In true spirit of scientific exploration, I repeated this "experiment" twice. Slightly different sets of recipes but very different outcomes.
I am sure many home-cooks face this conundrum at some point in their "cooking exploration" and this is - "I followed the recipe and the instructions to the T but what I made, at best, did not match what I was looking for, or, at worst, was a complete disaster."
What went wrong?
Things that I learned from my experiment of making a banana bread, which applies to most cooking by the way -- first, the sequence of adding each ingredient is crucial, and second, not all recipes are created equal. Just because the recipe from this book or that website says so, it does not mean it is correct. I am not saying that these instructions are wrong but what I am saying is that very often it takes a few explorations to find the right recipe.
I wanted a FLUFFY banana bread but the first recipe that I tried did not give a FLUFFY banana bread. It came out more like a fresh bagel. Where did the FLUFFINESS go?
If you have been following this blog, you will know by now that I am a big fan of David Lebovitz. He was a pastry chef for many years and I have used his recipe or the recipes he uses and was able to replicate success routinely.
I used his Banana Bread recipe and gave some minor tweaks.
surface of Mars
A) Wet ingredients
2 tbsp melted butter (which is cooled to room temperature prior to using. You want to do this first before you start assembling the rest)
2 large eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup of greek yogurt (Lebovitz asked for sour cream. I don't eat sour cream and I don't like to buy sour cream just to use half of it and have the other half sitting in the refrigerator)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
B) Dry ingredients
1.5 cups of flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda (the baking powder and the baking soda are essential for FLUFFY bread)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
a canyon found on Mars
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Butter the 4-sides of a square baking pan and line the bottom with a "cut out" parchment paper.
3. Sift together the dry ingredients (minus the sugar) a few times. Mix in the sugar after the last sift.
4. In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients
5. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in the wet ingredients.
(note: The mixture is chunky in the beginning but it will smooth out slowly. David Lebovitz stresses the importance of "stir until just combined, but don't overstir: stop when any traces of flour disappear.)
6. Transfer the mixture into the pan and bake the cake.
(note: Don't wait for 40 minutes, as Davd Lebovitz suggested. Check the cake around 20 minutes and use the empirical test that David Lebovitz suggests which is "until the center feels lightly-springy and just done. For me, it took just under 30 minutes).
7. Let it cool then serve.
There are so many variations of this cake such as adding nuts, chocolate chips, berries, citrus, etc. I am already thinking about my next banana bread.