Banana bread

This recipe comes from one of my Dartmouth pals. It is a super dense version of banana bread cake. Oops! Did I say bread? Did I mean cake? This recipe definitely pushes the borderline. But it is my definitive favorite banana bread recipe!

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mash the bananas to an even consistency. Try to use overripe bananas if you can. (If you need some, check your local coffee shop.) And usually 2 large and 1 small banana is just enough for 1.5 C. I usually mash my ‘naners in a 2C measuring cup to make sure I have enough. When you’re done mashing, transfer them to a large bowl.

Mashin da 'naners!

Melt the butter in a bowl. Set aside to cool slightly. Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl: flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Now you’ll want to prepare your buttermilk. I very rarely go out of my way to get the 0.5 C of buttermilk for this recipe. What you can do is use a substitute. Buttermilk is basically acidic milk (ha! do you get the word play?). And we’re going to add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to the buttermilk to start the production of CO2. SCIENCE!

Buttermilk alternative #1: If you have whole milk, you can add a bit of acid, either in the form of lemon juice or vinegar, and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Buttermilk alternative #2: If you have powdered buttermilk on hand (and if you want to get into baking, this is an essential!), you can use that. Normally with powdered buttermilk, you’d add the powder to the dry ingredients and the equal amount of water to the liquids, but we’re going to do that acid-soda reaction, so we need to make the buttermilk. I’ve found that dissolving the powder in water is next to impossible, but you CAN dissolve it in cold nonfat milk! So measure you’re half cup of nonfat milk, add 2 T of the powder and whisk to dissolve. Let it sit for 5 minutes. I did this method.

I love Saco powedered buttermilk. Store it in the fridge once it's opened.

My faux buttermilk

Ok, so now that you have made the buttermilk, let’s do some science! Add the 1 t of baking soda to the buttermilk, whisk, and let it stand for another 5 minutes. Report your observations. Observation: bubbles form.

Bubbly buttermilk!

What’s happening? Let’s think about this from the perspective of the buttermilk alternative #1. You have an acid in the milk from the vinegar: acetic acid (HC2H3O2). We’re adding baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). These two chemicals will react:

HC2H3O2 + NaHCO3 → NaC2H3O2 + H2O + CO2 (g)

We’ll lookie there! Gas is formed! So that’s where all of the bubbles come from!


That’s the specific example of the vinegar buttermilk, but the same reaction will occur where the baking soda reacts with an acid to make a salt, water, and carbon dioxide. So if you don’t see bubbles you might want to add a bit more acid. Ok, I’m  done.

Now that the fun part is done, let’s finish this. The butter by now should have cooled. Add it to the mashed bananas and mix well. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, and mix well. (You need the butter to cool so you don’t scramble the eggs.)

Eggs over naners

After the buttermilk + baking soda has been sitting for 5 minutes, add it to the banana mixture. Mix well. Finally add the dry ingredients mixture. Mix until just combined.

Banana-y heaven

Prepare you bread pans by spraying with a non-stick spray. Normally this recipe should be split into 2 bread pans, but I’m going to need my second one for some persimmon bread later today, so I squeezed this bread all into one pan.

It's gonna be one big ol' banana bread

Bake the bread. If 2 loaves, this should take 40-50 minutes. For one giant loaf, it will take 60-70 minutes. Just keep checking the bread with a toothpick. If you insert the toothpick, and it comes out clean, the bread is done. Cool in the pan for 10-20 minutes, and then use a knife to loosen the edges, and remove the bread gently from the pan.


Slice and enjoy!

So soft and delicious!



2 thoughts on “Banana bread

  1. I have ripe bananas right now…think I might try the recipe! I knew you could add lemon juice to milk to substitute for buttermilk, but now I know the science behind it – interesting! 🙂

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