Thank you for buying 15 overly ripe bananas in an attempt to save money, but then deciding that they were too fragile for your three and a half hour carride back to the middle of no where. This is one of those moments where I’m glad I’m an only child because as such, I get to inherit all 15 of them in their blackened glory.
Just kidding. I was actually really excited. Most times, I don’t get a chance to make banana bread because I never have enough bananas that overripe. Bananas are just so versatile in general. Sometimes, I’ll throw them into the blender for a smoothie for the commute. Other times, I’ll bring them to work and drizzle them in honey and almond butter. It’s become a rare occasion where I’ll have at least three left at the end of the week to make bread, let alone 15!! Okay, they were small, so technically it was like 7 bananas. But still!
So I took this opportune moment to do what I’ve always wanted to do. Experiment! Now that I can afford all the butter, eggs, and sugar I desire (courtesy of my paycheck), I’m hoping I can do more of these.
There are so many banana bread recipes out there, most of them producing equally delicious results. But “delicious” is very subjective and two things can be delicious in different ways, can’t they?
I wanted to see the effect of melting/creaming butter as well as using yogurt/omitting yogurt. Hence, I took a recipe from Baking Illustrated, which is a compilation of dozens upon dozens of tested recipes. In other words, the book is based on scientific proof and various rounds of experimenting. The other recipe was from Allrecipe.com that was favorite-d over 99,000 times! It was a competition between the tastebuds of the mass public and science.
The following recipes each make one standard 9 x 5 loaf.
Left: Baking Illustrated Banana Bread / Right: Allrecipe Banana Banana Bread
Baking Illustrated Banana Bread:
This bread makes use of yogurt and less butter. But even more surprising is how the butter is incorporated. Here are some quick conclusions the authors came up when they were formulating the “perfect” banana bread recipe.
- Condition of bananas: The more overripe the banana, the more sweet and moist it is. Hence, less butter (2 tablespoons worth). Most recipes call for 1/2 cup of butter or 1 stick, which is exactly what was used in the other recipe.
- Mash or puree the bananas?: Mash by hand for sure. You may get chunks, but pureeing the banana makes them too watery for the bread to rise. Use a fork to mash the bananas so that the big chunks are gone. It should be a thick, smooth consistency.
- What type of dairy to use? Milk? Sour Cream? Buttermilk? Yogurt?: Use yogurt. Milk creates a slick crust. Sour cream adds a richness but makes the texture heavy. The loaves also tend to be a bit more unattractive because they come out pebbly. Buttermilk adds a nice tang but yogurt does the job better.
- Mixing method of butter: Creaming the butter creates a soft texture with good volume but the color of the bread comes out lighter and less appealing. Instead, melt the butter, which will produce a delicate texture. The loaf overall will rise more.
Another worthy tip is the amount of time dedicated to mixing the dry ingredients with the wet. Flour contains protein and and when protein mixes with moisture, it’ll make gluten. That’s why if you over-mix, the loaves will not only turn out smaller, but they’ll also be tough. Gluten is great for doughs that you don’t want to change shape, but it also means the bread won’t rise as well. So mix with a spatula until the flour is just incorporated.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups walnuts, chopped coarse (optional)
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups very ripe, soft, darkly speckled large bananas, mashed well (~3 bananas)
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 2 large eggs, beaten lightly
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (3/4 stick)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease the bottom/sides of a 9 by 5 loaf pan. If your walnuts aren’t toasted, spread them on a baking sheet and toast them until fragrant for 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and walnuts together in a large bowl. Set aside
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. The batter should look thick and chunky. Scrape into the loaf pan.
Bake for just under 60 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes then eat! You can keep this bread for up to 3 days if properly wrapped in plastic wrap.
Banana Banana Bread taken from Allrecipes
With 99,458 favorites, clearly you can’t go wrong with a recipe like this. Many people commented that though very dense and banana-y, it’s a winner with the crowds. Instead of using regular granulated sugar, this recipe uses brown sugar. It also calls for creaming the sugar into the butter. The recipe did not use milk, sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt.
Some people felt that the 2 1/3 cups of mash banana made for too dense a bread. I was afraid of the bread not rising properly, so I used 2 cups, which is just half a cup more than the other recipe. I also added a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Banana Banana Bread
Adapted from Allrecipes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups mashed overripe bananas
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs, vanilla extract, and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
The conclusion? Despite the backing of the popular mass, I thought the Banana Bread from Baking Illustrated (BI) won by a landslide.
- Texture: The BI bread was lighter and the bread rose beautifully with that desired crack on the middle of the loaf. It was fluffy and airy. It was as if that 2 tablespoons of butter really made a difference. The Allrecipes bread was dense and although moist, it didn’t have the same delicateness as the BI bread.
- Greasiness: The Allrecipes bread seemed as if it was leaking butter. You could tell as you were cutting the bread on the board. Grease from the butter just saturated the parchment paper. The BI bread? Not so much. This leads me to believe that the melting and cooling of the better really does create a better result. I mean how much of a difference could two extra tablespoons make?!
- Taste: This is tougher because both were equally delicious. Of course, the Allrecipe bread was a bit more banana-y, but not by much despite having half a cup more. You could definitely taste more butter in the Allrecipe bread. You could taste a bit of the tang from the yogurt in the BI bread, which I really liked.
And then, I was left with all this banana bread. Don’t worry, I only had HALF A SLICE of each and I’m giving them ALL away tomorrow! Looks like I’m going to defeat the purpose of beach volleyball tomorrow night!