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I've followed lots of standard recipes online, and the result is always more cake like: dark on the outside white and dryish in the middle.

When I go to the store and buy it it's always dark and moist in the middle.

What is the secret ingredient?!


Update: A lot better! Suggestions below helped a ton. But the perfect banana bread still eludes me.. Here's somes pointers I picked up:

  • Freezing bananas helps. It allows you to mix them in easier and gives it a more consistent texture. More bananas is better (try 4 small ones, or 3 big ones).

  • Try adding Sour Cream (instead of yoghurt). Maybe 1/4 cup for 1 loaf. I had much positive feedback after this experiment!

  • Molasses helps the color (be darker), but the flavour becomes a little too strong and maybe even bitter. Overall I don't recommend it.

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3  
Can you link a specific recipe you've tried and its failed? –  rfusca Oct 15 '11 at 2:08
    
I basically just eye it, but here are roughly my measurements: 1 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 2-3 bananas, a stick of butter and a tsp/tbsp of all the other stuff (salt,bp,magic powder). –  Totomobile Nov 8 '11 at 18:25
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Well...baking and using rough measurements don't go well in general. Especially as there's a big diff between a tsp and tbsp of those listed ingredients.... –  rfusca Nov 8 '11 at 18:41

7 Answers 7

  1. Turn the oven down by about 25-50F. Quite often, ovens just blast the heck out of baked good, especially smaller apartment ovens. Larger, more expensive ovens tend to be better calibrated and will produce the proper 350F temperature usually required for banana bread. A cheap oven, which is still fine for banana bread, will overshoot the temperature and kill your banana bread. Turn the oven down a bit, and if necessary cook for longer. I have even turned my oven cooler AND cooked it for 15 minutes less time than the recipe required.

  2. Check at 2/3 time. Don't let the bread run through the entire cooking time before checking it. Always check early. For some recipes, I take the banana bread out at 2/3 recommended time!

  3. Don't over-beat the mixture. Despite being called banana "bread" it isn't a bread, it is a cake insomuch as it is made from a batter, not a long-kneaded dough. If you start mixing and it seems already too dry - STOP - and add a few tablespoons of milk to loosen the mixture up. If it's too dry in the initial stages, it will certainly be dry later, but a dry mixture also causes you to push harder, thereby causing the gluten to harden.

  4. Don't cut down on butter/fat. This is really what prevents it drying out. Use creme fraiche, more butter, a bit less flour...

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Store banana bread is usually heavier on bananas (they have to get rid of them), and that will make for a heavier, moister, darker banana bread. I generally add at least one more banana than it calls for in the recipe, and you'll get a better flavor if you wait a while, and let the bananas get old and spotty.

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First, I tend to wait 'til the bananas are completely black, and then freeze them 'til I have enough for a batch of bread baking, then thaw them the day before cooking. This ensures that the bananas are completely broken down (the freezing helps to burst any cell walls), freeing up all of the moisture from the bananas.

I also use a recpipe that uses molasses, which results in a very dense, moist loaf. Not everyone likes it though, as it can be a little bit heavy.

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2  
I do the same and I just noticed yesterday while cleaning out the freezer I have enough for banana bread! Think I'm going to make some tonight... –  rfusca Oct 17 '11 at 14:06
    
Ok I will try this! –  Totomobile Oct 18 '11 at 17:05
    
Ok I followed through with this, and I did get a nice brown loaf this time, but it was slightly bitter I guess because of the molasses and not as moist as I was hoping. I think next time I will add less molasses (i had about 3-4 tsps this time) and mroe sugar. thanks. –  Totomobile Nov 8 '11 at 18:18

Yogurt. There's a recipe in a book I have called Baking Illustrated that uses it; I highly reccommend picking up that book, as they discuss what each ingredient does in the bread. I believe their recipe calls for 1/4 cup of plain yogurt added to melted butter, bananas, and egg for the wet ingredients alongside the usual dry ones.

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I will try this, but I remember trying it a while back and it came out quite wet inside, not sure if I hadn't baked it long enough, or I didn't wait for it to cool. How long at what temperature do you bake and for how long should I wait before eating it? thanks. –  Totomobile Nov 8 '11 at 18:20

I use olive oil. You can use light or extra-virgin olive oil. The olive oil will make any bread cake moist. Other things I do for my banana bread are adding a little molasses, just a little bit more sugar and vanilla flavor and more bananas. I usually let it cool a little and then wrap it in aluminum foil.

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If you don't mind getting a bit fussy, this advice from America's Test Kitchen should work great. I haven't tried it yet myself, I'll edit this answer when I do.

You can get 5 bananas in a loaf if you microwave them first (5 minutes on high, covered with pierced plastic wrap), freezing them accomplishes the same thing. The key step is to then drain them in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. If using frozen bananas, put them in the strainer frozen, they'll drain as they thaw.

5 peeled bananas should weigh about 2.25lbs (1Kg). Strained, they should produce about 1/2cup-3/4cup of liquid (118mls-177mls) That's too much of the liquid to use in a loaf of bread, so ATK recommends reducing it to 1/4 cup. That syrup becomes the liquid in the loaf.

They also say that the bananas should be very ripe, but that there's really no difference in sugar content between very speckled and black. Either will work just fine.

For their Ultimate Banana Bread they use a full stick of butter, 2 eggs and brown sugar. They also sprinkle granulated sugar on top for a nice crust.

EDIT: I've done this now a few times. Yes, it's fussy, it also makes a great loaf of banana bread. Of course it's paywalled ATK Banana Bread Recipe, but they do offer a 14 day free trial.

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I find when I add apples it makes my breads and cakes very moist.

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2  
Chunks of apples? Apple sauce? –  Jefromi May 21 at 18:26

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