the moveable feasts

(My) Best Banana Bread

with 50 comments

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There are some things that mothers have a monopoly on in the kitchen. I’m sure you know what I mean–they have those recipes that only they make in their way, and it cannot be replicated nor outdone by any other recipe. It’s different for every mother, but they’ve always got that something. For my mom, it’s bran muffins, cilantro chicken salad, “ozette” bars (a peanut butter-oat bar my siblings and I used to scarf down before and after swim practices), and (previously) banana bread.

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Yes, I’m sorry mom, but your banana bread recipe has been ousted. But mind you, this is no small feat! I’m pretty sure my mom has used the recipe out of her big Betty Crocker encyclopedia of cooking for as long as I’ve been alive, but really it is a banana bread to contend with. Ever since I’ve had an interest in cooking I’ve scanned through countless banana bread recipes, trying to find one that could compete with hers. I bring out my fancy looking baking books and execute the recipe exactly as directed, only to find a banana bread not quite so moist, not as flavorful, with a crumb not as smooth.

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looks like too much dry ingredients... but voila! all comes together

Part of this is just because what your mom makes is what you’re used to. Of course you’re not going to like a fancy, doctored-up banana bread if the version from your childhood that your mom made was the exact opposite. But still, mine wasn’t beating hers, by a landslide. I figured it was that “mom” thing and that I might as well give up and enjoy her betty crocker banana bread loafs whenever she made them and that would be that.

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That is, until I was left with three rapidly decaying bananas my housemate was unable to eat. After researching recipes to the high heavens, I decided to give it another try. I ended up carrying out the original recipe for “Best Banana Bread” from Cook’s Illustrated–not their “ultimate” banana bread with however-many-five-or-six bananas it calls for (I did, by the way, try this recipe out in the long history of trying to beat my mom’s. It didn’t impress me). I added in toasted walnuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on top, but otherwise I didn’t alter the recipe. The cinnamon sugar was a remnant from my mom’s version that I just can’t shake. It just makes banana bread that much better.

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What I was left with was … well, better than my mom’s. That says a lot. It’s my favorite banana bread I’ve ever had: sticky moist, sweet and satisfying, a “hearty and smooth” crumb (as Cook’s says), and a real, underlying banana flavor. This is the recipe I’m going to turn to every time I have a few past-their-prime bananas to cope with, and who knows? Maybe even one day this will turn into “my” recipe that my kids (eek! far far in the future) won’t be able to beat.

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Best Banana Bread
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

As noted below, toasted nuts, and a cinnamon-sugar topping are completely optional (although I think you’d be crazy to skip out on the cinnamon-sugar part). Feel free to add in anything extra–I love a good 1/2 cup of bittersweet chips thrown into the batter. ¬†Also, as always noted, make sure your bananas are really, really, really ripe for best results. It’s better to wait than end up with so-so banana bread.

260 grams (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
150 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped coarse (optional)
3 very ripe, large bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
80 grams (1/3 cup) plain yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
85 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of regular (not nonstick) 9-by-5 inch loaf pan, or grease and flour bottom and sides of nonstick 9-by-5-inch loaf pan; set aside. Combine first five (flour through walnuts, if using) ingredients together in large bowl; set aside.

Mix mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla with wooden spoon in medium bowl. Lightly fold banana mixture into dry ingredients with rubber spatula until just combined and batter looks thick and chunky–it might look at first like there is too much dry ingredients and not enough liquid, but don’t fret! It will come together, just keep folding gently but consistently. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan; sprinkle cinnamon-sugar topping evenly over top. Bake until loaf is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 55 minutes to an hour. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature (or cold, I like that especially).

a look at the inside

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Written by Amy

October 9, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Posted in Breads

Tagged with , ,

50 Responses

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  1. I think I tried this recipe once – very good (yours looks better, though!) – looks like just the right mix of sticky, jammy sweetness that I love about banana bread.

    Sara

    October 10, 2011 at 6:44 pm

  2. I LOVE banana bread…I always buy extra bananas just so I have some left over to use in baking. Your recipe looks absolutely delicious – sticky, moist and very moreish!

    thelittleloaf

    October 11, 2011 at 4:37 am

  3. Oh, my love for banana bread is a little beyond reason. I love it with raspberries studded through it as well (and once I tried it with a latte instead of yogurt/ milk in the batter- it made for an interesting flavour combination)

    Tori @eat-tori

    October 11, 2011 at 9:03 am

  4. This is such a cute story. Sounds like you have a banana bread to compete with. Looks great because honestly, what isn’t better with chocolate? Good advice about waiting for your bananas to really brown. You are right, I think it makes all the difference.

    greenthyme

    October 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm

  5. This looks amazing! Is there anything better than banana bread? Oh…yes! Banana bread with chocolate in it!! :-)

    Ruth

    October 12, 2011 at 1:28 am

  6. It is amazing how certain ways of having certain foods are so ingrained in us that no alternative will do! Glad you found your perfect banana bread though! :)

    erin

    October 12, 2011 at 5:56 am

  7. Cinnamon sugar–sounds like a great addition to banana bread. I’ll have to try it the next time I make some. I know what you mean about things you can never manage to make better than your mother. I’m still perfecting my apple-pie-making skills, for instance.

    I’m a little confused by your loaf pan specification in the recipe. What do you mean by a “regular loaf pan”? I thought a 9 x 5 was a regular loaf pan.

    Katie

    October 12, 2011 at 10:56 am

    • Oh you’re right, that is confusing. Yeah (as far as I know) that’s a regular loaf pan, not sure why the original instructions sound so wonky. I think it’s just meant to distinguish between regular or non-stick loaf pans. I just edited it, so hopefully it’s clearer now–thanks for pointing it out. :D

      Amy

      October 12, 2011 at 11:26 am

      • Hey Amy,

        Do you have a recipe for the “ozette” bars?

        Thanks!

        Sherri Glenn

        October 20, 2013 at 10:40 am

  8. Hmmm… It sure looks amazing! I’m tempted to give this a high expectation! (you should let your mom try some of this! have a bake-off like Gordon Ramsay did with his mom!)

    Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen

    October 12, 2011 at 8:47 pm

  9. You win. This recipe is perfection. It is now my official go-to banana bread recipe. Thanks for this amazing deliciousness that you helped me create.

    Tabytha

    February 26, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    • Ah thanks Tabytha for trying it out. I’m glad you like the recipe as much as I do (it’s definitely become my go-to banana bread recipe, too).

      Amy

      February 26, 2012 at 4:45 pm

  10. That banana bread looks so yummy! I absolutely love banana bread and I am going to be trying this recipe very soon, with cinnamon sugar topping and all. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Texaslifemilitarywife

    March 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm

  11. I was confused about combining the “first six ingrediants together”. The bananas wouldnt be included in this right?

    Heidi

    April 2, 2012 at 7:11 am

    • Oh you’re right — it should say the first 5 ingredients. Sorry about that, and thanks for pointing out my error!

      Amy

      April 2, 2012 at 7:33 am

  12. I was sooo excited to try this recipe for my family (banana bread disgusts me, but I love my family :-)) and I’m sure it would’ve turned out beautifully if I hadn’t forgotten the baking soda! DOH! I’ll definitely try this again. The cinnamon/sugar topping is a great addition! Thanks for sharing!

    Jen

    April 5, 2012 at 8:02 am

  13. I am a HUGE banana brea fan, so I will definitely be trying this! Thank you for the recipe.

    Jasmine

    April 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm

  14. This is great recipe! Tried it last night.. all I had on hand was greek yogurt. no problem! The bread has a great, moist texture.. cinnamon topping was the best idea!! Thank you

    Tamra

    April 21, 2012 at 6:30 am

    • Thanks Tamra! I’m glad you liked it — and the cinnamon topping is my favorite part. :)

      Amy

      April 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm

  15. This is absolutely the best banana bread recipe I’ve ever had the privilege to make and eat! My family fell in Love with it! this is now our family banana bread recipe!

    Jacque P.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:24 am

    • Thanks so much, Jacque! It’s definitely “my” banana bread recipe now too, there’s no point in even trying out any other recipes for me. :) So glad you and your family loved it!

      Amy

      April 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm

  16. I only had 2 bananas so I added some pumpkin puree to sub for the 3rd banana. It is in the oven right now. Hope it turns out good!

    Tanya

    May 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm

  17. just made it but used whole wheat flour & light sour cream instead of yogurt(it was on hand) and it is now saved in my favorites :) thanks so much for sharing! the cinammon sugar topping is so simple and so delicious!!!

    allie

    June 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm

  18. Made this yesterday, super delicious! the topping is my new favorite!

    Meredith

    July 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm

  19. Why am I not seeing the chocolate in the ingredient list? How much did you use? I love chocolate in banana bread but my husband does not…but I figure if I am making it, he will just have to live with it!

    Sheila

    August 21, 2012 at 9:01 am

    • Oh, whoops! I’ve re-made this banana bread (without adding chocolate) since first posting it and re-did the photos– hence why you don’t see chocolate chips in the photos. Sorry about that confusion, I’ve fixed that in my post now! I used about 2 and 1/2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate chips, or about a heaping 1/2 cup. I say add it in! :)

      Amy

      August 21, 2012 at 2:16 pm

  20. Wow-wee! Just made your recipe- Absolutely the best I’ve made. I vow to never make a banana loaf without that cinnamon sugar sprinkling on top ever again! Thank you so much for sharing :)

    Kereena

    October 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    • I’m so glad to hear you love the recipe! Yeah, I can never do without the cinnamon sugar topping on my banana bread, it’s just too good! Thanks for commenting, Kereena.

      Amy

      October 16, 2012 at 3:36 pm

  21. Where is the printable recipe?

    Bernice Valerio

    October 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    • Sorry Bernice, as of now I don’t have a “printable recipe” option. I’d recommend you just copying and pasting the recipe into a Word document.

      Amy

      October 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm

  22. cannot copy and paste

    Annette Fisher

    October 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm

  23. Just made this recipe for banana bread. It was yummy and very moist. Only thing it wasn’t as brown as the picture. Maybe I should leave our next batch a lil longer in the oven. Also I used vanilla yogurt instead of plain yogurt “). I recommend others to try this recipe “)

    Sonya

    October 30, 2012 at 11:22 pm

  24. Holy dense, rich deliciousness! This is officially my new banana bread recipe. I love the use of yogurt. I cut back the sugar to 1/2 cup and skipped the cinnamon sugar topping. (Sorry, I know that’s your favorite part!) Thanks for sharing!

    Lucy

    January 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm

  25. Seriously i’v been trying to make my mothers recipe for years and always fail with a mushy centre, this recipe is (dont tell her) lighter and and crustyer and still as moist! I’m IN LOVE!!!!! I will never use another recipe for banana bread again. THANK YOU

    Alesha

    January 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm

  26. I found your recipe about 1 yr ago and have been using it ever since. I love banana bread, but your recipe is definitely gourmet! I even sometimes sprinkle some coconut flakes in the batter as well as on top, along with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Thank you! LOVE this recipe!

    MelissaJ

    February 13, 2013 at 9:01 am

    • Thanks for commenting, Melissa! Glad it’s become a trusty stand-by. And I love the idea of adding in coconut flakes–with a handful of chocolate chips perhaps? :)

      Amy

      February 13, 2013 at 2:23 pm

  27. I tried taking this recipe and adapting it to muffins — be VERY careful! I thought I’d just halve the time it takes as a loaf… 20 minutes was waaay too long! 12-15 minutes was the sweet spot, took a few tries to figure out how not to burn the bottoms. Still delicious anyway! Good, moist, awesome recipe!

    Chrizzly Bear

    February 13, 2013 at 4:47 pm

  28. I loved this! As the vegetable oil I decided to use coconut oil, and the hint of coconut in these was delicious!

    Paula

    February 20, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    • Ooh nice idea! I’ll have to try that sometime. Thanks for commenting, Paula, and I’m glad you liked the recipe. :)

      Amy

      February 20, 2013 at 2:46 pm

  29. It has been forever and a day since I made banana bread and decided to check Pinterest for a new recipe. Tried this and have already had two pieces fresh out of the oven! Absolutely delicious, the cinnamon/sugar on top is genus! Thanks for sharing!

    Jen

    April 14, 2013 at 6:09 pm

  30. I have this in the oven right now. Hope it turns out….I accidentally doubled the yogurt.

    Kathy

    April 21, 2013 at 11:23 am

    • Turned out really good!!

      Kathy

      April 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm

  31. Mine did not turn out as well :(. Not sure what I did wrong, but I just don’t seem to have as much luck baking things. My batter did not rise anywhere near as much as your did.

    Liz Lemonds

    November 3, 2013 at 6:59 pm

  32. Thanks for correcting your recipe, per comments posted — so many bloggers don’t and I dislike that — really don’t want to read comments [especially if long, to find answers] — keep those great recipes coming! :)

    Got from… “My Honeys Place” site.

    Sandy_of_WV

    December 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm

  33. Best Banana Bread themoveablefeasts 12.18.13
    Thanks for correcting your recipe, per comments posted — so many bloggers don’t and I dislike that — really don’t want to read comments [especially if long, to find answers] — keep those great recipes coming! :)

    Got from… “My Honeys Place” site.

    Sandy_of_WV

    December 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm

  34. Read it…baked it…loved it! No offense to Mom, but your 2.0 version is the best I’ve ever made or eaten!
    Bravo!

    Vanessa

    January 8, 2014 at 3:24 pm

  35. I was going make this recipe using grams but the amount of grams it says for the flour is not equal to 2 cups. Just thought you’d like to know. Thanks.

    Camilla

    August 11, 2014 at 7:02 am

    • yikes, looks like I forgot to double the amount for two cups. Thanks for catching that error!

      Amy

      August 11, 2014 at 10:08 pm


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