Moist Whole Wheat Banana Bread

As if the world needs another banana bread recipe, right?

Well, if you’re conflicted like I am about balancing pure culinary delight with a modicum of health and nutrition, then you’ll find this moist whole wheat banana bread recipe a worthy contribution. It satisfies on all levels.

This is straight out of Whole Grain Baking by King Arthur Flour. I tweak it very slightly in the video but I’m not sure it’s to any advantage. The video, by the way, is quite unnecessary as the instructions below are more than adequate. But I do have fun shooting them and like to think there’s a chance someone will pick up a thing or two from watching.

Note: If you want to get wild and crazy, try adding a half cup of dried sweetened cranberries or, as my chocoholic wife quickly discovered, a half cup of semi sweet chocolate chips will send banana bread lovers over the top and maybe convert a few critics.

Enjoy!

Moist Whole Wheat Banana Bread Recipe and Instructions:

Be sure to use ultra ripe bananas for this. Their skins should be mottled black and they should feel soft to the touch. Using what you would normally consider to be ripe bananas will diminish the bread’s rich flavor.

½ cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter
½ cup (3 ¾ ounces) packed light or dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (~ 12 ounces) mashed ripe banana (3-4 medium to large bananas)
¼ cup (3 ounces) honey (I used sugar – works fine)
2 large eggs
2 cups (8 ounces) whole wheat flour, traditional or white whole wheat (I found that 2 cups was closer to 10 ounces – guess my whole wheat is heavy)
½ cups (2 ounces) chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

Beat together the butter, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the banana, honey and eggs, beating until smooth. Add the flour and nuts, stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and let it rest at room temperature, uncovered for 10 minutes.

Bake the bread for 50 minutes. Lay a piece of foil gently across the top and bake until a cake tester (like a toothpick) inserted into the center comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.

Handy Tip: If you don’t happen to have ultra ripe bananas around and don’t want to wait for yours to get that way, click here for an easy work around. Thanks to Melody for this.

High Altitude Baking Notes: Barbara posted some successful high altitude adjustments she made to this recipe. She lives at 6000 feet. Thanks Barbara!

{ 227 comments… read them below or add one }

Camille LOiseau September 30, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Use half molasses and half honey. It creates a much richer flavor.

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Robert September 9, 2010 at 10:08 pm

I have a loaf cooling now. Can’t wait to taste it.

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Scarlett May 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I substituted ganja butter instead of regular butter :):):)

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Larry April 17, 2010 at 4:50 am

Thanks Eric:

your sourdough starter with pinnaple juice has made me a better bread baker. I have a whole wheat and white wheat starter which I use every week. Thanks again

Larry

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undermind March 30, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Eric,

I just read in your setup above for this recipe that the video was “unnecessary” as the instructions are quite adequate.. I just have to say that I used to hate videos online. I always felt like I was wasting my time with them; I’d rather just READ. But I gotta say, my favorite thing about this site is the video. They’re fun to watch, and they really help. One thing that really goes a long way with me is just seeing a real human making real food in a real kitchen. Not a culinary school graduate making food with impossible to find ingredients chopped by a seue chef and cooked in a Viking oven on a kitchen set in LA!!

Keep up the good work!!

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Tanya March 23, 2010 at 8:53 pm

One more thing…bake the recipe in muffin cups for 20-22 minutes, and that way it’s pre-portioned – you’ll never eat too much! :-)

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Tanya March 23, 2010 at 8:52 pm

If you want to make this recipe even better, or to try to convince members of your family who don’t like the texture of typical whole wheat, make this with the King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat flour. White wheat is from the softest part of the wheat germ. It’s still 100% whole wheat, but softer, so its texture is more like white flour. It costs a bit more at the store (I think $1.50 more) but it’s really worth it to me.

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marjana March 22, 2010 at 11:04 am

I guess the best suggestion that I could make Gayle is the author should have put 8 ounces of whatever type of flour you are going to use. I didnt weigh mine and doubled the recipe and mine were great with FOUR cups of whole wheat flour. Go figure.
BTW i DO acatually understand the difference. that is why i asked the question : is it 8 -10 ounces or can i just use the cups measurement. never made bread before so was not sure how important that part was.

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Richard March 22, 2010 at 10:31 am

Yeah , A little late but I seem to remember I would have done just 2 cups.

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Gayle March 22, 2010 at 9:59 am

Marjana: You are confusing dry and liquid measurements. Two cups liquid equals 16 oz. but two cups of a dry ingredient like flour can vary in weight according to what the ingredient is and even vary by brands I guess. So, two cups of one type flour can weigh more or less than two cups of another type or brand of flour.

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Breadtopia March 21, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Oh, that. Just use 2 level cups. Should be fine.

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marjana March 21, 2010 at 2:17 pm

yes , in the recipe it says 2 cups of flour. anytime earlier in the recipe when it put stuff in parenthesis it was the total amount. then when it gets to the wheat it says 2 cups (8 ounces) and then goes on to say hers came out to be about 10 ounces. so i am confused. really ready to cook this bread and cant until i know which it is… how much flour in total cups or total ounces. I am not good in the kitchen and am a linear thinker. not good at extapolation.
thanks

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marjana March 21, 2010 at 11:22 am

Okay i must be stupid , last time i checked one cup was 8 ounces. Is it 8-10 ounces or 2 cups (16 ounces) total. this is a huge difference and my bananas are ready to cook. please somenone that has made this can you help???

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Breadtopia March 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Hi Marjana,

Which ingredient are you referring to. One cup of water is 8 ounces but there’s no water in this recipe so are you asking about the whole wheat?

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LeAnna March 14, 2010 at 11:02 am

I am dieting at this time so I changed a few things around, But this was wonderful!!!!! I put apple sauce in place of butter, splenda in place of honey, it was a great and had fewer cal …. thanks

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Pru February 25, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I tried this recipe with some variation to it. I creamed the butter and sugar along with 1/4 cup peanut butter. I also added 3/4 cup chocolate chips and 1/3 cup oats at the end. It was a taste of all worlds.

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Valerie February 24, 2010 at 10:17 am

Im trying this recipe now. I added a quarter cup peanut butter to the mix. IF I was really brave I would have added some crunchy bacon and called it my Elvis bread but for today he’s just getting peanut butter and banana bread” mamma” LOL

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Sara January 26, 2010 at 11:57 am

Fantastic recipe. I have a hard time not adding chocolate chips to my quick breads so I did, I left out the nuts and added a half cup of chips. I also had 5 bananas and didn’t want to have one ripe one left over so I used them all. And I added 1/3 cup coconut. Baked at 350 in a bunt demarle pan for about an hour. My whole family loved it. I think this will be my go-to recipe for banana bread from now on.

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Erika Mørup January 20, 2010 at 5:49 pm

1. Will this recipe work as is with whole grain spelt?

2. I would love to see a 100% whole wheat version for a zucchini bread too. :)

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Breadtopia December 15, 2009 at 9:01 am

Hi Jbeen,

I hope to implement a feature like that soon. In the mean time, you can cut and paste the recipe into a word doc and print that out.

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Jbeen December 15, 2009 at 8:52 am

PLEASE have a custom print button – I do not want to print out 25 pages of comments when I print the recipe – most modern web pgs have this convenience

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Brittani December 13, 2009 at 2:56 pm

I REALLLY like this recipe. I added chocolate chips and poppy seeds. It is in the oven but I will say that it smells soo good!

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Nicole December 2, 2009 at 9:31 pm

I found this recipe too sweet. In comparison to a banana bread recipe I favor, this is very close minus the honey. For those at all “troubled” by whole wheat flour (taste, texture or otherwise), consider trying the King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat flour. It has a much finer texture than many other off the shelf whole wheats. Makes great quick breads and pancakes, too!

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Menaka D November 17, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Just tried this recipe.
I love love love it! Soft, tasty and moist. However, the middle part didn’t cook all the way due to a crack. So I had to cover the whole pan with foil and slit the middle part to expose the crack. Worked well actually.

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Breadtopia November 17, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Hi Denise. This is one addiction I think I’ll just keep feeding. Just so happens we’re minutes away from slicing into a fresh loaf of banana bread. The picture is appropriately blurry since that’s how the world will look to me shortly.

[img]withbananabread.JPG[/img]

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Denise November 17, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Ok, since you created this drug, do you also offer a detox facility? How about a 12 step program to get off this HIGHLY addictive substance? My God man, this can’t be healthy!!! No way, it’s WAY to GOOD!!!!!!!
I’m thinking about making petite fours out of the bread and icing them with a nice cream cheese icing for Thanksgiving. OOOOO maybe I’ll add a cup or two of oatmeal to the batter and make em’ into cookies!!! Oh what joy! You have inspired me and I thank you.

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Momma Mindy November 17, 2009 at 12:13 am

I am desperately trying to eliminate white flour and sugar from our diet. I found your recipe today and made it. My first child ate a muffin and exclaimed, “these are SO good!” (I didn’t tell them about the wheat/honey thing until they ate them.) Thank you!

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Kristi November 11, 2009 at 6:42 am

I tried this recipe and made 12 large cupcakes in a non-stick pan with no paper cups. My girlies absolutely loved them.
We baked them for 30 minutes on 350, and it was great timing!
Thanks

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Tammi October 7, 2009 at 8:19 am

Oh, and I added in craisins… yum!

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Tammi October 7, 2009 at 8:17 am

Wow! This is a great recipe! My entire family loves it, even my daughter who doesn’t like bananas! I read what others said about it being a little overdone so when I put the foil on, I lowered the temp to 300… came out perfect! I will be trying more recipes from your site! Thanks!

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Eleanor Hoh (Wokstar) September 27, 2009 at 10:33 pm

I’m clueless at baking (more science based), only good at wok cooking (creative and flexible.) I love this “recipe”, seemed easy enough. I found Holly B’s explanation very helpful re: goopy inside etc. and how to fix it. I’ve experienced that. I didn’t have loaf tin, only cake tin. Covering with foil made the top soft, so I took off and let it crust up for another 10 mins. Looks quite perfect for my first attempt. Very proud. O.K. just tasted first slice, it’s dense but nice and moist. I mixed too much as Holly said, now I know for next round. Thnx very much for giving me good baking experience.

[img]wokstartiny.jpg[/img]

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Jeanne September 18, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Delicious! I split the batter into 12 muffins and baked at 350 for 30 min and they came out perfect. Also subbed pecans for the walnuts. I’m at high altitude (Denver area) and didn’t make any modifications – in fact I weighed the white-whole-wheat flour to make sure I used 8 ounces by weight. Moist and nice texture, with none of the bitterness/dryness I usually encounter when trying to sub WW flour for AP. Thanks!

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GD Mama August 22, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I’m 31 weeks pregnant and recently diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. I found your recipe when looking for a wheat banana bread, so I decided to try it out this evening.

Here are my modifications:
- Baked at 325 degrees, since the Splenda suggests a lower temp or baking time and my oven tends to run a little hot.
- Used equal measurement of Splenda for brown sugar and agave nectar for honey.

I also used a second loaf pan under the filled one as someone had suggested, since my breads usually end up darker on the bottom.

Overall, the bread seems to be very good so far. I’ll be curious to see how it is later tomorrow after it has some time to mellow. Thanks for the recipe!

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Holly B. August 15, 2009 at 1:33 am

One thing I’ve been looking for is a “copycat” type recipe for Rosen’s Rye Bread. It’s that round loaf that has the crispy crust of French Bread and also a crumb every bit as luscious and tender – and, of course, with caraway seeds. I’ve come close, and made some truly good rye bread, but it’s still a far cry from Rosen’s.

Does anyone have such a recipe?

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Holly B. August 15, 2009 at 1:29 am

To Dave the Novice: If WW has a bad rap, I’m no part of it, m’dear. But only certain kinds of breads should be heavy and dense, by my tastes, and the rest should be light and airy with a soft, finely textured crumb. BTW, thanks for the interesting link. That bread shown looks a lot like good rye bread. You could probably substitute rye for the WW (but rye has virtually no gluten, so you’d have to add some for sure), add the caraway seeds, and off you go! It looks like a scrumptious rustic bread.

I don’t want people to think I’m dissing whole wheat! Not at all! It’s wonderful stuff. I’m trying to concoct a world-class bread that uses half whole wheat, and a whole big BUNCH of different seeds, grains, nuts, etc. It will NEED to be dense to hold all that good stuff! Many dense breads make fantastic toast. If anything gets a bad rap, it’s plain flours.

Whole wheat WILL rise, because it has some gluten in it. But it is always a denser loaf than one made with white flour, which has much more gluten, unless you add some gluten to it. I’m not enamored with refined flours, but they do have their points, and one of them is making many superb breads. I am not into dissing refined flour either.

But you can always add some gluten to a 100% whole wheat bread to get the result of half white and half WW. That’s what those “Better for Bread” flours have in them. But you could just as easily add your own gluten to your own white flour (cheaper) and also to a total WW dough, approximately 1 Tb per cup of WW flour. Experiment to find the optimal ratio for you. Keep in mind, too, that (aside from bananas or other added ingredients), all basic bread doughs get ALL of their protein content from gluten. That’s what gluten IS – a protein. I feel sorry for those who are intolerant of it. SO sad!

I have two problems of my own. One is an oven that I can’t adjust for precise temperatures – it’s old, and I’m poor, but hope one day to get around to getting a new thermostat for it. So sometimes, even with all the knowledge needed to make fantastic banana and other breads, I end up with something scorched on the bottom or that falls because part of the middle is somewhat uncooked. But that may not always be the cause.

The other problem I have is altitude. I’m in Mexico, at an altitude identical to Denver’s – one mile high. What I am NOT adept in at ALL is how to get my wonderful recipes for baked goods to turn out properly here. It seems every kind of bread or cake has its own “changes” that must be made to a specific recipe, not to any grouping of them. There don’t seem to be any standard principles to learn which we can then apply to the recipe we want; instead we have to use recipes that have proven out already at high altitude. That’s kind of extremely limiting, and it’s frustrating.

The hard part is figuring out how to adapt – which of these situations causes what problem? I’m still working on it.

I’ve often had some trouble getting a lovely browned crispy crust on breads like French. Sometimes they’ll bake up perfectly, but are still white! I’ve found that painting the dough, halfway through baking, with a mixture of 1 beaten egg and 1 tsp of salt solves that nicely.

This altitude is a glorious place for making bread doughs rise – I used to have problems with that back in Chicago. Here, they puff up like the marshmallow man. It’s the BAKING that gets sticky.

I’m still working on how to match the local bakeries with the “bolillo,” (bol-ee’-yo) Mexico’s answer to French Bread. And they are a noble answer indeed! Somewhat more substantial, but every bit as tender inside as French Bread, and a crust just as crispy and browned. For some reason, people think you can only make French Bread in those long rods. Not so. The bolillo is almost identical to French Bread, made into a shorter rod, but the dough is given a “twist,” to make it into two easily separated hard rolls, and each gets a good slash on top. Each rod is called a “tira.” YUM. I won’t say it’s better than French Bread, but it IS every bit as good. And hot from the oven….how do you spell “bliss”? I use them to make homemade pizza – saves the bother of making the dough, so I can enjoy my pizza more often! Sauce on oiled half roll, add toppings and gobs of cheese, and bake. You can do the same with any crusty hard roll. Bakes up much faster, too. Less drooling.

If you’re interested, it shouldn’t be hard to find bolillo recipes online. My problems are still the same for these, though.

One thing that galled me about baking breads is that almost ALL recipes yield two loaves. I don’t need even one full loaf. So I experimented.

I proofed a yeast envelope in water with a smidge of sugar and flour. When it foamed nicely, I added about 1/2 c of water and mixed it in. Then I mixed a small amount of flour with a tsp. of salt, wisked that in well, then continued adding flour till it made a decent dough. (I don’t ever add the salt to the yeast; I dilute it with flour, because salt retards rising.) The kneading went fast, too. It was about half a loaf’s worth, and I baked it in “mini-loaf” pyrex dishes, well buttered. I got about three of them. I smeared some soft butter on them after rising, then baked them, and they were lovely. And just enough. I once tried freezing white bread dough – it kept rising in the freezer and gooed it up. So now I chill it first, punching it down several times until it is thoroughly chilled. MUCH better.

Basic bread is nothing more than yeast and flour, with a bit of salt, and enough water to make a dough. You can add other stuff, too, if you like, like an egg, maybe some melted butter, substituting some milk for some of the water, etc. Egg gives a more substantial and “springy” crumb, milk and butter tenderize.

But the first bread ever made was just a liquid made from a little flour and some water, usually allowed to rise from organisms in the air, then adding enough flour to make a dough. Except for the addition of salt, and modern yeasts, basic breads, like French Bread, are still the same thing. Flour, water, yeast and salt.

Because I knew these things, I tried to make the classic Ethiopian bread called “Injera.” The “starter” I mixed for the air to seed and make the dough rise failed – abominably. It overflowed the jar, gooed up my countertop – and it stank! Only later did I learn it’s supposed to stink, and doesn’t stink at all in the final bread. But I lacked a vital ingredient, too, millet flour. You also need to bake it over a hot flame in a large circular, flat griddle with a lid. The pictures I’ve seen of it are like a sponge with large holes. Food is piled on top. You break off pieces of the Injera and use them to pick up the food. The sponge-like holes soak up a lot of gravy and other liquids. Sometimes the Injera in an Ethiopian restaurant covers the whole TABLE! But it looks so good…(sob). And, before anyone dines, the waiter comes around with soap, a towel, a jug of water, and a bowl, so they can wash their hands, because this is a meal eaten with the hands. I’m drooling to try it, but probably never will. Haven’t found millet flour here yet.

I hope some others who are novices may gain a bit from some of these experiences, especially the failures!

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Jessica D. August 14, 2009 at 2:34 pm

GREAT recipe!
Though I did make some changes.
Like many suggested/mentioned, I turned the heat down to 325. It took a while longer but prevented any burning or excessive browning (not sure how long it took…just kept checking every 10 min or so after the 40 min. mark).
Also I really wanted to make this recipe more healthy. So instead of butter I used apple sauce (about 3/4 of a cup). This worked great…but when you cut the fat out like that you just need to be careful to not over stir and sometimes cook for a slightly shorter period of time.
I also substituted Splenda for the sugar; something else that I have never done before but it turned out amazing.
The bread is great…a little on the moist side, which I love, and can probably be attributed to the apple sauce.

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rosy August 7, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Wow this really looks like a fantastic recipe, I can’t wait to try it or even have a bit of my own home made banana bread.

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Breadtopia August 7, 2009 at 3:48 am

Hi Janis,

Thanks for catching that. I’ve changed the wording to read “1 stick or 4 ounces”. It wasn’t clear but hopefully this is better.

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Janis July 28, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Oops! I read the recipe as 1 stick PLUS 4 oz of butter. I couldn’t figure out why you didn’t just say 2 sticks, but since I actually weighed it on my kitchen scale and my scale must be a little inaccurate, I had a couple tablespoons left to grease the pan. So I thought that’s why you had us weigh those 4 oz.

Oh well, I’ve already sent the bread to my son in San Francisco. I’m sure double the butter can only make it taste better, right?

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Val July 15, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Hi Eric;
Just stumbled across your site looking for a moist wholewheat recipe for banana bread and MY GOD did I luck out!! Tried this recipe and used raw cashew nuts instead of walnuts and talk about delicious! This recipe is a keeper! I have been baking bread for a number of years now but have chickened out about making sourdough bread, but now thanks to this site I’m FINALLY going to try & make my own starter and try your Spelt Sourdough Recipe. Keep up the good work & I look forward to seeing some more delicious recipes from you!

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Shara Chawkin July 1, 2009 at 10:19 am

Wow so random, I went into Google to look for a good whole wheat recipe and look who pops up, Eric!!!!! What a crazy small world! I am about to try your recipe, I’m sure it will be delicious!
Say hi to Denise for me! Love to you both
xoxo Shara

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Breadtopia June 25, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Hi Veronica,

Seems to me this recipe would make great muffins. Your guess is at least as good as mine on the time adjustment. I would probably give ‘em the toothpick test at 5 minute intervals after 30 mins or so.

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veronica June 25, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Can I make muffins using this recipe? If so, what would you suggest the time difference would be?

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Janice June 20, 2009 at 1:27 pm

I love whole wheat quick breads but I always find them to turn out dry. I made this and my whole family enjoyed it. It was nice and moist. The only thing that I didn’t different was to replace 1/2 of the butter with applesauce and use half honey and half molasses. It was so very good. Thank you for this recipe!

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Georgia May 25, 2009 at 1:53 am

Dear Eric,

I have been looking for this recipe since last Christhmas that i visited Australia and used to have one piece of banana bread toasted with butter every morning. I tried to make banana bread with several recipes, but none of them was like the one i used to eat in Australia.

I followed your recipe instructions and made the banana bread yesterday… it was even better than expected! Thank you so so much for the recipe, and the video!!!!

Georgia from Cyprus

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Cheryl May 22, 2009 at 2:00 pm

I followed the directions to a T and although the banana bread tastes good it is definitely not moist. I used 4 super ripe (black) bananas and did not over-mix when adding the flour.. I’m thinking that next time I won’t bake it so long. Maybe 4 or 5 min. with the foil and less than 50 min. in the initial baking.

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Cheryl May 22, 2009 at 1:58 pm

I followed the directions to a ‘t’ and although the banana bread tastes good it is definitely not moist. I used 4 super ripe (black) bananas and did not over-mix when adding the flour.. I’m thinking that next time I won’t bake it so long. Maybe 4 or 5 min. with the foil and less than 50 min. in the initial baking.

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Bonnie May 14, 2009 at 9:32 pm

I live at 7000 feet, and added ten minutes to the bake time to compensate, which worked out perfectly. This bread is very good, although the banana flavor is not as prominent as I would have liked. I will probably add one more banana next time to achieve a stronger banana flavor.

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Gloria Hanna April 30, 2009 at 7:39 am

Very pleased with this recipe for banana nut bread. I stayed with the recipe formula with the exception of using 1 cup each of whole wheat flour and all purpose flour.

I baked as recommended, however, I required 60 minutes at 350 degrees with the foil lightly on and 10 minutes w/o the foil. I did reduce tempurature to 325 degrees on the last 10 minutes.

I am truly not a bread maker, but my husband and I enjoyed it!

Sincerely,

Gloria

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Frumhacks (Adam Simon) April 16, 2009 at 8:49 am

I really enjoyed this recipe, I even blogged about it here: Bring Chametz Back With A Bang with Breadtopia.com!

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Breadtopia March 20, 2009 at 5:49 am

Guten Tag, Jermain.

I can assure you that your English is better than my German.
Thanks for writing. Maybe next time we visit Germany we can watch one of your football games. I hope your career is going well.

I am getting close to adding a spelt (dinkle) recipe and video to the site. Isn’t this a common bread in Germany? I’d love to get your feedback.

All the best,

Eric

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