Classic banana bread is a family favorite and is easier to make than you think but there’s a secret ingredient needed to make the best moist banana bread.
It must be nice to be a banana bread. Everybody likes you. Even the people who hate bananas like banana bread. And it’s so easy to see why. There are few things as deliciously comforting than eating a slice of fresh banana bread slathered in butter. The thing is though, it often feels to me like my generation just don’t know how to bake a good banana bread. Most of our moms and pretty much all of our grandmothers knew the secrets but those secrets got lost along the way and I fear soon, our children, and their children, won’t know the joy of this simple bake at all.
But, fear no more because I am here. And I am not shy about sharing secrets (it’s probably best you don’t tell me any). The secret to really, REALLY good banana bread is rotten bananas. Yep, you read right. A slightly overripe banana will not do and don’t even bring a perfectly ripe banana near your banana bread batter. You want bananas with pretty much completely black skins. The blacker, the better. And that black skin is probably going to result in a pretty gross, mushy, almost slimy banana. Now I know, it’s not always easy to work with ingredients that are rotten (definitely never thought I would write that sentence), but be strong and just get on with it. Because the end result is SO worth it. The thing is that as a banana ages, and goes rotten, the sugars caramelise and that very banana flavour we are after, intensifies like you can’t imagine. One whiff of a banana that has gone off will tell you that. It’s pretty much like adding banana essence to your batter, without having to. If you are not keen on letting your bananas age on the windowsill, pop them into the freezer. The skins will go black and when you defrost them, they will be slimy as slimy can be. And that same process will have happened.
Then, something I have come across, is that it’s a good idea to use both baking soda (bicarb) AND baking powder. The two combined gives you the rise you are after and makes the banana bread a little lighter. Something that is definitely needed since there is so much moisture in the batter from the bananas. The baking soda will also result in that deep, dark brown colour that you are after. Because this batter is so heavy, you need to ensure that it has baked all the way through before you open the oven door (something I never get right, hence the ditch down the center of my loaf). This is really a very, very moist loaf of banana bread so drying out isn’t as much of a problem with over baking. Rather leave it an extra five minutes if you want that glorious rise but, if like me you just can’t wait, then go ahead and get that sucker out of the oven.
So, now you have the secrets you don’t have any excuse not to bake banana bread. And let’s face it, most of us have bananas ready to be binned in our homes so instead of doing that, turn it into this delightful loaf. It’s the right thing to do.
- 125g butter, room temperature
- 200g sugar
- 2 eggs
- 350g (rotten) bananas, mashed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 250g flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºc and grease and line a standard size loaf tin (around 20cmx12cm) with baking paper.
- In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Beat in the bananas. At this point, your batter will split and it will look like you've messed it up. You haven't, just keep going.
- Sift together the dry ingredients then stir into the batter.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf tin and place in the oven.
- Bake for 45 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cover with foil halfway to prevent over browning.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing the banana bread from the tin.
- Slice and serve.