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Chef shares best ever banana bread recipe
The COVID-19 crisis has seen people go bananas for banana bread. Here’s RACV pastry chef Josh Cochrane's best recipe ever.
After weeks or even months of social isolation and being confined to the same four walls, millions of people around the world have started to go bananas… For banana bread.
The delicious loaf has emerged the real winner out of the #quarantinebaking trend, taking the mantle as the most Googled recipe during the coronavirus crisis. Searches for the ultimate banana bread recipe peaked in April, outpacing those for pancakes, brownies, chocolate cake and even muffins. And on Instagram, banana bread has amassed more than 1.3 million hashtags.
The banana bread boom leads the way in a global resurgence of comfort baking and a return to making things from scratch, which clinical psychologist and mindfulness consultant Richard Chambers says is all part of an inherent human coping mechanism in times of crisis.
“When you’re baking and giving a recipe your full attention, tuning into the sensory qualities – the tastes and the smells and the textures and the sounds – you’re deeply connected to the process," he says. "Any time we connect with the senses, it brings us into the present. That’s mindfulness and it makes us feel better.”
Whether you’re baking for comfort or just really love a slice of sweet, hot-buttered banana bread, RACV executive pastry chef Josh Cochrane shares his ultimate recipe – plus his top tips for aceing the bake. No saggy centres here.
Six banana bread baking hacks
Avoid the sag
Saggy bread got you feeling a little deflated? Might be time to check the expiry on your bicarb soda or baking powder. In the absence of yeast, these are what help the banana bread rise, giving it that oh-so-delightful fluffiness.
If your leavening agents aren’t the issue, the cooking time might be. Air bubbles in the batter are what cause your bread to rise so, if you take it out before it’s set properly, it will collapse.
Put down the spoon! Overmixing is one of the biggest killers of good banana bread. The trick is to stir gently, and as little as possible, so as not to disturb the gluten and make your bread tough and rubbery. If you’re worried any lumps won’t be totally incorporated, mix until the ingredients are just combined, then rest the batter for 20 minutes. This will allow the bubbles created by the bicarb soda or baking powder to help dissolve any lumps of dry flour.
What about mix ins?
The great thing about banana bread is how versatile it is. Got some walnuts in the cupboard? Chop ’em up and add them in. Want a little afternoon indulgence – try some chocolate chips. It’s your comfort bake so add in whatever you feel like.
When life gives you bananas, can you make muffins?
Want banana muffins instead of banana bread? While the basic ingredients will be about the same, the cooking time and temperature are not. To make your loaf recipe muffin-friendly you’ll need to increase the oven temperature and decrease the cooking time.
You're batter than that
Banana bread batter should generally be a bit thicker and a little lumpier than muffin batter. If your dough is too wet and runny, add a teaspoon of flour. If it’s too thick, add a splash of milk.
How ripe is too ripe?
The riper the better. Whether your bananas are looking like smiling yellow leopards or more like pumas, it’s all good. Plus, ripe bananas are easier to mash and they add extra moisture, sweetness and flavour.
Josh Cochrane's Best Banana Bread Ever
- 260 grams plain flour
- 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon powder
- 15 grams baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 110 grams butter
- 320 grams brown sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 160 millilitres warm milk
- 1.5 tablespoons honey
- 4 eggs
- 6 large ripe bananas, mashed
- 120 grams walnuts, crushed
- Preheat a fan-forced oven to 160°C.
- Lightly coat a 24cm x 10cm loaf tin with non-stick spray and line with baking paper, leaving a generous overhang on long sides.
- Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to evenly disperse.
- Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat brown sugar, warm milk, vanilla extract, honey and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition and scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
- Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Be careful not to overmix at this stage as it will toughen the mixture. Add bananas and mix until just combined. Fold in walnuts.
- Scrape batter into prepared pan, being careful to keep the side of the tin clean. Smooth the top and place in the oven. (If you have extra bananas, you can even slice one in half and place on top.)
- Bake for approximately 60–65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let the bread cool in the pan for one hour. Turn out and allow to cool completely before slicing.
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