We all know this story. You’ve got a bowl of fresh fruit. There are bananas in the bowl; some nice and yellow and some brown and mushy. Somebody grabs a banana from the bowl, but it’s always a yellow one. Leaving you with a bunch of overripe, brown, and mushy bananas. Well, that’s perfect, because this recipe for sourdough banana bread needs just those bananas.
When I was starting out with sourdough, I had a lot of sourdough discard, and I didn’t know what to do with it, so I scoured the web for recipes using discarded sourdough starter and one I found was this recipe from The Perfect Loaf. I must say that it is the best banana bread I’ve ever tried, so I had to share it.
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The history of banana bread
The first written recipes for banana bread started popping up in the 1930s in American cookbooks. Those were pretty dense bread with wheat bran as a filler, which was added because it was cheap and made it a more economical bread during the meager post-depression years.
A big part of the 1940s was during World War II and rationing was real. The banana bread of that decade was lean because people would use fewer eggs and sour milk or buttermilk. It was just a lot cheaper. It was meant to fill your stomach.
In the 1950s people started to have more disposable income. People were better educated and got a lot of children. Many moms were still stay-at-home moms even though it was more common to see women in the workplace. This was the time of ‘convenience’. The recipes were simpler or people would just buy a cake mix instead of making the cakes themselves.
Later on, in the 1960s and 1970s, the hippie movement wanted to change the world from ‘suit-and-tie’ to more of an ‘encompass-all’ type world. That also meant that people started eating things that were ‘out of the box’ compared to earlier. The recipes for banana bread from this era would contain exotic (at the time) ingredients like vanilla, almond, orange, nutmeg, and coffee.
In the 1990s people started to get fancy and use expensive ingredients. The banana bread of this era were rich both in fats, nuts and flavor.
At the turn of the millennium, people started getting more health-conscious and the banana bread recipes from these years turned down the butter, the nuts, and especially the sugar.
Now as we are closing in on the 2020s this sourdough banana bread recipe seems to be a culinary statement of our time. People are trying to make things from scratch and eat less factory-made foods.
The history in this section is inspired by this article at King Arthur flour.
This sourdough banana bread recipe
Most common banana bread recipes are leavened using chemical leavening like baking powder or baking soda. Which is fine, it can make some delicious baked goods.
In this recipe, there’s only a little bit of baking soda and the starter is working as the acid to help it react. There’s less baking soda than usual because the starter is also helping the bread rise.
If you don’t have a sourdough starter, you can read and follow my guide on how to make your own. It’s not hard.
In the last couple of years, people who bake have become obsessed with natural leavening also known as a sourdough starter.
People mostly do bread using their starters, but I will start sharing recipes for other things that can also be made using sourdough starter. This recipe is the first one, more will follow.
Banana bread is kind of a hybrid. Half bread/half cake. It’s sweet bread.
The taste of this bread is not sour at all. If you did a side-by-side taste test, you wouldn’t be able to pick out the one with the starter. The reason is that a freshly fed starter isn’t sour, and there’s basically no fermentation time, so no sour notes are able to develop.
It’s as easy as any banana bread, but this one is just the best one I’ve ever tried. Give it a go.
Please share on social media
This is a wonderful recipe for sourdough banana bread. I hope you will try to make it. If you make this recipe and post it to Instagram, please tag me as @foodgeek.dk so I can see it. That will make me very happy.
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Banana Bread with Sourdough Starter
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gask Mark 4 (no fan assist).
- Combine flour(s), baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Give everything a good mix with your hand.
- Chop the walnuts add a small handful to a small bowl, and add a few sugar- pinches. Add the rest of the chopped nuts to another bowl.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream 125g butter and 100g brown sugar.
- Once the mixture is nice a fluffy, add the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down as needed.
- While the mixture is beating, peel the three bananas and mash them up in a bowl.
- Once everything is thoroughly combined, add sourdough starter, honey, mashed bananas, olive oil, and vanilla, and mix on medium-high speed.
- Slow down the mixer and add flour little by little. Once combined, stop the mixer.
- Add reserved chopped walnuts (without sugar) and lemon zest (if using) and fold in using a spatula.
- Pour the batter into a well-buttered 12cm x 22cm pan (9" x 5") and smooth the top. Sprinkle with walnut and sugar mixture.
- Bake for 55 to 65 minutes. Err on under-cooking as you want this bread to be moist. Stick in a toothpick; it should come out without batter. It took about 60 minutes in my oven.
- Once done, put on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes are up, remove from the pan and let cool completely before slicing into it.