I really like banana bread, but I have a few problems with your standard banana bread: First, it can be kind of tough, and if I’m going to eat a quickbread I want it to have a very soft, cakey texture. Second, to get the inside cooked through perfectly you have to cook it a long time, so the outer edges get kind of dry and dark. If you cook it so the edges are perfect, the inside is still mushy, which is just gross. Third, I think banana bread really needs chocolate chips to be perfectly delicious, but I think that about lots of things, so I’m ok if you disagree with me on that. The first two issues, however, are indisputable. *wink*
So I’ve made lots of banana bread recipes, and I’ve finally hit on the perfect one. It’s just plain wonderful. The bread is much lighter in color than most banana breads I’ve tried, and it’s much lighter and softer in texture as well. However, in addition to a great recipe, there’s one secret I’ve found that turns a really good banana bread into absolutely perfect banana bread. Here it is:
It’s a mini loaf pan. Instead of waiting around for 60 minutes to cook one large loaf (that’s going to be dark and brown all along the edges) you can wait half the time and get 8 adorable mini loaves that are perfectly soft through and through – not a hint of dry edge anywhere. I’m pretty sure I bought my mini loaf pan at Walmart or Target about a hundred years ago, but you can also find one on amazon here. Believe me, it makes all the difference. Plus mini loaves are awesome for sharing or freezing if you don’t want to (or are trying to restrain yourself from) eating the entire thing.
The recipe I use is from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, which is my favorite food blog. I made a few small changes to the recipe (switched from all white to half white and half brown sugar, decreased the total sugar, and made the addition of chocolate chips and option), but the essential difference is how it’s cooked. If you don’t have a mini loaf pan and don’t feel like buying one, I’d recommend cooking these as muffins to retain the complete softness. If you really want to you can use a full size loaf pan, but it just won’t be as good, so consider yourself warned. Click here to be taken to a downloadable/printable version.
Be sure to spray or butter your loaf pan and sprinkle in a little flour, then tap the edges to evenly distribute the flour, before you fill with the batter. Ovens vary, so keep an eye on your mini loaves. When done they’ll look lightly browned on the edges and the tops will be cracked, as you can see in the photo below. You want to be sure that the cracks on top look cooked, and not wet or gooey. I always gently touch the top of one loaf with my finger – it should spring back as opposed to mushing down. When in doubt, go a minute or two longer – they will still be very soft since the cook time is so much shorter than a large loaf.
I let my loaves cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes – they shrink up a bit which makes them easier to remove from the pan. We usually eat a couple hot because we’re impatient, but they taste best after they’ve had a chance to cool.
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