I find it almost impossible to follow a recipe to the letter anymore. Somehow I always have this overwhelming urge to change them in some way. A recipe is just a guideline or idea to me. I started tweaking recipes while cooking. It is easy to replace ingredients in a soup, for instance. Soon, however, I found myself changing just about everything including baking recipes.
Baking recipes are a bit trickier to alter than cooking recipes. If you replace the flour with sugar or the eggs with orange juice you might be in trouble. However, it is totally possible to tweak baking recipes and even invent them as long as you know the proportions. You can substitute the fat and sugar to make it more healthy, change the flour type, or put in add-ins to change the flavour. I learned how to do this by slowly adapting and changing ingredients in trusted recipes that I had used many times without fail. Banana bread is one of these.
There are so many banana bread recipes out there, I don’t think I should bother sharing one. This post is mostly a way to pass on some ideas about tweaking baking recipes to suit yourself. The recipe is from my friend Crystal, who makes wicked good banana bread. After each ingredient though I offer suggestions on how you could change it.
You can make them super healthy or really rich. Do it your way and have fun trying new things and make sure to let us know what you come up with!
Banana Bread – your way (adapted from Crystal)
- 3 large overripe bananas (much riper than the ones shown above)
- 3/4 cup sugar (see sugar note)
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup of melted butter (see butter note)
- 1 tsp. of baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cup flour (see flour note)
- added flavours (see flavour note)
- 1/2 cup of optional add-ins (see add-in note)
Preheat your oven to 375*F.
Combine the mashed bananas, sugar and egg and add in the melted butter. Be careful that the butter isn’t too hot. You don’t want to cook your egg.
In a separate bowl combine all remaining ingredients. Mix the two bowls together. Do not overmix or you will ruin the consistency of the bread and make it tough. Just stir until almost all flour is combined.
You can put the batter in muffin tins, loaf pan, square pan or even cake pan. If you have removed the butter (see note below) it will be especially important to grease the pan or line it with muffin liners or parchment.
Depending on what shape pan you use the cooking time may last anywhere from 15-45 minutes. The best way to be sure it is done is to check it by putting a toothpick in the middle and making sure no batter is clinging to it when you pull it out.
You can use any kind of sugar here from white to brown to honey to maple syrup. If you use a liquid sweetner I would go half and half with white sugar. You don’t want to add too much moisture. You might also increase the flour by one tablespoon.
You can also reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup or even eliminate it if you want to go the healthy root. If you eliminate it, add an extra banana or some applesauce or prune puree. You might also add an extra tablespoon of flour to even out the consistency. Be warned though, no sugar will mean they won’t be sweet.
You can replace the butter with neutral flavoured oil like sunflower. You can also eliminate the butter and replace it with buttermilk or apple sauce. If you do this, be sure to line or grease the pan.
You can use almost any type of flour here and there are a lot of varieties like whole wheat, spelt, kamut or rice flour. If you have never tried a flour before, I recommend going half and half with all-purpose white flour. You can also replace a half cup of flour with a half cup of oatmeal here.
You don’t need to add anything, but you can certainly shape this recipe by adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or clove. You can add vanilla or grated citrus zest. If you want to jack-up this banana bread try adding 1-2 Tbsp. of rum or some espresso.
The favorite here would be a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips, but you can also add nuts (pecan, walnut or almond). You could add coconut for a tropical flair. For a healthy version, you could add mixture of seeds like flax, sunflower and millet. Dried fruit or fresh berries are also good options. Depending on how juicy your berries are add a little extra flour. The nuts or other toppings can also be spread on the top of the bread instead of in the batter to form a little crunchy top.
- maple walnut (replace 1/2 cup of sugar with maple syrup and add 1/2 cup of walnuts)
- chocolate orange (add 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and orange zest)
- roasted rum banana (roast the bananas to caramelize them and add some rum)
- browned butter (brown your butter in the pan until it is nutty and brown)
- healthy (lower butter and sugar and add seeds and some bran)
- blueberry lemon (add 1/2 cup of blueberries with 2 Tbsp. extra flour and lemon zest)
- peanut butter (replace butter with PB and add some roasted peanuts)