A standard in every baker's repertoire, banana bread is practically foolproof — even for the untried beginner. A few simple ingredients stirred together in a bowl, baked in a loaf pan, and served to universal approval: that's banana bread.
So why is such a simple loaf our 2018 Recipe of the Year? Because it's been a classic for close to a century, its popularity never waning. Banana bread is tremendously versatile, responding beautifully to add-ins, different pans, even alternate sweeteners and flours (e.g., whole wheat). And it's just utterly delicious. Join us as we embark on a year-long salute to banana bread, in all its delicious incarnations.
Start with overripe bananas: Have some brown bananas in your fruit bowl? They're perfect for banana bread! The flavor of bananas heavily streaked with dark brown is much more potent than that of plain yellow (or yellow-green) bananas, and will shine through in your baked loaf.
Sweeten to taste: Trying to cut the added sugar in your baked treats — or use an alternate sweetener? Banana bread's moist texture won't suffer if you reduce the recipe's sugar by 25 percent. Also, feel free to replace the recipe's brown sugar with honey, maple syrup, or your own favorite liquid sweetener.
Bake to perfection: Banana bread is so moist it can be hard to judge when it's perfectly baked and ready to remove from the oven. A paring knife is the best way to test banana bread, as it offers more surface area than a cake tester or toothpick. Insert it into the center of the loaf, and pull it out; if it's clean of any wet batter, the bread is fully baked.