Banana Bread

Joined Feb 8, 2001
Hi everyone! Peace and prayers to all.
In a few weeks I'm going to be teaching some cooking classes to 8th graders, start-
ing with an intro on using cookin utensils. We'll be making banana bread and I need to know what I'm talking about. I know not to overmix the quickbread...but why? Any pointers to help me sound like I know what the heck I'm doing,would be appreciated.
Joined May 11, 2001
I'm no expert but I think the reason why you don't want to overmix the banana bread is because you don't want to develop the gluten in the flour. This happens once you mix the liquid and dry ingredients together. So you can mix the liquid ingredients all you want, and same for the dry ingredients but once they're together, be gentle.
Joined Jan 15, 2001
Risa is right. Overmixing would overdevelop gluten and your bread would come out tough(less tender)and with elongated air pockets called tunneling.
Joined Apr 24, 2001
And the reason why quickbreads are so easy to get tough is because of the high amount of liquid ingredients. My cooking utensil of choice is the whisk because of it's efficiency in mixing. Each loop provides two tines for mixing. So in just a few strokes, the dry and wet ingredients come together. I stop stirring once I don't see any streaks of flour.

Check out nullthis website for food science answers. Click on the articles for information on gluten development.

I taught high school students how to bake a little while back. I'd say the most important thing that I needed them to understand was how to read a recipe (its format and technical instructions). Have fun with your students.
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Just in case: don't forget to break down your bananas seperately before you add them to your liquids. Use grossly over ripe bananas, for flavor. If you wanted to do a small experiment taste it and notice it's texture when fresh, then freeze some and compare it's taste and texture after being forzen.

I can't tell you the exact science, but the moisture from freezing and defrosting moistens the bread further and the flavor becomes more pronounced.
Joined Jan 12, 2001
exactly. don't overmix quick breads in order to avoid overly developing the gluten. this is the same reason why you knead risen doughs...the developing glutens make bread doughs pleasantly stretchy and elastic. for pizza, it's desireable, for banana bread it's not.

i've found that freezing the bananas makes them ultimately moister as well. we used to keep the rotting bananas in the freezer until we had a bunch and then make a big batch of banana bread and i always thought it made for a better, moister, end product.

i think this is due to hydrolisis. the process in which sugars pull moisture out of the air around them. this is the same reason why putting a slice of white bread in with your chocolate chip cookies keeps them nice and soft. the sugar in the bananas soaks up all the moisture produced by the freezing/thawing process.

a tip: my mom always used about a half-cup of sour cream in every loaf of banana bread and it came out great. a little extra flavor and richness and also i think it helps to leaven and results in a lighter (yet richer) bread.

have fun. sounds like a neat way for kids to learn about some of the science of cooking.
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