I like my banana bread moist, nutty and sweet with only a hint of cinnamon so the flavors of the ripe banana and toasted nuts really shine through. I’m always on the hunt for this quick bread nirvana. So cue the happy dance when I finally tweaked the recipe to give me the taste I was after for classic banana bread.
Quick Bread Definition
Quick bread is a baking classification for a bread that uses baking powder and or baking soda to make it rise (leaven) instead of some sort of yeast. This allows the batter to be baked immediately instead of having to rise. Banana bread, as well as zucchini bread and cornbread use a liquid fat, make a batter and rely on mixing the flour as little as possible to not develop gluten and thus produce a light and soft bread.
Standard Loaf Pan Sizes and Why it Matters
In America, the standard rectangle loaf pan measures 8-1/2” x 4-1/2” x 2-1/2” and has a capacity of about 6 cups. There are two other common loaf pan sizes.
The 8” x 4” x 2-1/2” loaf pan has a capacity of 4 cups. And the 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pan has a capacity of 8 cups. While it might seem like a silly distinction of why these three loaf pan sizes differ by 1/2” all around, pay attention to the pan’s capacity. When you are baking bread, you are after that beautiful dome rather than a flat top when the pan is too large for the amount of batter or the opposite problem when the batter overfills the pan and creates burnt mess on the bottom of the oven as well as uneven divots on the top of the bread. The proper size pan to batter ratio is what creates the perfect loaf.
If the recipe doesn’t specify what size of loaf pan to use, follow this Rule of Thumb: fill the pan no more than 2/3 full. By knowing the capacity of your loaf pan and the batter amount will let you do some math and know exactly how many loaf pans (and what size) a recipe will make.
I have loaf pans in all three sizes, but find myself using the smaller 8” x 4” x 2-1/2” pan as my go-to pan for banana bread. The slices are just the right size for snacking and hold together well.
Best Bananas for Banana Bread
Look for bananas that are mostly black and very soft when you squish the fruit. A banana that is still good for snacking on needs more time to ripen for good banana bread. As the fruit ripens the starch is converted to sugar and this is what you are after. If all you can find is a fruit with a smattering of black speckles, and you absolutely have to have banana bread, you can place the not overripe bananas on a baking sheet in the peels and bake in a 300°F oven for about 20 minutes to hasten the process along. Increase the sugar in the recipe by 1 tablespoon and the salt by 1/4 teaspoon to help with the flavor intensity.
Remember you can always freeze bananas that are beyond snacking and thus have the perfect bananas for banana bread on hand. Simply place the whole banana in the freezer and when you are ready, let the blackened fruit thaw on the counter for 15 minutes until you can remove the peel, then blend the still-frozen fruit as the recipe calls for.Print
Inspired by the banana bread served at Flour Bakery in Boston. My go-to classic banana nut bread is moist, full of banana flavor and has just a hint of cinnamon.
- 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and blended until smooth (about 1–1/2 cups)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons sour cream or greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease loaf pan or pans depending on the size.
- Toast nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes until the nuts become fragrant and begin to brown slightly, stirring frequently. Remove the nuts from the pan and chop into small pieces. Set aside.
- In a blender, add the banana and blend until smooth, check the side of the blender container to make sure the blended amount is about 1-1/2 cups.
- Add the oil, sour cream and vanilla and pulse until all the ingredients are incorporated.
- In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and whisk to combine, set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar and eggs using a hand mixer with a whisk attachment on medium speed until pale and very fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the ingredients from the blender to the sugar and egg mixture and blend for 60 seconds more.
- Use a rubber spatula to fold the flour mixture into the banana mixture until no flour streaks can be seen. Being careful not to overmix.
- Add the toasted walnuts and gently fold into the batter until incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the greased loaf pans filling the pan 2/3 full. Do not overfill the pans. This recipe makes 2 loaves of the 8” x 4” x 2-1/2” pans. If you have remaining batter, grease muffin tins and fill the cavities slightly over 1/2 full with the remaining batter.
- Bake in the preheated 325°F oven for 50 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown on top and springs back when you press the center. (A 9×5-inch loaf may take 70 minutes to cook.) The loaves should be golden brown on top and the cake will spring back when you press it or when an instant read thermometer reads 203°F when inserted in the middle of the loaf.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes. When the pan is cool, carefully remove the banana bread from the pan and let the bread finish cooling on a wire rack.
- When completely cool, slice and enjoy. Wrap the remaining bread in foil to keep moist.
This recipe makes 2 loaves when you use 8″ x 4″ x 2-1/2″ loaf pans.
You can leave out the nuts if desired, or substitute pecans for the walnuts.
- Serving Size: 1″ slice
Keywords: banana bread