This banana bread is perfectly moist without being dense. It's full of banana flavour and hits a couple more warm notes with a bit of cinnamon and a hint of maple. It's a quick, easy and flawless quick bread. This loaf is bananas.
I've been baking for a lot of years now, but the bane of my baking existence seems to be banana bread. I love banana bread, far more than I like bananas. Yet every time I try to make it, I end up with a swampy banana mush. I try to take each recipe disaster as a learning experience - an opportunity to tweak and balance some things out and figure out a solution. But my soft, cakey heart can only take so many "learning experiences" before running to my mother for help. So this post is courtesy of my mum and her perfect banana bread recipe.
Unfortunately, I can't leave anything alone and I did change a couple of things. I sub'd out the all-purpose flour for whole wheat, because kids, and I cut the sugar down by about 25%. Cory listened to a podcast on the evils of sugar this week and it gave him nightmares, so it was the least I could do for his sensitive mind. I also added a bit more flavour by way of vanilla extract, some cinnamon and a touch of maple extract. We'll call that one my *secret* ingredient for funsies.
Here's a couple tips. First of all, bananas. Never use a yellow banana for banana bread. The grosser it looks, the better suited it is for baking. As a banana turns brown, it becomes sweeter and sweeter as the starches turn to sugars. When my bananas reach a perfect squishy, speckled brown stage, I like to peel them, put them in sandwich bags and freeze them. (Too much ripening on the kitchen counter gets you an influx of fruit flies and other beasts.) When I need to use them, I pop the bananas in the microwave for 30-45 seconds (make sure your bags are microwave-safe, otherwise put them in a bowl) and then I can squish them up real good with my hands while they're still in the bag. Never touch a limp, slimy banana again!
So a bit about whole wheat flour.. It's usually the last kid to be picked for the team in the baking world. It's a much healthier choice than white flour, but it is anything but equal. Whole wheat flour is coarse and grainy, in stark contrast to the smooth softness of white flour. Because it contains all the components of the grain, it will absorb a ton more moisture than white flour, typically leaving a baked good dry, heavy and tough. In some applications, whole wheat flour can replace up to 50% of all-purpose without causing too much damage, but in this recipe I wanted to swap it out altogether. To try to compensate for the change, I added some applesauce for extra moisture that would absorb slowly (as opposed to just throwing in some milk or water, that's not gonna do it.) Plus, the addition of applesauce should lend a bit of sweetness where I subtracted some sugar. Win-win! Thanks, apples.
One more tip and then you can read the recipe already. Before baking, drag a spoon down the middle of the batter. Go fairly deep because it will flood back in. This will help the loaf to bake a bit more evenly and, as a bonus, will also ensure that rustic, home-made appearance on the top of your loaf.
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