Why it works
- Ripe but not overripe bananas give structure to the dough, so that the baked bread is fluffy and light.
- Oatmeal thickens the dough and improves moisture retention, making bread that rises higher and lasts longer than bread made with all-purpose flour alone.
- Nutmeg and cloves are high in eugenol, the same compound that gives ripe bananas their distinctive flavor and aroma, deepening the banana flavor of bread.
- Because coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it gives banana bread a particularly rich but buttery crumb.
Let me say this in no uncertain terms: you make excellent banana bread. Filled with honey and nuts or chocolate chips and pecans, or just plain, each loaf is as deliciously distinct as the person who baked it, and I have no doubts that yours ranks among the best.
I don’t come here claiming to have better banana bread than yours; just a list of ingredient adjustments to elevate the recipe you already love. And if you’re looking for a new recipe, of course I’m happy to lend you mine.
Here are eight simple steps I use to improve my banana bread.
Step 1: Toast the sugar
Okay, if you’ve been cooking with me for a while, you’ve probably seen this one coming – I’ve been obsessed with toasted sugar for quite some time. For this application, you don’t need to invest in the full five hour process. In fact, banana bread is good, much better with slightly toasted sugar. We talk for an hour, great.
That’s all you need to supplement the natural sweetness of the sugar and achieve a subtle caramelization to really make bananas pop. Unlike switching to brown sugar or turbinado, using toasted sugar won’t change the underlying chemistry of the dough. This means that there are no weird surprises when it comes to rising or browning; just a simple boost to the taste of the bread you already love.
Step 2: Use coconut oil
Most banana bread recipes call for oil instead of butter, largely because the oil has more fat per ounce, which makes it particularly rich and moist. But liquid oils can sometimes make banana bread heavy and moist, or just a little oily. This is where coconut oil comes in. It makes banana bread as rich and chewy as any other, but since it’s solid at room temperature, it offers a slow-melting richness that. more like butter.
The tropical aroma of virgin coconut oil can amplify the fruity and floral taste of bananas in a major way, but if you don’t like the flavor of coconut, look for coconut oil instead. refined coconut. It has all of the same properties as virgin coconut oil, without the tropical vibe.
If you have a recipe that calls for butter, try adding a spoonful of coconut oil to the batter to protect your bread from drying out.
Step 3: Use perfectly ripe bananas
Green bananas are so high in starch and low in sugar that they can make banana bread crumbly, with an astringency that dries the mouth. Yellow bananas contain a mixture of sugar and starch that will produce a wonderfully light and chewy bread, while those that are completely black can make a dense and somewhat gummy bread. (They can also make the dough too thin, causing rising problems.)
For this reason, I like bananas that are just starting to turn spotty and brown, or greenish to yellow bananas âripened at speedâ for 30 minutes with one or two egg yolks.
Step 4: Toast the nuts
Ever since I grew up in the south, it’s impossible for me to imagine banana bread without pecans, but whether you prefer nuts or sunflower seeds, be sure to toast them before you start.
Not only does the toasting bring out their nutty flavor more, it ensures that the pieces stay crisp despite being soaked in a moisture-rich dough. Raw nuts tend to soften over time, becoming mealy and moist in bread.
Step 5: Use whole grain flour
Do not confuse this with a favorable diet decision; whole grain flour can absorb (and hold) more water than any use, and it accomplishes three things. First, it allows the paste to accommodate more mashed bananas without turning into soup. Second, it creates a thicker paste, which results in a more attractive peak. Third, it helps prevent bread from drying out, improving its texture and shelf life.
Whole wheat flour and buckwheat flour have a particular affinity for bananas, but I have a soft spot for the comforting flavor of oatmeal, which can replace up to 25% all-purpose flour by weight. in your favorite recipe. While you could technically grind oatmeal in a food processor, this DIY approach doesn’t give you the chewy sweetness that commercially ground oatmeal can lend to a bread. I love to buy Bob’s Red Mill wholesale online, but if you don’t mind paying for the convenience, grab the brand you find at the store.
Step 6: use Greek yogurt
Banana bread recipes usually call for buttermilk, or milk and lemon juice, to help acidify the dough. Because it’s so much thicker, plain Greek yogurt (whether whole or skimmed) is actually a much better choice, as thicker pasta peaks more in the oven, for a well rounded rather than flat bread.
Step 7: use nutmeg and cloves
Most recipes keep it simple in the spice department, adding a little more than a hint of cinnamon and vanilla. It’s not that I want my banana bread to pass for a pumpkin and spice latte, but increasing the spice blend can actually intensify the natural flavor of the banana.
As bananas ripen, much of their characteristic flavor and aroma comes from the development of a compound called eugenol. Baking dampens its flavor, which is why banana bread rarely tastes as intense as dough. By tampering with our favorite recipe with spices high in eugenol, like cloves and nutmeg, we can alleviate some of this loss. When made with finesse, the result is not a particularly spicy bread, but a bread that seems more banana. In my experience, an eighth of a teaspoon of grated nutmeg and just under a quarter of a teaspoon of ground cloves per four ounces of bananas is perfect.
Step 8: make banana whipped cream
See. No one will complain about a warm slice of banana bread topped with butter, but swap it for a generous layer of banana whipped cream and people will start singing right away. Simply mix sugar and freeze-dried bananas in a food processor, grind until you get a powder, then finish with cream.
You can do this for any type of fruity whipped cream; for a banana bread filling, be sure to toss the cream a few more times to create an even thicker, buttery-like spread with a rich banana flavor. (Don’t process it too long, or you’ll end up with a curdled mess.)
Step 9: use a thermometer
The last thing you can use to step up your banana bread game is not an ingredient but a technique: test for doneness with a digital thermometer.
The deep golden color of the crust won’t change much after the bread has baked for an hour, making it difficult to track its progress. And while there’s nothing wrong with the old jab-it-with-a-toothpick test, a digital thermometer provides a much more objective frame of reference.
Of course, the internal temperature that produces the texture you prefer may not be the same as mine (I like the result of 206 Â° F / 97 Â° C banana bread), but at least you never wonder if your bread is baked or not.
So whether your bananas are golden yellow or just a little green, what are you waiting for? It’s time to bake America’s favorite bread.