What's the most searched-for bread recipe online?
Hint: an example is pictured above.
With nearly 1.2 million searches every month for the recipe, this particular bread is obviously a favorite of foodies everywhere. Or maybe it's simply the Holy Grail of bread recipes: much sought after, never found.
I'm sure by now the visual clue above has given you the answer: banana bread.
Yes, banana bread. Not sandwich bread, or whole wheat bread, or baguettes, or no-knead or zucchini. Just that comfortable old denizen of years gone by – dark, moist, tasty banana bread.
It stands alone atop the search charts. It's what American bakers are looking for.
So, who cares? Well, here at King Arthur Flour, we do. We've always got our eyes peeled for trends, hot baked goods (both literally, and figuratively), and anything else that can tell us what you, our customers, want and need.
My particular area of responsibility here is our online recipe section. While previously I wrote King Arthur's cookbooks, now I tend our flock of nearly 2,000 online recipes: making sure they're clear, correct, and garnering good reviews.
I also create new recipes where I find holes. For instance, one of the most searched-for cake recipes online is Red Velvet. Does our recipe site offer a Red Velvet Cake recipe? Not yet... Ditto whole wheat muffins. Apricot coffeecake. And raisin scones.
Like the old E.F. Hutton ad from the ’70s, when you speak... I listen.
Thus my recent focus on banana bread.
Do we have a banana bread recipe in our King Arthur Flour recipe archives?
You betcha. In fact, we have two very highly rated banana bread recipes.
The one you see pictured at the top of this post is our 100% Whole Wheat Banana Bread, with over 200 very enthusiastic reviews.
And this one, our Guaranteed Banana Bread, a more traditional white-flour version, albeit with a secret twist.
Customer five-star reviews: 34.
And then there are the banana bread recipes on our Baking Circle community: a total of 32 different recipes, last time I checked.
Including this Decadent Banana Bread, posted by community member robynechristmas20.
Super moist, super tasty. Just waiting for a smear of cream cheese.
So, did you enter one of those 1.2 million online searches for a banana bread recipe last month? Or, are you on a lifelong search for the PERFECT banana bread, like I am?
If so, I can't say your search ends here. After all, one baker's perfect banana bread is another's "feh..." But the following 100% Whole Wheat Banana Bread is the most popular version on our site, so give it a try. Even if it doesn't make your list of bookmarks, I guarantee you'll enjoy the experiment.
Are you a nuts-in-banana-bread person, or not? Apparently there are two camps: the purists (no nuts, no spices), and the adventurers (nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg...) If you fall into the latter group, check out this $9.95 nut grinder. We've been selling it for YEARS, and it never seems to wane in popularity.
Just a simple turn of the handle...
...yields nicely chopped nuts. Turn the handle one way for a finer dice (left); the other, for more coarsely chopped nuts.
Next, the bananas. Aren't these lovely?
TOO lovely. Save them for your bowl of cereal.
The best banana bread is made with overripe bananas. The riper they are, the sweeter and more "banana-y" they taste.
Trust me, these bananas will be SUPER-sweet.
What if you've got a hankering for banana bread, and can't wait for those pretty yellow bananas to turn brown?
Banana flavor to the rescue! Just 1/4 teaspoon intensifies the banana flavor of not-quite-ripe-enough bananas.
Ready to bake? Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Let's start with the bananas. We're looking for 1 1/2 cups of mashed bananas for this recipe, but how would you know how many bananas that is, until you mash them?
Luckily, 1 pound of unpeeled bananas mashes down to just about 1 1/2 cups of banana purée. So, peel those bananas (about 3 medium-large), break into pieces, and put into your mixing bowl.
Mix until well blended. There'll probably be some random small chunks of banana floating around in there; that's just fine.
Scrape the bananas out of the bowl into another bowl or cup, and set them aside.
Put the following into the bowl:
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, light or dark
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix until well combined.
Add 1/4 cup honey, 2 large eggs...
...and the bananas. Mix until well combined.
Time out for a tip: Most banana bread recipes call for mashed bananas, right? So after I made this bread the traditional way, by mashing the bananas first, I wondered, why bother? Why mash them first, when they're going to get all mashed up with the other ingredients, anyway?
Try this: beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Then add the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and banana chunks, beating until very well combined. You'll have a few scattered bits of banana, but no more than if you'd mashed the bananas first. Finally, beat in the honey and eggs. Worked just fine. Time saver!
Remember, if your bananas weren't quite ripe enough - 1/4 teaspoon banana flavor is a loaf-saver.
Next, the final key ingredient: flour. Choose 2 cups (8 ounces) King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat Flour, either Premium, or White Whole Wheat. The two are nutritionally equal; milder White Whole Wheat lacks the traditional, more assertive flavor of Premium.
Beat gently, just to combine.
Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desired. Walnuts are traditional; pecans are good, too.
Spoon the batter into the pan, smoothing the top, and/or tapping the pan gently to settle the contents.
Let the bread rest at room temperature for 10 minutes; this gives the baking soda a good chance to get going.
Bake the bread for 50 minutes.
It'll dome nicely. Bake for an additional 10 minutes; a long toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean.
If you have an instant-read thermometer, use it. When the center of the loaf climbs over 190°F, it's a good bet it's baked all the way through.
Remove the bread from the oven. After 10 minutes, loosen its edges with a heatproof spatula or table knife, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.
It's tempting, but don't cut the bread until it's cool.
This is a rather close-textured bread, and slices nicely without crumbling. As I mentioned earlier, a smear of cream cheese (and dab of strawberry jam, or fig-walnut preserves) wouldn't be amiss.
Nor would peanut butter, for all you PB & B sandwich fans out there.
Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Banana Bread.