Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Banana bread woes.

My baking has been "off" lately.  I don't know why. 

Maybe it's the sudden drop in temperature here in VA.  Maybe it's because, as much as I try to tell myself that Halloween just passed and Thanksgiving is next on deck, I can't help but keep a mental checklist for that "other" holiday.  Maybe it's a lack of Vitamin D.

Or maybe it's the simple, biological fact that I am the keeper of two X chromosomes and damn it, sometimes it shows.  In my baked goods, even.

Whenever I make banana bread, the center takes so long to set and the sides and top turn out SO dark.  Almost burnt.  What's the secret?  Do I need to use a bigger loaf pan?  Cover it with foil?  Pray for divine intervention?

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Recipe from Epicurious
Makes one 9-inch loaf

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a small bowl, toss the chocolate chips a little bit of flour.  This will keep the chips from sinking to the bottom.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until incorporated like an 80's kid's television show starring a very young Jennifer Love Hewitt (or Martika, if you want to dig really deep.)

 Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Add the banana, lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Beat well.

Mix in the flour mixture until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into your loaf pan and bake until it passes the toothpick test.  The recipe said it would take about 1 hour and 5 minutes but mine was ready at 55 minutes.  So yeah, keep an eye on it.

I cut a slice and brought it with me to the computer.  No fancy pictures, no colorful backdrop...I had to warm up to it first.

See what I mean?  Tales from the dark sides.

I eventually stopped critiquing it and had a bite.  It was actually pretty delicious.  I just need to do something about those sides.



  1. is it just this particular dish that burns and nothing else? where is your rack set?

    my oven is an old fart, you'd think i'd spring for a new one as opposed to pay for a trip to spain for xmas or plan for a U2 concert that's not occuring until June 2011... priorities you know... anyway, knowing this, i always underbake my stuff and about halfway thru, i turn the pan so that if there's browning/burning happening, it's even.

    also, preheat your oven for at least 15-20 minutes before baking. maybe that'll help?

    last things:
    1. love love love the reference to kids incorporated, completely forgot jennifer loves to spewitt was on that show, wasn't fergie as well?!

    2. thx for tip about chips coated with flour prevent sinking to bottom, i didn't know that!

  2. It's only this. Banana bread is the bane of my baking existence. I bake it on the middle rack but might try moving it up a notch next time. And I *always* forget to rotate my pan...gotta do that, too.

    Spain + U2 > new oven, IMO. I'd say your priorities are in check.

    Fergie! AC Slater, too! K-I-D-S.

  3. Do you always use this banana bread recipe when you make banana bread? Also, what kind of pan are you using?

  4. Yeah I was gonna blame it on the oven, too. Weird though if it only happens with banana bread. Still, you might want to get an oven thermometer (they are like $5 on Amazon) and check yours to see. It may not only be mis-calibrated, but also have all kinds of weird wonkiness and cause things to come out uneven.

  5. Celia - I think this is the 3rd recipe I've tried. I use a nonstick loaf pan, too.

    Liam - I think I'll order an oven thermometer. The oven was a few years old when we moved in 3 years ago. Not exactly ancient but still worth checking out. In the meantime, I'll have to stick to burn-free banana muffins.

  6. as a chemist, i know that times i am off, but i learn more and make new serendipitous findings from the time. good luck ahead and keep us posted on what you learn from this new trial.
    by the way, i would still eat the food. your baking on a bad day looks tastier than mine on a good one

  7. Kids Incorporated....K-I-D-S.....
    Loved that show.

  8. Kids, Inc., LOL. Scott Wolf, of Party of Five, was on there too.

    My HS classmates and I once made hundreds of banana bread loaves to sell as a fundraiser. I hate naners and that just made me hate it more.

    I agree with the other commenters, oven? recipe? bakeware?

  9. Matt - thanks!

    Kristan - loved the show, too. Possibly loved the theme song even more.

    Margie - Scott Wolf was also on SBTB. Pre-Bailey, of course. And dude...that's a lot of banana to be around.

  10. Ali, if it were me I'd say goodbye to banana bread completely. But if you're determined to stay in the relationship, maybe putting it on the top rack instead of the middle will help.

  11. Wendi - I wish I knew how to quit banana bread. Perhaps I'll give it *one* more go (on the top rack) and if it's a failure, I'll have to rely on my mom as my supplier.

  12. wow...kids incorporated was one of my faves back in the day. i used to watch that and the new MMC. definitely an 80s child. :)

    that banana bread still looks yummy...i'd def eat it.

  13. I have a darker non-stick loaf pan that always cooks banana bread darker than the lighter loaf pan. I don't understand it...maybe it's the pan after all? Totally frustrating because banana bread is the best! Maybe try making big daddy muffins with the same batter? I've done that before too...

  14. Bake for five minutes at 350*,then turn down to 325*-330*. Try baking at 325* for a longer time. That usually works for me. I also switched to glass for the most part. That way you can keep an eye on it's browning.

  15. Kat - M-I-C...see ya real soon...

    Baking Serendipity - the pan I used is a darker pan, too. I think we're onto something...

    Lonely Radish - great suggestion. I should have picked up on that the first 3-4 times this happened but I'm such a wuss when it comes to changing temps.

    Thanks for all of the feedback, people. Banana bread should not be this challenging!

  16. HI, you're definitely onto something with the pan! I'm a baker, and all my favorite pastry chefs/bakers have warned against the darker pan. Go with the light aluminum pan, use a Taylor oven thermometer, and hopefully your banana bread woes will be no more! :)

    Thanks for sharing. Banana bread is too delicious to give up.

  17. Ummm, Ali...did Kate and Ben make this cake from the sandbox?? Reminds me of their mulch mud pie after a good rain. Please don't do this to yourself. Take it from your big sis, it's okay. Let it go. You have plenty of awesome tricks up your baking sleeve. Surrender. Please. It's only because I love you.

  18. Gallo Girl - I think it's time to get a lighter pan. It would pain me to give up something so yummy. Thanks for stopping by :D

    Michele - as your little sis, I know you would demolish this after a few glasses of Malbec.

  19. I'm always loved banana bread but chocolate chip on the inside. That sounds amazing.

  20. Mine turns Brown on the inside from about half way all the way down. The outside is perfect n it tastes good. Idk what this is