Mad Science Experiments In Banana Bread [updated]

by Paul Fischer

[Originally published Nov 12, 2009 @ 10:37]

Anyone who has a baby around knows that they love bananas. You also know babies can’t finish all the bananas you buy before they go brown, then spotted, and finally black. I think this child based excess of old bananas was the original source for the plethora of banana bread recipes. Regardless, my solution to stem the brown & black banana tide has been to make banana bread.
My original recipe for this comes from Bon Appetit Magazine. It’s called their Best Ever Banana Bread and what makes it best ever is copious amounts of fat and sugar. In our quest for a healthier recipe, I sought out one with much lower fat and sugar. After two false starts I settled on this recipe from Recipe Zaar.

The addition of the apple sauce adds a nice flavor and when I stumbled across granny smith apple sauce snack cups in the store, I decided to give that a try. The granny smith made a huge difference. It really adds an extra dimension to the banana bread, giving it just a little bit of sour tart taste. So, of course, I decided to punch that up with even more.

I ran into a problem when I decided to add two entire snack cups to the mix. This added a lot more fruit material and liquid. I’ve been compensating with an extra 1/2 cup of flour and a pinch more baking soda and baking powder. So far that seems to have corrected and made a better cake, but I think I still need to add more of them to make it the best yet.

I changed my mind on the GSAS (granny smith applesauce). I ran into problems with such a huge mixture. Now I only use extra GSAS to make up for a deficit in the available number of bananas.

I also changed the cooking method to cream the sugar and butter first. This made a fantastic difference in texture but only if the butter is at room temperature. Room temperature butter is very important. The BB is much lighter and fluffier now. I also triple the vanilla. I think everything needs much more vanilla than is in the recipe. I kept adding more and more vanilla until all I could taste was vanilla. This was too much. 1 Tablespoon of vanilla is about the maximum, but you may want less depending on your taste.

Another option, which I haven’t tried, would be to hold back one or two of the bananas, but I think that might change the taste too much. Given the way we go through bananas, I’m baking about one BB a week. So it won’t be long before I decide to try another variation.

If anyone knows of a source of granny smith apple sauce that doesn’t come in snack cups, please let me know by leaving a comment.

In the mean time, here’s the recipe as it stands:

  1. Cream softened butter and sugar together in a stand mixer for 5 minutes on medium.
  2. Add bananas into the bowl and mash for another 5 minutes on medium or until pulverized.
  3. Add all other wet ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add baking soda, baking powder and mix well.
  5. Add in flour in 1/2 cup batches until incorporated.
  6. Mix until smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape the sides. Do not overmix (You don’t want to make too much gluten which will make your banana bread tough as nails).
  7. Pour into a large greased loaf pan (or you can split it in half and use two smaller loaf pans).
  8. Pour into two greased 8 inch loaf pans.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.