My Perfect (Banana) Loaf

I’m a sucker when it comes to the reduced priced sections at the supermarkets, and yesterday’s shopping trip was no different: I bagged, among other things, a couple of bread rolls for only 11p, and two bunches of small-ish bananas for 30p each.

Buying bananas beyond their best is admittedly a hit-and-miss affair with me because, even though I’m generally not a fussy-eater, I’m not a fan of overly-squishy bananas; if they’re partly black then I’ll discard that bit. Disappointingly, once I got home and inspected my goodies I found these bananas to be more black and squishy than not: they were worst ones I’d bought to date. Would I have to toss the whole lot on the compost heap? “Fear not!” I thought, “There must be a way to salvage them… perhaps they’re safe to use in Banana Bread or something…” I consulted Google.

Indeed, overly ripe bananas turned out to be ideal for banana bread, great! And in addition to this discovery, there were also recipes for bread machines too. Double-great! The only conundrum was the multitude of recipes to choose from; there seemed to be no concrete method for making banana bread in a bread machine, some recipes called for plain flour, others said to use bread flour, some weren’t clear about how much banana was needed for a loaf, “2/3rds of a cup”… who measures bananas by the cup-load!?* and others had what seemed to be overly complicated methods for preparing the bananas, milk, and sugar. I prefer simple and straightforward; if the loaf turns out right I’ll add my own complications to future loafs.

In the end, with some comparing with the recipes I found online, I used the Banana Bread recipe in my recently acquired copy of the actual recipe book for my actual bread machine – while on face value you’d think an official recipe book included with a branded bread machine would be well-researched and expertly compiled, I’ve been sceptical since I noticed a vast amount of poor/sloppy editing and likely-looking mistakes, so this wasn’t my first port of call which is why used the internet as my primary point of reference. As I said though, I did in the end base my recipe on the bread machine book one and just tweaked it a little here and there (a mix of water and milk instead of milk powder, a little less sugar, only 1 egg, no macadamia nuts… some recipes call for baking powder and other stuff.)

The result?

A perfect loaf, by my standards. And by perfect, I mean by how it formed; flavours can be adjusted to suit – I was just keen to use up some bananas in a successful loaf.

The shape of the loaf turned out great – no sagging, and when I cut into it for my first slice the consistency was spot-on and pretty consistent throughout – none of that dense at the bottom and overly-fluffy or hollow at the top as my loafs tend to be! Read on for a disclaimer though.

The ingredients:

100ml water + 25ml milk

2 tablespoons of margarine

3 small/medium overly-ripe bananas, mashed

1 egg

1.5 teaspoons of salt

2 tablespoons of sugar

520g plain flour

2 teaspoons of yeast

The method:

My machine is to be loaded liquid first, others are apparently different. So, I added the water/milk, margarine, mashed bananas (this is the most involving bread machine loaf I’ve attempted since it required me to actually mash the bananas with a fork!), egg, salt and sugar. I then added the flour, followed by the yeast into a well in the top of the flour. The machine is then set to “Sweet” instead of the Basic Bread setting I’m familiar with. I set mine to the smallest loaf size and lightest crust. I think the Sweet setting just has a slightly shorter program/cooking time compared to a standard loaf setting. Once complete, set on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes to cool before slicing.

I used mostly water since I didn’t have any milk powder as most recipes call for, and I didn’t want to use up too much milk (water is pretty much free), and to continue with the cheap theme I used only one egg; other recipes used more. I reduced the sugar as I tend to do (bananas are high in sugars already). Alternatively you could try using 125ml of milk, or even, for extra bonus points, use off milk as I often do [link], I’m sure it would be fine for banana bread too.

The disclaimer

It must be said that the condition and size of the bananas will be the variable in all of this. From what I understand, a little more water/milk may be required for bananas that aren’t so squishy (hence the convoluted method of measuring them by others). My loaf could just have been a lucky first attempt; I guess I’ll find out when I come to use up the rest of those bananas!

Other recipes used different flours; I guess “use what you have to hand” is the key here.

*Answer: Americans

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4 comments

  1. Banana muffins:
    3 ripe (frozen and then microwaved) bananas.
    1 stick butter (melted)
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 cup molasses
    2 eggs
    — Mix that —
    — Then add —
    3 cups AP flour
    1 tsb baking power
    1 tsb backing soda
    1/2 tsb salt
    1 tb cinnamon
    1 tb pumpkin spice
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts
    — Mix that —
    Scoop with ice cream scoop into muffin tin (well oiled, no papers).
    Bake 350F about 20 min or until the right color

    I make these so often I have the recipe memorized.

    • And that’s a longer recipe to memorise! I do like muffins so I might consider these for an alternative… how many muffins does it make? Some modification would be required: I’m lacking a freezer, molasses, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and an ice cream scoop (no freezer = no ice cream = no need for an ice cream scoop!)

      • I think a 4oz icecream scoop produces about 15 muffins.
        Another recipe I memorized was for molasses & ginger cookies where the key is three tb of pureed ginger (squeeze bottle) — way more than is usually called for.

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