LOOKING for: Ways to make my Banana Bread lighter

linnea56January 28, 2007

How would I "lighten up" my banana bread recipe? Lighter, as in not as dense, not calorie-wise. I like this one, which is from my old Betty Cookbook, the first cookbook I ever owned. I make it pretty often since I can't bear to waste bananas. But DH and children won't eat it, saying it's too dense. It's both dense and very moist: I assume the bananas are the reason. I've had some at bakeries that weren't as heavy as mine but don't know why.

How can I make it fluffier? More eggs? I don't know what makes this dense; my other quick bread recipes are not. Some of you might have the skill to look at a recipe and say what could be changed: so I'm copying it below. Thanks for your help!

BANANA NUT BREAD from old Betty Crocker book

2 ½ C flour

3 ½ t baking powder

1 t salt

3 T salad oil

¾ C milk

1 egg

1 C sugar

2 ripe mashed bananas (= 1 cup)

1 C finely chopped nuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 9 x 5 x 3" loaf pan or two 8.5 x 4. 5 x 2.5" pans. Measure all ingredients into large mixer bowl and beat on medium speed ½ minute, scraping down continually. Pour into pan and bake 55 to 65 minutes until pick in center comes out clean.

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Well, I'm going to pass along my favorite Banana Muffin recipe. I've threatened to try it as a loaf, but so far haven't. They are light though, much lighter than banana breads I've tried.

Banana Nut Muffins

1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
1 cup sugar (I use half sugar and half Splenda)
2 eggs
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup buttermilk (I usually use regular milk with tsp. vineger or lemon juice)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (More if desired)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter and sugar until light.
Add eggs and banana, beat until fluffy
Combine salt, baking powder, baking soda and flour. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Mix just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Stir in pecans and vanilla
Grease, spray or line with paper, muffin cups
Divide batter among muffin cups, filling about halfway.
Bake at 400 degrees Farenhiet for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.
Will make a dozen large muffins, I usually get about 16

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 11:39AM
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I've been using this recipe for the last couple of months. It produces a lighter textured, less sweet banana loaf than other recipes I've used in the past. It seems very close to the muffin recipe minirose posted. I'm wondering if the extra egg and the use of a soured milk product make a difference.

Best Banana Bread
Cook's Illustrated

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups toasted walnuts , chopped coarse (about 1 cup)
3 very ripe bananas , soft, darkly speckled, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs , beaten lightly
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of regular loaf pan, or grease and flour bottom and sides of nonstick 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; set aside. Combine first five ingredients together in large bowl; set aside.

2. Mix mashed bananas, yogut, eggs, butter, and vanilla with wooden spoon in medium bowl. Lightly fold banana mixture into dry ingredients with rubber spatula until just combined and batter looks thick and chunky. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan; bake until loaf is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 3:48PM
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I have been told (I haven't tried it) that using buttermilk would make a lighter textured quick bread, something about the acid reaction with the leavening. I would suppose that yogurt, sour cream, or sour milk would have the same sort of effect.

I have also heard of adding the yolks of the eggs to the mixture as directed, then whipping the whites separately. Mix your wet with your dry ingredients until just combined, then gently fold in the whipped whites. I have seen cake recipes that directed this, but never quick breads. I wonder if it is worth a try.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 3:48PM
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"Lightness" comes from some baking science. Quick breads made by creaming fat and sugar are more tender and cakelike. Creaming adds air, which ultimately creates a lighter texture. Choosing a solid fat (butter, shortening) will also lighten the loaf, while liquid fat (vegetable oil) tend to be heavier, but with a moister crumb. Liquid fat doesn't "cream" like solid fat. This is called the traditional mixing method where all the steps are geared to minimizing mixing and gluten development - cream fat, add liquid ingredients, add liquid mixture into dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix. Your recipe is dump and mix - and with a mixer, no less, which equals heavy/dense. So choose a recipe that calls for creaming the fat to aid in lightening the texture.

After choosing a recipe that includes creaming the fat, I get a "lighter" texture using part freshly-milled soft white wheat flour or spelt flour - about 50/50 - with all-purpose flour. Less gluten in these flours - trick #2.

Quick breads are all about gluten development, or I should say, less gluten development. If you are mixing your banana bread with an electric hand-held or stand mixer, then you may be developing too much gluten. Trick #3 - try mixing the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients - by hand - using a Danish Dough Whisk (see link below), or a dinner fork. Only mix ingredients together until they are blended, and no more than that. That should also help maintain some "lightness".

You could also switch to banana cake. Google for banana snack cakes, and your family may like the texture of a cake better than a quick bread.


Here is a link that might be useful: Fante's Kitchen Wares Shop

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 5:06PM
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How interesting this is! As it happens, my original recipe is the only quick bread or muffin recipe I have that calls for using a mixer. Somehow I never noticed that part before. All the others are mix together dry ingredients, then wet, then put the two together. That alone is probably a major difference. I think I'll try all these recipes! Plus try my original one without the mixer. Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 7:10PM
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I would change the method in your original....and use butter/margerine instead of oil. I would make it 1/4 cup of butter...1/2 a stick.
Cream the butter and suger...add the egg and milk and mix.
Add the mashed banana.
Do all the above with a mixer.
Then add the flour, BP and I would add 1/'4 tsp salt...gently by hand.
I also would add 1 tsp of vanilla to the wet ingredients.
I'll bet it's lighter.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 7:37PM
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I use the butter 1/2 stick and cream the eggs and sugar also but i add 1/8 tsp of cream of tarter aslo makes it very light.......try it it works

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 2:59PM
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I like to try different banana bread recipes. At one site, many people raved about the Betty Crocker recipe... it was the best they've ever made! Well, it was the WORST I've ever made. LOL While it was moist, it was really heavy! That's when I decided that I'll stick to the one I usually use. Now, I think that I'll try some of the above. Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 7:41AM
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Thanks for all the recipes and tips! I'm going to have to hold a little banana bread bake-off here! Most of my favorite scone recipes also call for buttermilk: and those are certainly light and fluffy.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 2:08PM
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