There’s nothing as comforting as the smell of banana bread baking in the oven. I love banana bread and have tried various recipes that produced marginal results. But now I think I’ve found my go-to recipe and I want to share it.
One of the problems I’ve had with banana bread is wanting to make it but not planning on having ripe bananas on hand to do so. C’mon, how many of you actually plan on having ripe bananas on hand? Quite often banana bread is an after thought when you have ripe bananas and don’t know what to do with them. Personally I am not a big banana fan. I’ll eat them in banana bread or a banana split but that’s about it. So normally I do not intentionally have bananas around the house.
But I’ve discovered over many years of making banana bread that ripe bananas actually make a huge difference in the flavor of the bread. When bananas get ripe, they release their natural sugars which intensifies their flavor. It’s actually amazing. Try making this recipe with unripe bananas and then with ripe bananas. You will be amazed at the difference! But what do you do when you want to make banana bread but can’t find ripe bananas at the store (and I’ll clue you in, you probably never will). I solved that dilemma in a very simple way which I will share in my lessons learned.
Lesson Learned 1 – You can always have ripe bananas on hand: It’s really rather simple. Just preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the bananas on a baking sheet and keep them in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Start checking them after 5 minutes. You want the skins to be nice and dark like in the picture to the left. I checked my bananas at 5 minutes and they just had a couple of brown spots on them. I checked them again 3 minutes later and they were almost there and finally after an additional 2 minutes they were the perfect dark color. The amount of time you’ll need to get the bananas to brown as shown in these pictures will depend on your oven and altitude.
I can’t stress enough the difference this makes in the flavor of the bread. It only takes a few minutes but the end result is so worth it. The picture above shows what the banana looks like after this process. Simply peel the bananas, put them all in a bowl and mash them. It will take no effort to do so as the bananas will be delightfully soft and perfectly ripe.
Lesson Learned 2 – The basics for any moist sweet bread (or cake): I know I’ve shared this before but it bears repeating. When making a sweet bread or a cake there are a few basic keys to success: 1. Take the time needed to cream the butter and sugar. I’ve found most cooks short change this step and it’s essential for having a moist sweet bread. It can take 5-7 minutes to cream the butter and sugar properly. The end result should be a light color and the mixture should look fluffy and creamy. 2. Use room temperature eggs. Room temperature eggs mix more thoroughly into a batter. Forgot to take your eggs out of the refrigerator before baking? No worries – click on “this link” for a down and dirty trick to get room temperature eggs in just 5 minutes. 3. Don’t over mix the batter. Once you put the dry and wet ingredients together, just combine them. Once they are fully incorporated into one another, STOP! Do these 3 simple steps and you will have a moist sweet bread every single time.
This bread would be delightful on it’s own but it goes over the top when frosted with my cream cheese frosting. Either way, you will have a great go-to banana bread recipe that is quick, easy and every so flavorful. Enjoy!
Banana Bread With Cream Cheese Frosting…
1/2 cup room temperature butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter softened,
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1-2 tsp. vanilla (to taste)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or you can use non-stick organic cooking spray) an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan and set aside. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (5-7 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla. Stir in the mashed bananas until combined.
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Stir only until combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan.
Bake at 350 for 45 – 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing it. Let cool completely before frosting.
Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add confectioners sugar and beat on a low speed until combined and then on a high speed until smooth. Spread on cooled bread.