Don’t you love when those over ripe bananas go on sale at the grocery store? I grabbed a bag for $1.99 the other day, brimming with brown speckled bananas. Lots of them. And I had big plans for those nasty looking bananas. Banana bread.
I have always loved banana bread, but not homemade banana bread. Maybe it was because it was usually dry and dense. If it wasn’t dry then it was a bit doughy in the center. Nothing homemade seemed to compare with our favorite bakery style bread from Bob Evan’s. Theirs was always perfectly cooked through, sticky on the top, but not doughy, and seemed much more of a dessert than a bread.
My husband would order two slices every time we visited the restaurant. And so I set out to figure out how to make bread as good as theirs and failed. Over and over. Don’t get me wrong, it was edible, but I kept running into the problem of having it drier than we wanted. If I under cooked it a bit it would be doughy inside, and I always ended up putting it back in the oven to finish up which dried it out. I kept at it over the years until I figured out how to make it perfectly moist. One that we all absolutely love.
I’ve learned that it isn’t so much the ingredients or determining how dark and nasty the bananas need to be that makes the difference. Good ingredients are good (and I have a great list below), but it is what you do to your bread after it comes out of the oven that makes it sticky on top and moist all over.
I am going to let you in on my trick (I use it with my yeast breads too) and then I will share my recipe for perfect banana bread.
The key to a perfectly moist bread is wrapping it while it is still warm. Fight the urge to slice into it fresh out of the oven. It would taste awesome, but your patience will pay off if you wait until morning. I know that is not what you wanted to hear. When your bread comes out of the oven, let it stand for in the pan 10 minutes. Then run a knife around the edges, flip it over on a flat surface and wrap it in plastic wrap. Let the loaves stand on a rack 6-8 hours before removing the plastic wrap.
I do something similar with my yeast breads too. We usually eat a loaf right away, but I wrap the second loaf while still slightly warm and it creates a little condensation and keeps the crust moist since yeast bread dries out quickly.
If you don’t believe me, watch this video
. I knew that wrapping it would moisten the bread, but it wasn’t until I watched this video that I learned that the bananas actually need to sit for awhile after being baked into the bread too. You learn something new every day!
Letting it stand also allows the banana flavor to really come through. If I haven’t scared you off yet, here is my tried and true banana bread recipe.
Thick, moist, dense with bananas and slightly sticky on top.
Bakery Style Banana Bread
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
8 over-ripe bananas, mashed
(1) 5.1 oz. box vanilla instant pudding mix
1 1/2 c. half and half (or 1 c. whole milk)
4 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 c. chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
You can use a mixer or whisk by hand. I use my Kitchenaid.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until smooth and add bananas. Mix in pudding mix and half and half. Add salt and baking powder and flour, one cup at a time. Stir in nuts.
Lightly spray two loaf pans with cooking spray and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. If it seems as thought your bread is getting too brown, too fast, you can tent it slightly with a piece of foil the last 15 minutes or so. Insert a toothpick. If it comes out really doughy, bake another 8 minutes and check it again. Toothpick should come out with a little stickiness on it, but shouldn’t have batter clinging to it.
Let bread stand for 10 minutes and then run a knife around the edges to loosen it up. Turn out on flat surface and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to rest on a cooling rack 6-8 hours.
To reheat, place slices on a microwave save plate and heat for 5-7 seconds.
Makes two full size loaves.
Bonus! I use this recipe for my zucchini bread too. Just use 3 cups of shredded zucchini and 2 tsp. cinnamon and omit the bananas.