The Ninth Doctor was known to carry a banana in his pocket “just in case”, in the wildly popular sci-fi series Doctor Who. In case of what, you say? Well in case he wanted to make banana bread of course! Okay, okay, before any Doctor Who fans start getting angry, the Doctor never did say why he had the banana or make banana bread out of it. That we know of at least. But if he had had this recipe he probably would have!
- 2-3 bananas, the riper the better
- 1/3 Cup of butter, melted. Either salted or unsalted
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 pinch salt
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or measure with your heart)
- 1 cup of walnuts, chopped rough or fine, depending on preference (Optional).
- Preheat your over to 350 degrees F
- Make sure to spray or butter your loaf pan, which will stop the banana bread from sticking to the pan.
- Peel your ripe bananas and either mash them to a smooth consistency in your bowl or throw them into your mixer and allow it to do the mashing for you. Make sure the bananas are completely smooth, to help integrate into the rest of the mixture easily.
- After mashing your bananas, add in the melted butter and mix
- Add in your baking soda and salt. Mix up the concoction again.
- Add sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Mix it up.
- Mix in the all-purpose flour.
- Add in the chopped walnuts. This step can be skipped, depending on preference or allergies.
- Measure and add the amount of chocolate chips you want in your bread. Mix up the batter.
- Pour the batter into your loaf pan. Make sure to smooth the batter out to all four corners, so that it cooks evenly
- Bake the banana bread in the oven for 55-63 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown. To test the loaf, make sure to stick something into it, like a skewer or a toothpick, ensuring that it comes out clean. Depending on the amount of moisture in the bananas or how many chocolate chips are added to the batter, the loaf may require more time to cook.
- Upon removing it from the oven, allow the banana bread to cool for a bit of time before removing it from the loaf pan
Make sure your bananas are ready
Before you just rush off and start making bread, it’s important to think about the condition of your bananas. Green bananas are not going to work at all. Yellow bananas are better but still not really what you want. Bananas that are getting spotty and soft? Jackpot! Not only will the overripe bananas be easier to mix into the batter, but they will taste way better too. As bananas ripen, and then overripen, they convert their fiber into sugar making them sweeter. And yes, they do this even after they have been picked.
If your bananas aren’t ripe enough yet, you can speed the process up by placing them in a brown paper bag and closing it up. This helps to trap the ethene (formally called ethylene) that the bananas give off as they ripen. Ethene is not only created by ripening fruit but speeds up the ripening process. Catching it all in a paper bag helps to speed the whole process up. Just don’t forget the bananas once you put them in there or you’ll have a gross mess when you do find them again.
Timing may be tricky for cooking banana bread
This recipe has a few elements that make the baking time tricky. First off, there’s the chocolate chips. They can start to burn if they are in direct contact with the pan, especially without batter around them. Even if the rest of the bread isn’t done baking the chocolate may start to burn. The best way to prevent this is to make sure that the chips don’t rest directly against the top of your loaf pan. Obviously, you can’t keep all the chips from touching the pan, if any are touching around the top I suggest moving them off the metal.
Another touchy factor is the bananas themselves. Remember when I was talking about the different ripeness of the bananas? Well the riper the banana the moister it is. And you will never, ever make this bread with bananas that have the same level of ripeness twice, it’s just impossible. This affects how wet the batter is. Wetter batter takes longer to cook so the cooking time is never going to be the same. That’s just a fact that you have to accept. Set a timer and make sure to check the bread often so that it cooks fully but doesn’t burn.
Now if your bread is taking longer to cook but the top is getting brown already, the simple solution is aluminum foil. Cover the bread loosely with aluminum foil once it has reached your ideal color and let it keep baking. The inside will bake but the outside won’t burn. Problem solved.
Size is relative when baking
This recipe is for your standard loaf pan. Standard, what a lovely word. Technically a standard loaf pan is 4.5” by 8.5”. But there’s been a push towards simpler numbers in baking pan sizes so there are both 4” by 8” pans and 5” by 9” pans that are considered standard. The difference in cooking time is negligible.
Obviously the 5” by 9” needs a little longer but because the cooking time is already so variable it’s not really a big deal. Just make sure to test your bread with the poke test. Stick something (a toothpick, a dowel, a skewer, a knife, you get the picture) into the loaf in about the center (at least one inch away from any walls). If the poker comes out clean, the bread is done. One or two crumbs are okay, but no wet batter coating it! Also, make sure you don’t stick your poker right into a chocolate chip or that will mess your judgment all up.
Now back to what I was talking about with size. This recipe is intended for a standard loaf pan. But that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to just a standard loaf pan. This recipe can be split into mini loaves, great for sharing, or freezing if you only want a little at a time. It will also make a tray of muffins. Then they become the perfect grab-and-go breakfast! Of course, the cook times will have to be adjusted. Start the muffins off at 15 minutes and the mini loaves off at 30 minutes. Then do a poke check and adjust your time from there.
Be creative with your banana bread recipe
I know I almost always include a section about changing the recipe for yourself. But that’s because you should make food that you enjoy. And sometimes that means tweaking a recipe a little. Now I do always recommend following the recipe the first time you cook something. That way you’ll know how it’s “supposed” to taste, and you can make your adjustments from there.
So can you be creative with banana bread? Perhaps you could add some raisins (don’t add raisins, nothing needs raisins added, ever. In fact if there are already raisins in it, skip them) or walnuts make a great addition. Half a cup of peanut butter gives this bread an excellent flavor.
Some creativity in the presentation is nice too. I am not great at presentation personally, no finesse, but it can make things feel just a little fancier. Especially if this bread is being served to guests instead of hoarded and eaten straight out of the pan.
I’d personally recommend melting some chocolate to drizzle over the top. Sprinkle some chopped walnuts and chopped banana chips over the drizzled chocolate and now you’ve got something really special to serve at tea! Just remember to take a slice, not half the loaf (I don’t care if you sliced it. If it’s more than an inch thick, it’s a hunk, not a slice). And as always, enjoy!
Doctor Who returns with three new specials in November. Will you be making this banana bread to celebrate or your own special Doctor Who-inspired recipe? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.