Cooking with Ana: Fool-proof banana bread (AKA the re-appearance of the wooden spoon)

After posting about my recent baking adventures, I’ve received requests for recipes and photos. Despite the constant nagging kind entreaties for photos, a spur-of-the-moment trip to the local electronics store did not turn out well. (My camera has not seen the light of day for a few years.) No camera for Ana. You’ll have to use your imagination. πŸ™‚

This recipe is for Penny, who wanted an easy first baking idea. It’s also a simple, easy-to-serve, no-fuss dessert suitable for all but the stuffiest of parties. I’ve made this banana bread in three continents, ten countries, and hundreds of homes. While I love to experiment with new desserts, this is the recipe I use when I have limited time or need to be positive it will turn out well in unfamiliar circumstances. I learned how to make banana bread when I was a child, and through the years I have experimented with different variations. Banana bread batter is simple and sturdy enough to withstand a fair amount of abuse, so there aren’t many ways to ruin it. I have managed to do so on one occasion, though.

Don’t take the bread out of the oven when it’s partially baked and hope to finish baking it later. (In my defense, I was about 16 and had to leave to baby-sit the neighborhood kids.)

Don’t forget to add the baking soda and baking powder. (I haven’t actually done this, but it would be disastrous. Other mistakes will make your banana bread taste less yummy, but it’s pretty hard to actually ruin it.)

That’s it! Ready to make banana bread?

Note: I use imperial measurements, but I’ve put approximate conversions. I used this site as a reference. I acknowledge the silliness of giving millileter measurements for baking powder, etc., but I couldn’t find weight conversions for those dry ingredients.

First, gather the ingredients you’ll need. I’ve noted my preferences after each ingredient, but they’re personal choice. You can, for example, use unsalted butter if you prefer.

Wet ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup (150g) butter, margarine, or shortening: I prefer salted sweetcream butter. Leave on the counter until the butter is room temperature and easy to mix.
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar: I use white granulated.
  • 2 eggs: I use large.
  • 2 teaspoons (10mL) vanilla extract: I use premium real vanilla extract, but I grew up using imitation. The real stuff is expensive.
  • Bananas: Three, unless you have two very large ones. They should be brown to give the bread better flavor. You can use yellow bananas, but the bread won’t taste as good.

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup of flour (225g): I use unbleached all-purpose white flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder (10mL)
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5mL) salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda (Are you really going to make me try to convert this? Just sprinkle a little bit in, ok? :P)

Optional add-ins: Cinnamon powder, milk, nuts (walnuts are a popular choice), and/or chocolate chips.

Equipment you’ll need:

  • Two medium-size mixing bowls: You can use one if you are comfortable with mixing dry ingredients right in the bowl with the wet ingredients–if you don’t know what I mean, use two bowls.
  • Wooden spoon (Ooh yes! Ooh baby! Maybe two wooden spoons…one for business and one for pleasure.)
  • Electric mixer: You can use a wooden spoon only, if you wish. I use an electric mixer for part of the process because stirring hurts my wrist.
  • Loaf pan: I like metal ones, but you can also use glass, tinfoil, or even silicone. You will have to adjust the baking times, though. I believe that the measurements are approximately 8x5x2 inches for a 1lb loaf, but it’s the typical loaf pan size. You can use mini loaf pans if you want to give away individual gift loaves, but again you’ll have to adjust the baking times.
  • Rubber spatula (Oooh!): Not absolutely necessary, but it does make it easier to transfer the batter to the pan.
  • A thin-bladed steak or bread knife, or a toothpick to test whether the bread is done.
  • Fork
  • Plate

Ready to start? Great! Oh, and Penny, you need an oven. πŸ˜€ Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (180 Celsius).

Peel the bananas and mash. I use a fork and mash them onto a plate. They should be mushy, similar to baby food. Set them aside.

In one of the mixing bowls, put the butter. Mix just the butter by itself. Then add the sugar and add until everything is the same consistency. Add the two eggs, vanilla extract, and bananas one item at a time and stir until everything is mixed well.

In the other mixing bowl, dump (in any order) the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix with a clean fork. Add half of the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredient mixture and stir with the wooden spoon (the clean wooden spoon, not the one you’ve used for funny business). Add the rest of the dry ingredient mixture and stir well.

If you want to use the optional add-ins, this is when you can mix in the milk (a very small amount, such as a tablespoon), cinnamon powder (a generous sprinkle), chocolate chips (a large handful, perhaps 1/2 a cup), or nuts (same as chocolate chips). Probably not all of them in the same bread, though. πŸ™‚

Grease the bottom (bottom inside of the pan only, not the sides) of the loaf pan in one of the following ways:

  • Coat the bottom with a thin layer of butter, margarine, shortening, or cooking oil. Shake a bit of flour into the bottom, and tap the sides to distribute the flour evenly. Shake the excess flour out of the pan.
  • Cut wax or parchment paper to the size of the bottom of the pan, and place it inside.
  • Spray with cooking spray. (I dislike cooking spray and never use it, but it’s the most convenient.) Dust with flour as in the first method.

Using the rubber spatula, scrape the batter into your loaf pan. For a more even loaf, try to spread the batter into the corners of the pan.

Put the pan into the oven and bake approximately 45 minutes. This time will depend on your oven, the kind of loaf pan you use, and exactly how much moisture you have in your batter. Your time might be longer or shorter, anywhere from 40 to 55 minutes. Check the bread to see if the top is baked, and stick the toothpick or knife into the center of the loaf. If the toothpick/knife comes out clean (with only a crumb or two stuck to it), the bread is done. If the toothpick/knife has wet banana bread batter stuck to it, you’ll need to bake longer.

Once the bread is done, take it out of the oven and cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then take a butter knife (or your steak knife) and loosen the edges of the loaf next to the pan. Turn the banana bread onto a cooling rack or bread board and allow to stand for at least another 10 minutes before slicing.

You can dress up the banana bread with drizzled white or chocolate icing, but generally I serve this in thick slices cut into half.

Enjoy!

Bonus explainer: In Ana’s world, putting butter on fresh banana bread is an insult. It means the bread is dry and needs butter to make it more palatable. Some banana bread is dry, especially when you skimp on the bananas, but mine is not. Never! Blasphemy. πŸ˜› Over the years I have (grudgingly) accepted that some people do like fresh, moist banana bread with butter (heathens!) and that it’s about them, not me. Still, I appreciate when people eat my banana bread the right way. πŸ˜€

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29 thoughts on “Cooking with Ana: Fool-proof banana bread (AKA the re-appearance of the wooden spoon)

  1. angel says:

    OMG I am over the moon I love banana bread but have never been able to make it I will be trying this and hoping I can get it right I am so excited… I might be able to have my fav treat more then once a year and I will be able to share as I am not so good at sharing the bread I get for christmas I tend to give the kids candy if they will just not eat my bread Thank you Thank you Thank you Angel

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      LOL Angel! This recipe doubles well, so you can make two loaves at once. One to share and one for you. πŸ˜€

      Let me know if you have any questions or problems while you try the recipe. I tried to make it both helpful and flexible. πŸ™‚

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  2. hollawrites says:

    That does sound very yummy, Ana. I’ve printed it and added it to my recipe file. I’m not much of a cook/baker so I may never actually make it. But I did make some oatmeal cakes a few weeks ago with bananas and they turned out quite good. They’re made in a muffin pan and you can freeze them and then microwave them for a quick breakfast on the go. Only 88 calories. Ok, I confess, mine had more calories because I put in more chocolate chips and added walnuts. So maybe mine are 100 to 120 calories. Still not bad.

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  3. sassytwatter says:

    Love cooking with Ana!!! Think this should be at least a monthly post. And seriously if you are going to tease us with all the umyummy thinks you are baking you need…no MUST take pictures! We want food porn! I look forward to trying this recipe I πŸ’› 🍌🍞! And butter who does that!! I do have to laugh I think I’ve been reading your blog for close to or longer than a year and half and it’s amazing to see the changes in you your style you cheeky girl. Hope you have fun with your wooden spoon.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Yes, you’ve been there nearly from the beginning! What a neat journey to take together.

      You don’t use butter? ‘Twas a fine friendship while it lasted…

      I promised to do a “Cooking for One” post, so never fear. πŸ˜€ There will be more! Will have to research cameras some more.

      Cheeky, me? You mean you! Hugs.

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      • sassytwatter says:

        Sorry as a friend just texted me saying she doesn’t speak crazy. I meant to say who would put butter on banana bread that’s just strange. Now peanut butter frosting if you want to be a glutinous little 🐷 (sometimes I do). Yea on more posts! And research away we wanna see the goddies!! It has been very fun to see your writing evolve and blossom. You are definitely out of your shell. I’ll admit I secretly read your blog from the beginning I found it shortly after I moved about 2.5 years ago just took me awhile to have the courage to leave a comment. And of the two of us I’m definitely the well behaved one 😡!

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        • Anastasia Vitsky says:

          You are always good for a laugh! I really did lol at your last line. Mrs. Claus doesn’t like fibbing, you know. πŸ™‚

          And yes, in some areas people put butter on any kind of bread, no matter what. It took me a long time to realize that’s how they did it. I tried to compare it to butter on fresh (plain, sandwich) bread, which I do even with my own…but I still cringe.

          I’m still debating between getting a wifi camera versus getting a cheaper one to upload by USB cable. Too many choices…

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  4. robskatie says:

    This sounds yummy Ana! Thanks for sharing. While I have a recipe for the same that I use, it is always nice to try something different. I’ll give it a go the next time I make it. πŸ™‚

    This morning I made dough to roll out and cut into various heart shaped cookies that my daughter and I will bake and frost and decorate. Once I get through that, might be time to make yours. And I agree- no butter on banana bread! Thanks. Many hugs,

    ❀ Katie

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Most people have their own favorite banana bread recipe. After this many years, I’m pretty set in my ways about banana bread, but I do like to experiment with most other things. Hope you enjoyed your cookies!

      Like

  5. Penelope says:

    Thank you for the recipe, Ana! I am honoured. And thoroughly encouraged – your instructions are crystal clear; no photos required πŸ™‚

    I shall attempt to follow them and make my first banana bread this weekend! And (hopefully) prove that your recipe is indeed fool-proof ❀

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  6. pao says:

    Whoa, so much detail πŸ˜€ I love that you put two measurements in. And I’ve never tried/ tasted it with cinnamon powder. Banana breads smell great! And I’ve never actually seen anyone spread butter on banana bread before – that’s strange. Also, does 350F convert to 180C instead of 120C?

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Sigh. Math is not my strong suit. Thank you. I will fix it. πŸ™‚

      And the metric measurements were for Penny, but I’m sure many others appreciate metric. I’m not at all sure how the dry small amounts convert, though. How confusing to have different weights for flour, butter, etc.

      Like

  7. catrouble says:

    Hey Ana…Thanks for sharing your recipe…will definititely give it a try. I have the one with applesauce and then have one similar to yours but not the same. Will need to have a bake-off between the 3 to see which I like the best! So now I can say it’s your fault that I’m not losing weight!!! πŸ˜€

    Hugs and Blessings…
    Cat

    Like

      • catrouble says:

        I can eat eggs mixed in with other ingredients like cake, cookies, etc. without too much trouble (just can’t eat the entire loaf at once! πŸ˜‰ ). It’s when I eat straight eggs (fried, poached, scrambled, deviled, etc.) or something where the primary ingredient is eggs (e.g., egg noodles) that I get sick.

        Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Honestly I get a little tired of banana bread sometimes, but it’s always the top of request lists when I bake. So…practice makes perfect. πŸ˜€

      So pleased we don’t have any butter heathens here. Hehe.

      Like

  8. terpsichore says:

    LOVE banana bread…and I have lots of recipes…now I have one more…if only I had the energy I would make them all in a day and have a taste comparison…but every one has been tasty (evidence in that they rarely last to see another day) πŸ™‚ I will definitely try it sometime… πŸ™‚ Hugs

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I baked two loaves of bread on Tuesday, and by Wednesday night I only had two ends of one loaf left. I’m becoming rather popular at church now. LOL.

      A taste comparison sounds great! Sounds like the county fair contests where people submit their baked goods for judging. Mm.

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  9. quiet sara says:

    LOL I loved your little commentary at the end about the butter. Rarely I will desire butter or cream cheese on a slice but normally I prefer it your “right” way. I also divide recipes into wet and dry categories such as you did. Another yummy topping, which needs to be added near the end of baking time, is to put butterscotch morsels and chocolate morsels on top. It’s so yummy that way, like a little treat at the beginning or end depending on which way you eat your bread. I like to eat mine backwards as the top is my favorite part. Adding the morsels last about 10 minutes until it is finished baking ensures they will not sink into the
    bread or sink to the bottom.

    love
    sara πŸ™‚

    Like

  10. Chickie says:

    Ok so my banana bread is basically the same as yours, perhaps it is the same. I don’t do the dry vs wet stuff, just far too much trouble πŸ™‚ I start by mashing the bananas, then the sugar/butter/vanilla (omg so hard not to eat half that!), then everything but the flour. I add the flour a cup at a time. Always comes out perfect. So much less work too!

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