5 Foolproof Ways to Bake Even Better Banana Bread
If you’ve ever intentionally let your bananas overripen so you have no choice but to bake a loaf of banana bread, this one’s for you.
Is it just me, or is everyone in America baking it right now?
Apparently, it’s not just me. According to Google Trends, searches for ‘banana bread’ reached an all-time high last week in the United States. And why not? Banana bread checks all the comforting baked good boxes: it’s sweet, soothing, and saves once-fresh fruit from ruin. And unlike other popular pandemic baking projects—like homemade yeasted breads or from-scratch sourdough starter—banana bread bares almost no intimidation factor. Whether you’re Mary Berry or never baked a day in your life, you can probably pull it off. That being said, there are a number of easy ways you can upgrade your loaf to nail that perfectly moist-and-tender texture. Here are our top tips to try next time you bake banana bread.
Use ripe—but not too ripe—bananas.
Ideally, the bananas should have a yellow peel with an even distribution of brown speckles all over. No green; no rot. As bananas ripen, they develop a sweeter flavor and softer texture that’ll lend your loaf a more moist, rich mouthfeel. If you’d like to plan ahead and speed up the ripening process of your bananas, see our guide here.
Be meticulous about your mixing and measuring.
Both the wet ingredients (like butter, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, bananas) and the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and leavening agents like baking soda and/or baking powder) need to be beaten thoroughly in order to create the ideal moist, fluffy—i.e. neither sunken nor heavy—texture. To really go above and beyond, weigh out your ingredients, flour in particular, to make sure you nail the just-right proportions. Also, allow your butter to come to room temperature before mixing it in so it’ll more readily whip into an airy texture.
Experiment with different types of sugar and flour.
Most recipes will call for a combination of brown sugar and white granulated sugar. If you prefer a darker, more rich and molasses-y bread, use a greater amount of dark brown sugar in place of white. Same goes with flour: all-purpose is the most common, but if you’d like a lighter loaf, sub in some cake flour. If you’d like to boost the nutritional value of your bread, you can also use entirely whole-wheat flour or a combination of white and wheat, like in our recipe for healthy banana bread (keep in mind that your bread will have a more dense texture).
Don’t overmix the batter.
One of the biggest but easiest-to-make mistakes you make when baking banana bread is beating your wet and dry ingredients together into oblivion. Tempting as it is—especially for those of us who love a solid stress-baking session—this is a surefire way to overdevelop the gluten in your batter, which will give your loaf a too-tough texture. When you’re ready to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients together, create a shallow well in the center of your dry flour mixture and pouring the wet over it. Then use a rubber spatula or spoon to gently fold the wet and dry ingredients together until the flour is just moistened. If there are a few lumps left behind in the batter, resist the urge to pummel them (and for next time, remind yourself that you can release any pent-up rage when creaming the butter and sugar together instead).
Go nuts (and chocolate) with toppings.
Choose a crunchy nut, like walnuts, and give them a little toasting treatment in a skillet before you add them to your batter. We also recommend chopping a bar of chocolate or using chocolate chunks rather than chips, as they’ll give you a heavier hit of crunchy-sweet when you bite in. And as with the tip above, fold them in gently.