The best banana bread is soft and tender, with plenty of banana flavor and a delicate crunch from toasted walnuts. It should be soft and not overly heavy. There’s no better way to use overripe bananas! This banana bread recipe hits all the right notes.
If you’re new to bread baking, quick breads are a great place to start. Many people probably think of banana bread as more of a cake, and it can certainly fall into that category due to the sweetness of the bananas. However, technically it’s what’s known as a quick bread.
Other examples of quick breads include buttermilk biscuits, cornbread, and beer bread. As with other quick breads, banana bread is incredibly easy. There’s no yeast, kneading, or rising involved. You just mix and bake.
Which bananas are best for banana bread?
You want to use older, darkly speckled bananas. These will be the sweetest, and they’ll add the most moisture to the bread. Sure, you can get away with mashing less ripe bananas, but you’ll be able to taste the difference in the final product.
Can sour cream, buttermilk or milk be substituted for the yogurt?
Yes, any of these can be substituted, but yogurt will give the best results according to Cook’s Illustrated, who tested all of these ingredients in banana bread. According to them:
- Sour cream adds richness, but makes the bread too heavy.
- Milk does nothing to enhance the flavor and creates an oddly slick crust.
- Buttermilk adds a nice tang, but it takes away from the banana flavor more than yogurt does.
So you can use them in this recipe, but I recommend sticking with yogurt.
Try Banana Bread Muffins!
- 1 1/4 cups walnuts (150g)
- 10 ounces all-purpose flour (285g, approximately 2 1/4 cups)
- 5 1/4 ounces granulated sugar (150g, 3/4 cup)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups very ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 medium)
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup part-skim or full fat plain yogurt (2oz, 58g)
- 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Place an oven rack in the lower middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with baking spray or butter and flour (tapping out the excess flour).
- Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet, and toast, stirring once or twice, until the nuts are fragrant and have slightly darkened in color, 7-10 minutes. Allow to cool and then chop finely.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, kosher salt and chopped walnuts. In a separate medium or large bowl, use a spatula to combine the bananas, eggs, yogurt, butter and vanilla extract.
- Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined and no flour patches remain. The batter will look chunky because of the bananas. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center and the top is a deep, golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Leftovers can be stored at room temperature, covered, for 3-4 days.
You can save time by purchasing pre-toasted walnuts.
- Banana-Chocolate Bread: reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons, and add 2 1/2 ounces grated bittersweet chocolate to the dry ingredients (approximately 1/2 cup).
- Banana Bread with Sour Cream: swap the 1/4 cup yogurt with 1/4 cup sour cream
- Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips: add 1 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips to the dry ingredients
Adapted from The New Best Recipe, by Cook's Illustrated Magazine
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