Is it a bread? Or is it a cake? I’m not quite sure. It’s a loaf certainly, but the texture is so light, like a chiffon cake. This recipe contains very little leavening (just a half-teaspoon baking soda), and relies on whipping eggs with sugar to create structure for the banana bread. The method is very similar to the grated apple cake I made last month, which didn’t use any leavening at all and relied on whipped eggs for structure, lightness, and flavor. This recipe is adapted from Chef Joanne Chang’s book Baking with Less Sugar.
Better than Flour Banana Bread
Yield: one 9-inch loaf, 4 6×3-inch loaves, or one 8×8 inch square cake pan
75g/walnuts or sliced almonds, optional
175g/1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon fine salt
3 large eggs
75g/6 tablespoons sugar
70g/1/3 cup rice bran oil or vegetable oil
3 large or 4 medium very ripe, black, spotty, and soft bananas*
90g/6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (crème fraîche in original recipe; can use plain yogurt)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
*or 4 large frozen bananas, defrosted, and drained of excess water.
Heat oven to 325˚F/165˚C. Adjust rack to the middle of the oven. Butter and flour one 9×5 inch loaf pan or 4 6×3-inch mini loaf pans.
If using, put the nuts on a baking sheet and toast 8-10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool. Chop the nuts coarsely, by pulsing them 2-3 times in a food processor.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until pale, light, fluffy, and thickened. When the whisk is raised, the batter will fall back into the bowl in thick ribbons.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil. Don’t pour the oil at once, add it slowly so it has time to incorporate and doesn’t deflate the eggs.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, mash all but one of the bananas thoroughly with a fork. Microwave bananas on high power for 60 seconds or until they are hot. Cool slightly. Add the remaining banana and mash it in.
Using a whisk, whip the whipping cream and vanilla in a small bowl until thickened to the consistency of a thick puree. Add the thickened cream mixture to the cooled bananas.
On low speed, add the banana mixture to the egg mixture until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Gradually fold in the flour mixture and nuts, if using, by hand, gently folding so as not to deflate the eggs. Scrape along the bottom to make sure the flour is combined and there are no flour streaks in the batter.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s). Fill the pan(s) just under the rim(s). No worries, the batter will not rise and overflow during baking. Using an offset spatula, smooth the top(s). Shift the pan(s) lightly back and forth on the countertop to dislodge any air bubbles. Run a skewer in a zigzag motion through the center of the batter to smooth it, being careful not to scrape the bottom of the pan(s).
Bake the 9×5-inch loaf 50-60 minutes or until the top of the banana bread is pale golden brown, and springs back when pressed lightly in the center. If your finger leaves an impression, bake for 5 more minutes then test again. Bake the mini-loaves 35-40 minutes on a baking tray. The top of the bread will be flat and will not have the dome characteristic of banana breads made with leavening agents.
Remove the pan(s) to a cooling rack. Using a thin blade, release the sides of the loaf from the pan(s). Turn the pan(s) upside down on the rack. Cool in the pan(s) on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and slice. Serve at room temperature.
Storing banana bread: bread can be stored, tightly wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for up to 2 days. Or stored in the freezer tightly wrapped in plastic then wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to 2 weeks. Thaw overnight at room temperature.