Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Banana Bread

quickbananabread (2)

Banana bread is one of my favourite desserts. It was actually one of the first 'scratch' recipes I tried (the other being chocolate chip cookies) and the last until I got interested in baking again this past Christmas. I will never forget the first time I made banana bread because it was dry yet uncooked, soapy, chewy and definitely overmixed. Those were the days when I didn't know that the mixing order of ingredients actually mattered, the importance of whisking the flour mixture to distribute the baking soda evenly and when using a handmixer to be extra careful not to overmix. I remember baking 3 loaves before I finally gave up and settled for storebought desserts.

I've tried almost all the recipes from allrecipes.com, but the best version is definitely from Cook's Illustrated. You don`t need to lug out the mixer or anything fancy, just 2 bowls and good wide spatula so cleanup is quick and easy. It has suprisingly good butter flavour without the banana bread tasting like a cake and uses just enough bananas for strong flavour without turning the bread gummy. Most recipes use nuts or chocolate chips or neither, but I decided to put walnuts on one side and chocolate chips on the other so I could get both. This was actually the first time I used nuts in baking and enjoyed it more than I expected. I also used a bundt pan instead of the regular loaf pan so it took 40 minutes instead of the regular 55.


I wish I was able to take a picture of the entire cake, but I couldn't resist eating a slice.. well more like 3! My bananas were speckled, but I wanted them really really ripe so I put them in a baking pan and turned the oven to 150-200F for 20 minutes. The heat carmelizes the bananas, which helps to sweeten and add more banana flavour to the bread.

EDIT: My new favourite banana recipe can be found here. It is a little fluffier than this one by Cook's Illustrated, but if you like denser and chewier, I would say go with Cook's Illustrated.

Banana Bread
Cook's Illustrated, The New Best Recipe

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 1/4 cups walnuts, chopped coarse
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe, soft, darkly speckled large bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C) degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and walnuts together in a large bowl; set aside.

4. Mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla with a wooden spoon in a medium bowl. Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

5. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.)


  1. YUM!! Love that you used a bundt pan for it :0)

  2. That banana bread looks good! I like the bunt pan shaped banana bread.

  3. Way to bring back an old classic. I like how you said it was one of your 'starter' type recipes when you were younger. I think alot of us can agree with that.

  4. My husband loves banana bread. I like that you used the bundt better than the loaf pan. This is definitely a keeper.

  5. Oh yum! That banana bread looks both pretty and delicious!

  6. Lovely banana bread. Great tip on using the oven to sweeten the banana's beforehand. Yum!

  7. banana bread is a comfort food for me..lots of great childhood souvenirs :-) this is one yummy banana bread

  8. by the way, i would love to invite you and your delicious blog at recipe muncher.;that's in case you havent signed up yet :-)

  9. Banana bread IS my absolute favorite! This looks great!
    Cooks illustrated always yields great food!

  10. Hi Steph, you are amazing - this banana bread recipe saves my confidence in baking. I have baked many cakes but baking isn't my strength. I stumbled upon your site from Tastespotting and your post and great photos convinced me to try this recipe. I'm very glad I did because it turned out to be a success. This banana bread turned out moist, tender and soft. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!


  11. Hi! I was going to try the Silver Palate recipe, but I really like dense banana bread, so I decided to give this a try. I have made banana bread a bunch of times, and I always add about two extra bananas than called for to create that density.

    Cooks Illustrated (also America's Test Kitchen) has the best recipes. They are usually quite simple, and they seem to turn out perfectly each time. For the CI recipe, I followed everything except the following:
    1. I used one cup AP flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour
    2. I added 3T of ground flaxseed to the dry ingredients. (It adds omega-3s and is essentially undetectable).
    3. I sprinked about 2T brown sugar (granulated sugar also works well) on the top before baking. I know...adding flaxseed and more sugar? But I love the carmalized top, and so does everyone who eats my banana bread. Plus, most bb recipes call for 1 cup of sugar to the batter, so I do not feel bad. Or maybe I do, and that is why I am justifying it.
    Thanks for the tips!
    Angela EW



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