks like it is perfectly done on the sides, check the middle part since it might still need a minute or two more.
There is also a notable difference between baking in different pans when it comes to the material they are made of. Baking in glass pans (Pyrex), metal loaf pans, and non-stick loaf pans will call for different cook time. Baked goods will cook quite faster in a glass pan, than in metal one, and this is because our ovens transmit heat through infrared radiation and glass pans are transparent to it, whereas the metal ones are reflective, and some of the heat gets reflected off.
So if you opt for a glass pan, lower the temperature by about 25 F and add about 10 minutes to the cook time, and be on the lookout for doneness. You can check whether the banana bread is done by inserting a toothpick into the bread as soon as you see it turning brown and solid on top and see whether it comes out dry, if it does, your loaf is done.
However, the best choice would be using aluminum pans. Remember the talk about glass being a temperature insulator? Well, this might lead to burned bread, and since darker pans absorb the heat the result might again be a burned loaf.
If you don’t possess an aluminum pan, go ahead and use parchment (nonstick paper) to cover the bottom and sides of your pan. Proceed to spray the inside with nonstick cooking spray and you are good to go.
Prepare the Moistest Banana Bread
The quality for which this quick bread is so loved is its moistness. However not always do banana bread loaves turn out moist, and even more so, they turn out to be dry and tasteless.
Little do people know that the banana bread’s moistness is highly dependable on three things: fat, fruit, and dairy.
Now, you can add fat in the form of oils or butter. Many recipes encourage people to use oil for moister banana loaves, but we would advise against it. The reason behind this is because the final outcome may be greasy instead of moist, and that is definitely not something anyone craves for. Opting for butter will also result in a rich texture, and it pairs perfectly well with the sugar.
Another alternative when it comes to the “fat” part is using shortening. Using this alternative will not only result in a moist banana bread, but it will also ensure it doesn’t lose its moistness when served at family gatherings, or any other function that requires for the slices to be exposed to air and are at a risk of becoming dry.
Somewhere in-between oil and butter is the coconut oil. The perk of using this oil is the fact that it is solid at room temperature (much like butter) so you will not lose in the texture department, whereas it is as wet as oils are, so it will definitely ensure a moist texture. Another advantage of using coconut oil in your banana bread is the fact that it pairs perfectly well with fruits and will give it a nice tropical aroma. (If you, however, are not all that big of a fan of the coconut flavor, use refined coconut oil instead of its virgin counterpart).
While our ancestors didn’t have alternative uses for the brown-freckled fruits, we now know that the key to having a moist banana loaf is using overripe bananas. But, if your household isn’t one of those that can leave bananas be for longer than a day, don’t worry, you don’t have to hide a bunch of bananas in your cabinets, now there is an easier way to handle this problem. Just take your fresh yellow bananas and place them on a baking sheet in a 250°F, cook for 15-20 minutes or until they blacken and become soft. Give them enough time to cool, peel them and start implementing them in your recipe.
Adding an extra banana to the regular recipe will definitely increase its moistness but it will also change the texture of the bread, i.e. it won’t be as rich as if prepared with butter.
Blueberries. Folding in some blueberries into the batter will not only make your banana bread look like a polka dotted beauty, but they will definitely contribute to a moister texture.
Those banana bread recipes that call for a dairy product like buttermilk or sour cream are definitely going to be moist, this is because they help acidulate the batter. While sour cream is cheaper, you can always go for mascarpone, or even plain Greek yogurt (full-fat or skim to preference).
The last trick we have up our sleeves doesn’t have to do with the banana bread ingredients. Rather, it has to do with ensuring the best environment for your banana loaf to become moist. Just wrap the warm banana loaf in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.
Less is Never More When it comes to Banana Bread Loaves
While we all know the regular plain banana bread is pretty tasty as it is, it is always good to add some more flavor and texture.
Since the very base of this quick bread is made out of bananas, it is only logical it goes well with all sorts of fruits. Be them fresh or frozen, or even dried, fruits are a must when it comes to enriching the taste of a banana loaf. Anything from apples, avocados, blueberries, peaches, pears, pineapples and strawberries, to prunes and grapes, the list of fruits that can work their magic in a banana bread batter is virtually endless.
Regardless of whether you are using apples, pears or berries, more often than not they sink to the bottom of the loaf while baking. Well, we now offer you a solution that will put an end to this problem. Use a tablespoon or two of the flour you are planning to use in your banana bread and toss the fruits inside just to coat them. Proceed to add the fruits right before you put your loaf in the oven. The flour will absorb some of the liquid the fruit releases while baking and keeps it in place, releasing just the amount to add moistness but not to sink onto the bottom.
Despite the fact that it will make your banana bread a tiny bit heavier, chocolate will definitely make it tastier! Plus, it is common knowledge that chocolate activates the feel-good hormones in our bodies and boosts the serotonin levels.
Use semi-sweet chocolate whenever possible, and if you opt for chocolate chips be sure to toss them in flour. In fact, the above-mentioned instructions that applied to fruits apply for chocolate chips as well, follow them and prepare yourselves a scrumptious chocolaty banana bread.
Nuts make everything better! The crunch they provide to a warm banana bread is everything you need to ensure an interesting texture. Anything from almonds to pecans, to walnuts and hazelnuts, you can’t go wrong.
After choosing which of the nuts to add in, or even if you opted for a mixture of nuts, go ahead and toast them prior to folding them into your batter. By doing this, you will secure for the nuts to give out more of their nutty flavor. What’s more the moisture of the batter itself won’t make them softer, which means you will still enjoy a crisp bite.
The last tip we offer has to do with the same resourcefulness our female ancestors used when it came to ripe bananas. Only this time, we want to make sure no banana bread loaf goes to waste! Consider refrigerating your loaves or go for Banana Bread Oatmeal recipe.
I’m in love with food and everything about food! Blogging is my way of celebrating that love and MyGreatRecipes made it all happen. If you, too, are into great food and interesting reads, you will enjoy reading my posts!