Everybody has a favorite banana bread recipe in their cookbook… scratch that, I meant cooking app. The reason everybody loves this quick-bread is its simplicity. The first requirement for producing a perfect banana loaf is to have a few tired bananas sitting in the pantry and waiting to be saved. The rest of the ingredients are pretty basic – flour, sugar, eggs, baking soda, salt, and butter/oil.
Banana bread recipes are very flexible. That means you can still make banana bread even if you lack one of the above-mentioned ingredients. Plus, you can add any extras that come to mind without spoiling its deliciousness. On the contrary, it will taste even better!
When it comes to the method of preparation, nothing is faster and easier to make from scratch than a banana loaf. Ten minutes to throw the ingredients together and an hour wait for the oven to do its job! The most important thing you need to possess at this point is patience. You will need it in order to resist that heavenly aroma coming out of your kitchen.
However, every amazing dish has its own secrets and even the simplest ones can fail. For instance, you might end up with a flatbread instead of a tender and moist banana cake. Or the loaf is perfectly prepared but you’ve used a wrong type of baking pan and you are unable to remove the loaf without mutilating it.
This post reveals the secrets to making a perfect banana bread from scratch.
Choose the Right Ingredients for Your Banana Bread
Some food historians believe that banana bread became popularized during the Great Depression by housewives who found various resourceful ways to reuse foods such as overripe bananas.
So how do you know if the bananas sitting in the cabinet are good to use in your recipe? Overripe bananas are easier to process (i.e. mash), but standard yellow ones yield more intense flavor. So, my advice is to use slightly overripe, i.e. soft bananas, with a few brown spots on the skin.
One thing you can be sure of is that using greenish bananas in banana bread is forbidden! However, if you are experiencing a raging banana bread crave, there is a solution. Place the unpeeled greenish bananas on a baking sheet in the oven and bake at 250°F for about 15 minutes until soft. They will be completely black, but don’t let the unappealing looks fool you. These black bananas will produce a perfect loaf. Let them cool, peel, and start preparing your recipe.
How do you process the bananas? The classic way most cooks prefer is to mash them to a puree with a fork. Other cooks opt for food processors in order to obtain a perfectly smooth puree. The third option is to smash the bananas, leaving a few chunks. This will make the banana-y flavor stand out. Bottom line is – don’t over-mash!
How many bananas are enough for a perfect banana bread? Most recipes call for two or three, but to emphasize the banana flavor, use a total of four bananas.
You can replace the all-purpose flour for whole wheat, or another favorite whole-grain flour like barley and spelt. Choose from gluten-free flours like oatmeal, coconut, rice, chickpea, or tapioca flour. Mix and match to make a different quick-bread every time.
Most recipes call for regular granulated sugar. Bear in mind that overripe bananas are quite sweet, so they act as a natural sweetener in the loaf. Those who don’t fancy their delights too sweet can simply skip the sugar. If you still want to use a sweetener, choose a healthier option like honey, pure maple syrup, or molasses.
Dairy contributes tenderness and moistness to your banana loaf. When to comes to dairy substitutes, you can choose from non-dairy milk like almond, coconut, soy or rice milk, or opt for fermented dairy products like kefir or sour milk. Yogurt? Even better. The secret ingredient that will lift up your bread (literally) is buttermilk. No buttermilk at hand? Add a tablespoon of white vinegar in a glass of milk (any kind of milk) and wait for 5 minutes.
Eggs are crucial because they act as a binder in every recipe. But if you have forgotten to buy eggs, don’t rush to the store just yet. Check if you have some chia or flax seed and mix one of them with water to make a sticky egg-like substitute in only 15 minutes!
Another way is to mix two tablespoons of flour with 1/2 teaspoon of oil, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, and 2 tablespoons of milk or yogurt. Beat them together until smooth. This mixture replaces one egg.
The classic choice is melted butter, whether just softened or completely melted. Other variants use vegetable oil which makes the bread fluffier.
- Rising agents
The flexibility of the ingredients we mentioned before does not apply to rising agents. In order to be fluffy and soft, your banana loaf needs baking soda or baking powder. If you don’t have any of them in your pantry you last resort is self-rising flour.
Choose the Right Cookware for Your Banana Bread
Never underestimate the importance of great cookware. A sticky pan can ruin even the best banana bread. Here is what you must have in your kitchen.
- Loaf pan
Preheat the oven to 350°F. When choosing the perfect loaf pan, the key word is – nonstick. Most of us own metal pans, with dimensions 9 x 5 x 2 ¾’’. If your pan is sticky, cover the bottom and sides with parchment paper and spray the inside with nonstick spray. As a substitute for metal pans, you can use glass, stoneware, or ceramic pans.
- Bowls, cups, and teaspoons
You need one saucepan or fireproof bowl to melt the butter in. The rest of the bowls used to hold the measured ingredients can be glass, plastic or ceramic, doesn’t matter. The size is optional, but small to medium will suffice. Don’t forget a teaspoon for measuring the salt and, optionally, vanilla extract.
You need this tool to mix the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the melted butter and sugar in the mixing bowl until combined. Add the eggs and keep whisking until smooth, then add the milk. This can be easily done with a fork or spoon as well. Some cooks prefer to use hand mixers or food processors. This method is faster and easier but will leave you with a few more dishes to wash afterward.
This simple utensil is crucial in banana bread recipes. You need a fork to mash the bananas, although it is probably even more efficient if you use a potato masher for this purpose. Add the mashed bananas into the mixing bowl.
Once you add the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt) into the mixing bowl, it is time to switch to using a spatula. Stir in the ingredients, bearing in mind this general rule – lumpy batters produce fluffier delights. The spatula performs two more important tasks; it scrapes all the batter from the bowl effectively and smoothens the top of the batter when poured into the loaf pan. You can even use it to spread glaze over the loaf. Extra tip: a palette knife or a regular knife can also be used for this purpose.
- Cake tester
Cake tester or an ordinary toothpick is inserted into the batter to check the doneness. If it comes out clean, the banana loaf is ready to be devoured!
15 Easy Banana Bread Recipes
Banana bread is great for saving your dying bananas, but you can also save any kind of unused fruits by incorporating them in this versatile recipe and take your quick-bread to a healthier level. To add even more wholesomeness plus some crunchiness, go for nuts!
Fruity Banana Bread
- Pumpkin Banana Bread. Pumpkin supports banana’s health benefits that include improved heart rhythm, better vision, and facilitated weight loss plus contributes a few extra nutrients that will regulate your blood pressure and sleeping patterns.
When incorporating pumpkin puree into your banana loaf, don’t forget to pair it with spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove in order to create that special autumn-y taste. Another ingredient that pumpkin loves is vanilla. Add vanilla into the batter or, better yet, to a glaze that also calls for heavy cream, sugar, and a pinch of salt.
- Avocado Banana Bread. This super-fruit will give your bread amazing creaminess, in addition to its many nutritive elements that include vitamins B5, B6, C, E, and K, as well as high levels of folate and potassium. Combine two small mashed avocados with either chocolate chips or berries in your quick-bread.
- Blueberry Banana Bread. Speaking of berries, it is hard to decide which one to make use of. Strawberry banana bread slices make a completely sinful combination with smeared Nutella cream. However, if you are looking for a healthier snack, choose blueberries. Dubbed ‘one of the world’s healthiest fruits’, these purple marbles contain powerful antioxidants that keep you safe from diseases, as well as fiber that keeps you satiated for a longer time.
Nutty Banana Bread
Nuts are rich in essential unsaturated and monounsaturated fats, amino acids, vitamins E and B2, folate, fiber, as well as numerous minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium and copper.
This recipe recommends almond milk or cashew milk which adds extra nuttiness plus moistness and vegetable oil instead of butter to make it completely dairy-free. All the wet ingredients are mixed in a blender, which makes the process of preparing this quick-bread even faster. The recipe calls for one cup chopped pecans and is packed with spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. It also involves a glaze made with almond/cashew milk or heavy cream, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Don’t forget to add a few more toasted pecans on top.
Capture the almond flavor by choosing almond flour, almond extract, almond milk, or chopped and toasted almonds. Better yet, combine all of them to prepare one really nutty banana loaf.
Adding a handful of chopped walnuts to your standard banana bread will make it healthier, but incorporating it into a cheese-stuffed, chocolate chips coffee banana loaf is an offer that is very difficult to reject. It’s the most decadent and most delicious version of banana bread ever made. The deliciousness doesn’t stop here – the loaf has cinnamon walnut streusel, cream cheese filling, and vanilla glaze. I think that it is fair to say that this delight is a real cake!
Luscious Banana Bread
Preparing for a special occasion? The Walnut Banana Bread mentioned above is not the only mind-blowing alternative. A few simple ingredients like chocolate, caramel, or funfetti will transform your simple banana loaf into a decadent and delicious cake.
It is impossible to write about banana bread without mentioning chocolate. Chocolate is the easiest way to transform simple treats into real delights. Choosing dark chocolate will help you create a banana bread with double benefit – one that is absolutely delicious and good for you at the same time. Dark chocolate is known to be a powerful antioxidant, as well as an ingredient that boosts the brain functions and increases the energy levels. Let’s not forget the effect it has on our mood!
Simply adding chocolate chips is not enough to turn your banana bread into a divine cake. Why not make a triple chocolate banana bread? The batter is made with cocoa powder and chocolate chips. Then, the cake is covered with a chocolate glaze made of melted chocolate together with heavy cream.
Caramelize the bananas. To achieve that, melt a few tablespoons of butter in a hot pan and add a sliced banana. Next, add brown sugar and cook for about 10 minutes. Once the bananas are done, puree them with an electric mixer and add to the batter.
Cover this scrumptious loaf with sweetened condensed milk, also known as Dulce le leche. To prepare your own homemade Dulce le leche, pour some milk into a glass dish and cover with foil. Place the glass dish in a larger dish filled with hot water and bake at 425o F for about an hour. Cover the loaf richly!
- Funfetti Banana Bread
This recipe can be made with a Funfetti cake mix combined with eggs and mashed bananas, but since recipes made from scratch always taste better, prepare a standard banana bread batter and add colorful sprinkles inside. Choose a glaze to complement the bread with, add some more sprinkles, stick a candle, and blow!
Leftover Banana Bread
In case of leftovers, don’t fret, rely on your banana bread.
Take your yesterday’s bread and cut it in slices. Dip each slice in a mixture made out of eggs, milk, and vanilla, making sure both sides are well-coated. Then cook each side on a previously buttered hot frying pan until golden brown. Serve warm, covered with maple syrup.
The easiest way to save your unused banana bread from being thrown away in the garbage is to cover it in sauces and other toppings, then bake. For instance, try peanut butter and caramel sauce.
Start your day with an amazing mix made with banana bread slices whirled in a food processor until you obtain very fine crumbs. Mix this base with ripe banana, coconut milk, vanilla extract, and nutmeg.
Leftover Banana Bread Batter
Banana bread is everybody’s sweet treat but what if you overestimate your family’s eating capacity? You turn it into something even more delicious.
Pouring your banana bread batter into muffin pans will result in the cutest sweet treat. Make sure to fill the pans ¾ because the batter will rise during baking. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Top them with your favorite frosting or glaze.
Add only a cup of milk to the standard banana bread batter to make it runnier. All you need to do now is decide whether you will cook it in a pan or in a waffle maker.
Put a tablespoon of batter for each cookie on a nonstick sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Prepare your favorite frosting and spread on each cookie.