I’m a fanna banana bread

Bananas on oatmeal. The banana split. Banana Turkish Taffy (remember that?). Banana cream pie. Heck, mashed bananas right out of the Gerber’s baby food jar… Is there an American alive today who didn’t encounter the ubiquitous banana numerous times during childhood? But never mind childhood: the banana is the most popular fruit in America today. Pretty amazing, for a fruit that’s commercially grown in only a single American state: Hawaii.

Think about it: apples, berries, peaches, watermelon, all are grown in lots of states across the country. But the banana? Here are a couple of facts that might surprise you: Bananas are America’s #1 fruit. And they aren’t grown commercially in the continental United States. That’s right: every banana we slice onto our cornflakes is brought in from across the sea. And since every American enjoys an average of 28 pounds of bananas a year (and 96% of American households purchase bananas at least once a month), that’s one heck of a lot of bananas being shipped onto our shores (mainly from India, the world’s largest producer of bananas).

Which leads me to one of my favorite comfort foods, banana bread. Beloved of beginning bakers everywhere, this retro classic has been fancied up over the years with outlandish spices, an array of nuts, other fruits, sometimes even icing. But at the end of the day, my favorite version is still the original mahogany brown, moist/crumbly, aromatic bread of my youth.

The aroma and deep flavor of ripe bananas dominate this loaf; a scattering of nuts (walnuts or pecans only, please) give it textural contrast. I’ve been known to warm banana bread gently, and spread it with butter (or even cream cheese). But truth to tell, it’s just as good eaten plain and cold. And how many breads can make that claim?

Here’s my favorite Banana Bread recipe. We’ve been developing recipes for a new section of our online recipe site, Guaranteed Classics—due to debut later this summer—and this is the first recipe I nominated for inclusion. Classic? What could be more so than Banana Bread?
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The first thing you need to know about banana bread is this: use over-ripe bananas. The riper the bananas, the more banana flavor your bread will have. These are just barely ripe enough for banana bread. If you have any bananas that are way beyond slicing onto your cereal, they’re PERFECT for banana bread.

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The next thing you’ll do is mash the bananas. Easiest way is to put them in a zip-top bag, leaving it open about 1/2” at the top for air to escape.

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Flatten and squeeze with your hands till the bananas are mashed up.

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Let’s start with butter, sugar, spices, leavening, and salt—sounds good to me!

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Beat till well combined.

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Beat in the mashed bananas, jam, honey, and eggs. The mixture won’t be smooth; don’t fret. Keep beating.

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We’re about to add the “secret ingredient”—

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King Arthur Flour! Flour makes the (baking) world go ’round. Stir in the nuts along with the flour.

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Spread the fairly thick batter in a lightly greased 9” x 5” loaf pan.

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Put the bread in the oven, and watch those leaveners make it rise!

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Craggy, some might say homely, but eminently satisfying, we give you: Banana Bread!

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OK, let’s back up a bit. If you have a scale, there’s no need to mash the bananas before using them. Just chunk up 12 ounces of peeled bananas, and add them along with the jam, eggs, etc.

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And, here’s the bread using two different flours: King Arthur White Whole Wheat at the top, and King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose at the bottom. Notice the all-purpose flour loaf rose a tiny bit more; but other than that, they’re indistinguishable, including taste-wise. This is definitely a good opportunity to get some whole wheat flour into your family’s diet.

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Finally, here’s the same loaf baked in a 12” x 4” tea loaf pan, which makes a longer, slimmer loaf. With smaller pieces—nice for those of us on the constant diet…

Check out our recipe for Banana Bread.

And check out my daffodils:

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Warm, sunny days—a whole weekend in the ’70s, incredibly unusual for this time of the year up in our neck of the woods—brought my daffodils out in full force. If you don’t have blooming daffodils in your yard, be my guest—enjoy these!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. M.

    More of a question, than a comment…

    I love banana bread, and have tried several recipes. Most of the time, they come out very well, but on a few occasion, the bottom 1/3 come out very moist and dense, with no signs of rising.

    What gives?

    BTW, love the banter; thanks for all the info and recipes!

    PS. Haven’t had the chance to try this banana bread recipe yet…

    Reply
  2. Sue E. Conrad

    Hm-m-m, will have to try this banana bread; sure looks tasty!! Love the daffodils, a flower that has to be treated as an annual here in Florida – just not the same effect somehow.

    Now a question for you, something I’ve tried to have answered a couple of times before – the recipe for Easy Cinnamon Bread posted on the KA Flour website calls for an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2″ pan which I found is too small; a 9 x 5″ pan is perfect. I keep checking back to see if the pan size has been changed……..not so far!!

    Love the Bakers’ Banter and, of course, the great recipes. THANKS!

    Reply
  3. Diane Hipsley

    The banana bread recipe looks good. When I have bananas too dark for my husband to eat(I eat them even mushy) I throw them in the freezer, in their skins until I want to use them. Take them out,peel just as they begin to thaw an &let them sit in a bowl with until they’re really gross looking with the oil separating out them use them in the recipe. Great banana flavor, but don’t let your husband or kids see it while it thaws or they won’t eat it.

    Reply
  4. Martha Newbold in Walla Walla, WA

    I sure love the Baker’s Banter with such great step-by-step photos….and your conversational-style tips answer questions I might have had. These inspire me enough to say, “I can do that!” Keep bringing on the healthful whole grain options in the recipes. I look forward to your next blog!

    Reply
  5. Roger

    Hello. My wife and I have to beg a personal difference with the state of ripeness of the bananas usually used in making banana bread.

    We found by experimenting, that using bright yellow, no brown spots or blackness showing at all bananas makes a very delicate flavored banana bread that my wife and I have received many raves on. We personally are not attracted by the heavy flavored banana bread that is obtained from using ripe/very ripe bananas.

    Try it… you just might like it.

    Roger

    Reply
  6. Roger

    A suggestion.

    After freezing our fingers whenever we tried to peel frozen bananas, we started peeling them first and then wrapping them in plastic wrap. Much, much easier and warmer to our ingers. The liquid in the bananas will separate as they thaw but will incorporate back into the mix when mixing with the rest of the bread ingredients. Good way to save those ripe and getting riper bananas for future banana bread baking.

    Roger

    Reply
  7. Dave Andresen

    Hi All;
    Banannnannas,,, the darker (black is not to be discarded) the more sugar/flavor for the B bread. I had one in the fridge at work in a plastic bag, had to eat it with out anyone seeing me, ya know the comments I would have got.

    Great B bread recipe, always looking for embellishments/derivations. I never use nuts, they interrupt the texture.

    This looks like a new subject for research, I have been collecting potato salad recipes for a few years, most will not give the details, just providing the basic n additions to their “secret recipe”.
    List n form regarding this project available from me at dcaservice@comcast.

    Reply
  8. Carol Womelsdorf

    Hi, love the easy to follow directions in the banana bread, good idea to show the whole process too.
    I have a question, can I substitute oil for the butter in this recipe? My husband is allergic to butter.
    Thanks

    Reply
  9. Edward Loughlin

    Here’s a hint I came up when I used to bake Banana Bread as as teenager years ago. My family raised pecans and of course we used them in just about every recipe..I just didn’t like the way the larger pieces tore out of the bread when it was sliced..so I used a grater and made fine grounds of the nuts and it made the slicing easier and oh..did it load every bite with the wonderful tase of pecans!! ( Since that time I learned from our shellers that pecan meal is available from them, and most larger mail order pecan catalogs.!) Try it!!

    Reply
  10. PJ Hamel

    Carol, I THINK you could substitute oil, though I haven’t tried it – the recipe calls for 1/2 cup butter, so I’d substitute 1/3 cup oil (since butter also has milk solids along with the fat). Hope it works!

    Reply
  11. Jackie

    Looking forward to trying this recipe out. I do have a favourite bb recipe but always ready to try another one. If your bb appears to be too moist as mine has been, I have found that adding dried blueberries puffs up the blueberries and tastes quite yummmy. It is a good combination of bananas. dried blueberries, cinnamon and pecans.

    Reply
  12. PJ Hamel , post author

    Believe it or not, Barbara – same time, same temperature. Though the pan is slimmer and longer, it’s also ceramic rather than metal – so it all evens out in the end.

    Reply
  13. Jenny

    Hi. Tried the banana bread today and, although it tastes delish, there was too much batter for the 9×5 pan (which I measured first), dripped all over the floor of oven until I put a cookie sheet underneath. I followed the recipe word for word, but also added another 1/2 cup walnuts. Would this have caused my overflow problem?? Thanks.

    Reply
  14. PJ Hamel , post author

    Yup, Jenny, that extra 1/2 cup of volume from the nuts pushed the batter over its limit; it fills the pan pretty full without the nuts. If you ever have any question, put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment before putting it in the oven; that way, if it DOES overflow – no cleanup!

    Reply
  15. Jenny

    Thanks, will do. The bread is outstanding with almond butter. Give it a whirl. Love your recipes, site, baking sheet etc. You guys rock!!

    Reply
  16. PJ

    Barbara, I was talking with one of my fellow bakers today, and she said she baked the banana bread in the tea loaf pan, and it baked 20 minutes less… So I’d say, start testing at 50 minutes, and take it from there.

    Reply
  17. Beverly

    I hope that when you launch the new recipe site that you include an area where everyone can store your many recipes Thank you

    Reply
  18. Patti

    Hi. Is there anyway to speed up the ripening process with bananas? My family doesn’t leave them long enough for me to make banana bread very often and I would love to make it more often.

    Reply
  19. leeds

    I tried this recipe and I was disappointed. The bread is more like a date nut bread than a banana bread, and I cant really say why.
    I only know I wouldnt make it again.

    The bread came out fine, it is edible, but the taste isnt bananas..

    Reply
  20. PJ Hamel , post author

    Leeds – sounds to me like your bananas weren’t ripe enough? If you try it again, use black bananas… or, just stick with a recipe you like – that’s always a good option!

    Patti – two ways to get ripe bananas: 1) hide them till they’re ripe! A closet works well. 2) Put them in a paper bag and close the bag – I believe the ethylene gas they release will help them ripen more quickly. Good luck!

    Reply
  21. Jennifer

    I’ve been making banana bread since I was knee high to a grass hopper. It was one of the first things I remember baking on my own. The recipe I use calls for alternating the smashed bananas with the flour when you add it to the creamed butter and sugar. It’s interesting how these two different recipes come out looking very similar.

    My MIL suggested putting the bananas in the fridge, they turn black and ripen nicely. My kids have decided they don’t like bananas unless it’s in banana bread so i just have find the time to make the bread.

    Reply
  22. Kim

    Made this yesterday, and it was fab! I had only the smaller 8 1/2″ pan, but it was fine. Altho I omitted any kind of nuts – I was out of stock :>)

    Used the whole wheat flour. The loaf was quite dark but WONDERFUL. Best Banana Bread ever! Moist and so flavorful. My daughter gave it 100% but said she wanted mini choc chips next time.

    Reply
  23. Candace R.

    I’m officially a banana hater – or was! Decided to try this recipe to take to a baby shower. I added a half cup or so of plumped golden raisins, as well as the nuts. Got many requests for the recipe and the leftovers. I think, for me, that the apricot jam made the difference.

    Reply
  24. Nel

    I have to tell you I made this bread twice and both times it was wonderful. First time, I had time to shell walnuts (the nuts in packages just don’t seem to compare to fresh out of the shell…). The second time, no time to shell nuts – and it was equally gorgeous without them.

    I found orange marmalade with the skin cut into tiny bits instead of in shreds (first time I’ve ever shopped for marmalade) and it was, to me, what made this banana bread the BEST I’ve ever eaten: those little bright bursts of orange gave it interest without overwhelming it. Of course the texture and moistness also beats out any banana bread I’ve ever made.

    I can say I wasn’t much of a fan of banana bread before: it was one of those things I made when I blew it and let the bananas go too long and felt guilty so I did someting with the bananas to keep them from going totally to waste. But this recipe is one I made just because it’s good. In fact, the second time I made it was for other people (tested the recipe to eat at home the first time) and I planned ahead, buying bananas a week before I made it, to let them go black. (I never thought I’d deliberately let bananas go black.) My first attempt I used a teflon-coated loaf pan that (in my quirky oven) made the outside too dark, close to burnt. So I bought two very shiny loaf pans just for this recipe, doubled it and made a whole lot of hard-working people happy.

    This is now ‘my’ banana bread recipe! I know I’ll be making it again and again. Thanks!

    Reply
  25. Susan

    Ok, was curious about making a Banana Split Bread today. My husband hates banana bread but loves banana splits. Thinking that if I add choc chips, crushed pineapple, walnuts or chopped peanuts, and strawberry preserves or whole fruit spread somehow-maybe a ribbon of it along top of loaf–what do you think? Have you tried making that? Of course this would hide the whole wheat flour from him that I use in baking (He grew up on Ho-hos and Wonder bread -an acquired taste ) . Ha! My mom’s recipe swears by adding sugar to mashed bananas to let it macerate, like strawberries for strawberry shortcake. It seems to pump banana flavor up.

    Good idea about macerating bananas with sugar, Susan – I’ll have to try that. As for adding crushed pineapple or preserves (beyond the amount already called for), I think it would wreck the liquid/flour ratio. Better to add those AFTER the bread is baked, when you serve it. Sounds pretty yummy! PJH

    Reply
  26. Cheryl Valentine

    This is a wonderful Banana Bread recipe. This recipe will be the one I will use in the future. I had a question on the baking… I followed the recipe as it is written but the top of the bread (in the middle) was a bit too moist. I cooked the additional time that was in the recipe but since the top middle was moist I ended cooking the bread an additional 38 minutes instead of the 25 minutes mentioned. FYI – I used the KA all-purpose flour. Any suggestions on how to get the top (middle of the bread) to cook thoroughly?

    Cheryl, I often have this issue, too. Try putting the bread on an upper rack for perhaps the final 30 minutes of baking – see if that helps. PJH

    Reply
  27. Susan Owens

    Hi… Just made this bread… did my best! good flavor but flat… Thought I weighed the bananas… why flat? Stove is just a little hot (10-15 degrees). Help! I’m a Newbie!

    Susan, quick breads can be surprisingly challenging. My banana bread is often flat across the top. But since it’s so super-moist and delicious, I really don’t sweat how it looks. Flat can mean rose too high and fell; or simply too much liquid/not enough structure. Sometimes the liquid/flour balance can be prety touch and go. Bottom line – try, try again, and if quick breads don’t do it for you, take that same batter and make muffins! PJH

    Reply
  28. Robert from New London, CT

    I finally found the banana bread recipe with pictures. Thanks PJ Hamel. Will the recipe be the same using KAF’s Traditional or Organic Whole Wheat?
    I’m a Type 2 Diabetic and would prefer to use whole wheat. Oh if not (to make it easier to follow the recipe) do U know if the White Whole Wheat is won’t boost my blood sugars too high? Also do U think it’ll be the same to use Smart Balance Butter Spread instead of Butter? I got to watch for my A1C.

    Robert, it would be good if you could use our white whole wheat, organic or regular, in place of the traditional whole wheat; I just think white whole wheat has a better, lighter flavor. If all you can find is traditional, though, go ahead and use it. I’m not in a position to give you health/nutrition advice, sorry – best ask your doctor about your blood sugar. It won’t be the same to use Smart Balance as butter; your bread will be tougher. But that’s OK, it’ll still taste good, and toasting or microwaving it a touch will help. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  29. April in CT

    This bread is fantastic! I used white whole wheat, orange marmalade, 1/2C brown sugar (was still plenty sweet!) and walnuts. It’s so incredibly moist and I love that it doesn’t call for oil. As with many of the KAF recipes I’ve tried lately, this will be my go-to banana bread recipe from now on.

    Reply
  30. chris mason

    So what about the oil in the bottom of the bowl after you’ve defrosted the frozen bananas? Can this oil be used again in the recipe or do I discard it? That is juice from the bananas. I just mix it backinmto the bananas and add it to the recipe. have fun with it. Mary@ KAF

    Reply
  31. Sandra Hughes

    I made this bread on Wednesday, wasn’t sure if I was imagining how good it was, so I made it again on Friday. Without the marmalade this was really good. I’m heading to the store for that marmalade now, can’t see how it could get any better. FYI, when I have bananas that are past the fresh eating stage I just peel them, toss them into a ziplock bag and freeze them, 3 to a bag. When they thaw there is a lot of liquid in the bag. DON’T throw it away. It’s loaded with flavor and doesn’t require any additional flour in the recipe.

    Reply
  32. puddinglover

    For those who don’t always have overripe bananas, some stores do have riper ones on display–maybe you can keep those a couple extra days or ask if they have any in back that are too ripe to sell, but good for baking. I really only like bananas about 2 days out of their life cycle, so it’s easy for me to wait once they are past their “prime” and then freeze them.

    Reply
  33. kfreshwater

    Everyone seems to have had good luck with this bread, however, my batter is sitting in the other room waiting for me to decide whether to continue or not. I thought i followed the recipe but the batter is real loose. i weighed the flour and came out with 9.5 ounces. Does this sound right? This is the second time i tried this and both times i had the same trouble. Maybe i mixed it too long or too fast? not sure what to do.

    I’d say go ahead and bake it – what have you got to lose? 9 1/2 ounces of King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour is right; if you used a different brand or type of flour, then your batter will probably be a different consistency – probably thinner. Did you use large eggs, not extra large or jumbo? Your best bet might be to call our baker’s hotline, so you can have a dialogue and get to the bottom of this. 802-649-3717. Hope your bread turns out better than you expect! PJH

    Reply
  34. Renco01

    Awesome recipe!! I had one problem though. I doubled the recipe and opted to make 3 smaller loaves instead of two. I think I over filled the pans to start but they didn’t leak out just had a big lip on all three. I probably could have made four smaller ones. I greased the pans but apparently not enough– all three stuck and look like a disaster. Very edible though, but won’t be using them for giving out. I guess that means we will have to eat all three loaves , what a shame– (and I will enjoy every bite!!!) Will bake more of these but will grease AND FLOUR the pans next time. This is my first disaster of this type in a long while and I bake a lot of bread, etc.
    A good rule of thumb is to fill the pans no more than 1/2 full to ensure you don’t get spillovers. Enjoy your unexpected treat! ~ MJ

    Reply

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