There is something really warm, cozy, and wonderful about the smell of banana bread wafting throughout one’s home. It borders on intoxicating, and if I’m honest, my mouth starts to water almost immediately. Another truth? It’s hard to wait for freshly baked banana bread to cool down before slicing into it. Very hard, BUT, it’s worth the short wait because then you have a perfect slice of banana bread. So perfect, you’re likely to have more than one because you just can’t help yourself.
Gummy banana bread can be the result of a few factors, either stand alone or a combination of the following:
Baking time- Often times the Banana bread looks fully baked, where in actuality it isn’t and needs more time in the oven.
Cooling time: too much cooling time while in the pan will make it soggy
Temperature- make sure to use oven thermometer
The banana-to-flour ratio: Adding too much Banana will result in gummier, wetter Banana Bread.
Any of the above can all play a role that leads to a loaf of gummy banana bread.
Did you know that February 23 is officially National Banana Bread day? What better way to prepare and honor such an auspicious day than by baking a pretty much perfect loaf of banana bread? Well, here we’re going to discuss just that, including all the ins and outs of baking an excellent loaf of banana bread, regardless of the recipe you use.
A Brief History of Banana Bread
I find that starting with the history of where a type of food came from, or when it first made its appearance in household kitchens can be particularly interesting.
Bananas were not a common staple food before the emergence of the refrigerator in the 20th century due to their short shelf life during transportation. Refrigeration was a game changer for many foods, but for the banana in particular it went from a novel rarity to part of daily meals, such as breakfast.
It wasn’t until the 1930s, however, that bananas became a real star in their own right. Two things happened during this time:
- The great depression forced people to avoid waste, whereby they couldn’t/wouldn’t allow themselves to throw out food, even if it appeared to be rotting
- The ease of access and availability of baking powder and baking soda
These two occurrences paved the path for banana bread when the use of mashed bananas as a main ingredient, rather than sliced as an adornment, made its debut in many an American cookbook.
The rest is, as they say, history and while banana bread may not have a particularly long history, it has certainly become a staple during its short time in our kitchens.
What is Banana Bread?
Banana bread falls under the category of quick bread. What makes a quick bread, a quick bread you ask? Well, a quick bread is a type of bread that consists of baking powder and or baking soda as well as no need to allow the bread to rest before baking. Banana bread is usually on the sweeter side and moister than conventional bread.
So, Why Is My Banana Bread Gummy?
Ok, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of it all, and suss out how and why your banana bread gets gummy.
There are actually a few reasons why your loaf of banana bread is turning out gummy. Well start with the easier ones and work our way up to the slightly more complicated reasons.
This may seem obvious to some, but it can be very easy to forget when you put your loaf of banana bread in the oven, and while it may look fully baked, in actuality it isn’t (been there and done that).
Ovens, and their temperature settings, vary. We may like to think that they should all work consistently, but that isn’t quite the case. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure how your oven works, but I’ve had an oven that one side that bakes faster than the other forcing me to flip my baking trays mid-bake or place whatever I’m baking (like a loaf of banana bread) off-center in the oven to avoid burning one half and not the other. Go figure.
That being said, it’s usually a matter of getting to know your oven and a fail-safe like putting a timer on, whether on your oven or your phone (or both!) so you don’t forget you have something in the oven.
As I’ve already mentioned, getting to know your oven helps with the perfection of the baking process and ultimately the baked texture of your banana bread.
Have you ever questioned the temperature setting of your oven? I have. Often. I may set it to whatever the recipe I’m following calls for, however, it may not be exactly that temperature. Or perhaps your oven isn’t digital, and your dial isn’t accurate. The solution to this, while not as easy a fix as simply setting a time, isn’t so challenging or difficult to attain either.
Use an oven thermometer to get a more accurate measure of the actual oven temperature. This can help immensely to ensure that you’re baking your banana bread, and of course other baked goods, in your oven. If you want to read more about bread and oven thermometers check out my post The Best Bread and Oven Thermometer You Should Use and Why for all the details and my personal recommendations.
Allowing your banana bread to cool for the right amount of time is actually pretty key. Cooling time is a smidge crucial in that if you slice your perfectly baked banana bread too soon you get a mushier, much gummier texture than you would if you just gave the loaf the time to cool down.
How long should you cool your banana bread? Well, here’s what you need to do to perfectly cool your banana bread and have a slice in 30 – 45 minutes:
- Allow your banana bread to cool in the pan for 10 – 15 minutes. Don’t leave it in the loaf pan for too long, or it will become soggy.
- If you’re using parchment, let it sit with the parchment paper on for another 10 – 15 minutes.
- Finally, remove the parchment paper and let it cool for another 10 – 15 minutes before slicing.
Take the above into consideration and you should have a perfectly cooled loaf of banana bread ready for slicing and enjoying, without compromising on texture.
The Banana-to-Flour Ratio
Getting the banana-to-flour ratio right is absolutely imperative. If you don’t put enough banana, it doesn’t really taste like its namesake and it won’t have that lovely, balanced moistness to it. If you add too much banana, you’re very likely going to get a gummier, wetter, denser kind of pudding-like banana bread. Neither option is very appealing. Knowing how much banana to put in your banana bread is key if you want the right flavor, texture, and consistency in your banana bread.
So, how much banana should you add to your banana bread? Well, the answer is that ideally, we’re talking about one and a half bananas which yield about 1 cup (300g) for every cup (120g) of flour used in the recipe. That being said, there is a little bit of wiggle room here – doing two bananas won’t kill the texture, but veering beyond that is risky territory.
It’s All About the Banana
To make a loaf of great-tasting banana bread, you need to start with quality bananas – they are, after all, the ingredient for which this quick bread is named. When I say quality, I don’t mean brand (obviously) and I don’t even mean “nice” looking bananas.
We’re going after quality flavor in bananas, and how you get quality flavor is by letting them get ripe. Very ripe. So ripe, in fact, that you probably wouldn’t want to eat the banana you use in banana bread.
We’ve all been there, purchased too many bananas, or maybe your family just wasn’t into bananas this past week. Banana bread is the perfect fix – waste not, want not, and eat your cake (or banana bread) too.
Ok, back to the point. How do you get your bananas ripe? Well, you can just let them sit there and allow time to do its favor or if you need to speed things along you can try:
- Tossing your bananas into the freezer – doing this will blacken the peel and soften the banana ever so slightly. While not quite the same as letting the naturally ripen, in a pinch, it will do the trick.
A freezer is also a great option for preserving an already ripe banana and saving it from rotting before you’re ready to bake yourself a loaf of banana bread.
- Throw unpeeled bananas in the oven with the temperature set to 350°F (180°C) until the skin begins to brown, about 30 minutes or so. The peel on the banana will ultimately go black, and the insides will be quite mushy – mushy enough to make mashing for banana bread a breeze.
- Storing them in a paper bag, while not nearly as fast as the oven or freezer method, allows the bananas to ripen naturally in about 1 to 3 days, but far more quickly than they would if simply left on the counter. The hydrocarbon gas the bananas produce as they ripen is trapped in a bag, resulting in a quickening of the ripening process.
- Place your bananas in a bowl, or on the counter, next to a bunch of apples. Apples emit a lot of ethylene gas and fruits, like bananas, that are sensitive to ethylene gas, will ripen faster.
- Poke your unpeeled bananas with a few holes, with a fork, or with a toothpick, and put them in the microwave for thirty-second increments, until you get the texture you’re looking for.
With the above tricks to ripen your bananas, you don’t have to wait too long to make yourself a loaf of banana bread.
A Few More Tips
When it comes to making a mouthwatering, moist, deliciously textured loaf of banana bread, there are a few dos and don’ts you can keep in mind during the baking process.
|Use ripe bananas – they’re sweeter and will lend more of that “banana” flavor your banana bread needs, just to satisfy the name.||Overmix – mix only until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Overmixing can lead to a more dense and rubbery texture to your loaf of banana bread/|
|Mix wet and dry ingredients separately and then combine.||Add too much flour – it will lead to a crumbly cake (follow the recipe)|
|Mash your bananas well. If you don’t mash enough, you’ll get concentrated lumps of banana, rather than a nice consistent spread throughout your loaf.||Deviate from the recipe. A recipe is a formula for a tried and true version of the end result you’re looking for – deviating can wreak all sorts of havoc.|
Following these tips is sure to help your loaf of banana bread game. It will change your whole outlook on banana bread and take it to whole new levels.
Banana bread doesn’t have to be hard, and it really isn’t. Even making sure you don’t end up with a gummy loaf of banana bread isn’t all that hard, so long as you keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, it’s important to follow whatever recipe you’re using. Unless the recipe suggests an alternative, if it’s your first time trying it out, you should definitely follow it as closely as possible. Beyond that it’s fairly simple, stick with the 1 ½ to 2 bananas for every cup of flour used in the recipe, bake for the right amount of time, at the right temperature, and let it cool enough so you can cut yourself a nice slice of banana bread.