Susan asked Lauren:
I’m dying to try your scone recipe since my family loves things like that (albeit a store-bought version…). We recently went to Jamaica for my kid’s spring break vacation and every morning we ate the MOST delicious banana bread. The kids went crazy for it. I used to make things like that but they always seemed dry and heavy and I just stopped. Would you happen to have a recipe for banana bread that will make my family as happy as they were when in Jamaica?
All kids love banana bread (so do most adults) and you certainly don’t have to go all the way to Jamaica to get that tropical, soothing flavor and dewy, melt in your mouth texture. First, though, Susan, let’s talk about your past experiences with making “quick” bread loaves, since it’s not uncommon for people to complain that their loaves, like yours, turned out “heavy and on the dry side.” The best banana breads (meaning, the ones with the lightest, moistest, texture) have three things in common, so let me take each component and explain their value and why.
Just Three Steps to a Great Banana Bread
One: Choose the right flour. Quick breads should be made with “bleached,” all-purpose flour. This is because the bleaching process lowers the overall protein content in the flour, which makes it less likely that the batter will become overly glutinous (elastic) after being mixed with wet ingredients. And, since a flour that’s higher in gluten also grabs (absorbs) more moisture, using a bleached flour, with a lesser amount of protein, will allow more moisture in your batter to be available to interact with the leavening (baking powder) and surrounding heat, when in the oven. This makes for an overall lighter texture in your baked banana bread.
Two: Bring eggs to a tepid temperature and add them slowly. Eggs provide both structure and moisture to the batter and, for the lightest texture, it’s best to bring their temperature up, when raw, to tepid (nice and warm). The best and safest way to do this is to submerge the whole eggs in a bowl of very hot tap water for 15 minutes. Then, after you’ve softened the butter and creamed it with your sugar until it’s very light, you’ll want to add the eggs one by one, only adding another after the previous one has been incorporated into the butter and sugar so well that the mixture takes on a very light color and a velvety texture (be patient, here).
Three: Use REALLY ripe bananas! The best banana breads, with the most pronounced banana flavor, are made with those bananas that you just might mistake for being over the hill. Bananas with skins that are a deep golden yellow, that are covered with tons of brown freckles are those to be prized for the job of creating the most wonderful banana breads. So, don’t throw out those really ripe bananas; use them, deliciously, to make what I consider to be one really Great Banana Bread!