Banana bread is easy to make, and a reliable way to use up slightly past-it fruit. But there's banana bread, and there's banana bread. Here's how to make a better loaf, and how to freeze it successfully too.
Roast your bananas
Pastry chef and Food Network star Zac Young reckons this is one of the secrets that baking pros bring to truly great banana bread.
This can be a game-changer on two fronts. Let’s say you suddenly have a hankering to make banana bread, but your bananas are barely ripe. Roasting them can save the day. Preheat an oven to 150°C , put the bananas – still in their skins – on a tray and roast for about 20 minutes, until they are soft and the skins have turned black (check them after 15 - it could take less or more than 20 minutes, depending on the bananas and your oven). They will now be soft enough to mash and use. (A quick zap in the microwave will also soften peeled and chopped bananas.)
Even if you’re working with nicely ripe ‘nanas, roasting them can add depth of flavour.
Use frozen fruit
If you want to mix things up by adding blueberries or raspberries, frozen fruit will work well; but don’t defrost it. Adding the fruit still frozen will avoid it bleeding into the batter.
Think outside the square
Beat back any chance of ho-hum banana bread (or comparisons to the efforts of your banana bread baking friends and family!) with twists such as banana bread lamingtons, upside-down caramel banana bread or this genius banana-bread-meets-brownie combo, the triple-layer choc-bottom banana bread:
If you're looking for a wheat-free version, try this one from Desiree Nielsen, host of SBS Food / Channel 33's The Urban Vegetarian. Nielsen's nutty banana bread recipe uses oat flour (you can buy it, or do as she does and make your own by blitzing oats in a blender or food processor); she also uses maple syrup instead of granulated sugar (Nielsen, who is a dietician, loves baking and cakes - but also likes putting a healthier spin on things, and helping those who have digestive issues). "The awesome thing about bananas is that they are already so sweet, particularly when they are ripe," she says, so you don't need as much added sweetener.
Nielsen actually doesn't like eating bananas as they are but she loves them in banana bread. "Banana bread is one of my favourite comfort foods!"
Freeze and defrost the right way
Making two loaves and popping one in the freezer for later – win. Ending up with a disappointing cake that’s turned into a soggy mess, or a gone dry in the freezer – not so much. You can freeze banana bread in great condition for up to six weeks. The trick is to allow the loaf to cool completely; wrap well in cling film and place in a sealable plastic bag and gently expel as much as air as you can before sealing; and then, when you defrost, leave it to thaw at room temperature, still in the bag.
If you’d like to be able to grab a slice at a time, try this seeded banana and pear loaf – the banana, grated fresh pear and natural yoghurt make for a moist bread, and recipe creator Carolyn Griffiths says she slices and freezes this one with pieces of baking paper between the slices.
Join Desiree Nielsen in The Urban Vegetarian, with double episodes airing Mondays at 7.30pm on SBS Food (Channel 33).
Find more inspiration in SBS Food's Banana bread recipe collection - here's a sample:
Move over regular, unadorned banana bread, this one’s a winner! Perfect if you have a crowd coming for weekend brunch. And the best part? This cake's spectacular looks belie how darned quick it is to rustle up.
Sweet potato gives an added dimension here – extra moistness, extra sweetness and a touch of earthiness too. You could use steamed mashed pumpkin if you prefer, substitute wholemeal flour for plain white or, if peanuts don't float your boat, scatter any other nut over the top.
Delicious, healthy and simple to make, these gluten-free muffins use banana, eggs and coconut flour for the batter base.
This banana bread is heaven. The addition of coconut oil adds a wonderful richness and heavenly aroma that you won’t be able to resist. This loaf also keeps well and becomes more moist and flavoursome with time, so try not to eat it all at once! It's wonderful served on its own or toasted and spread with butter or ricotta and drizzled with honey.