There is an art to telling when your baked goods are perfectly done! Overbaking can lead to dryness. Underbaking can make baked goods simply inedible and leave you with a sunken mess of batter. Use these tips, tricks, and visual cues specifically for checking when banana bread is done!
Banana bread is a quickbread and is typically baked in a loaf pan with a long bake time of anywhere from 45-70 minutes. After waiting that long, don’t get impatient- be sure to check it’s fully baked!
Factors That Affect Banana Bread Bake Time
So your recipe says to bake for 45-55 minutes, but your loaf isn’t done at 55 minutes. What to do?! Many things are at play in baking up banana bread, here are some additional things to consider.
We’ve found in all our banana bread recipe testing that a loaf of banana bread can take anywhere from 45-70 minutes to bake!
#1 The amount of bananas you use plays a part here! More mashed banana = a wetter dough and more moisture to cook out. Most banana bread recipes list a range of bananas to use (ie 3-4 medium) or list a volume measurement (ie 2 cups mashed banana).
Banana bread is one of those bakes that isn’t exact- most people don’t measure the amount of mashed bananas (I know I don’t) and bakers may be using bananas at varying levels of ripeness.
Also, 3 extra large bananas yield more mashed bananas than 3 small bananas.
This is a big part of why banana bread can take a huge range to bake up!
#2 Any additions to the batter can change the bake time. For example in recipe testing peanut butter banana bread, we realized this loaf was fully baked in less time than in the same banana bread without peanut butter. The same for oatmeal banana bread.
#4 The size of the loaf pan you bake in. There are two very common loaf pan sizes: 8×4 and 9×5. The 9×5 pans create shorter, wider loaves that cook up a bit quicker. An 8×4 pan takes longer as it’s a taller loaf! (which we prefer)
#5 The material of the pan! A light-colored metal pan is ideal for all your baking projects as light-colored metal evenly distributes heat and cooks things most evenly.
For dark metal or glass pans, the heat transfer is more intense- meaning the edges will cook up faster than the center. If using a metal or glass pan you may need to kick down the temp by 25* or tent the loaf with aluminum foil for the last 10-20 minutes if you notice the edges becoming too dark or dry but the center is still wet.
#1 Look at the edges of the loaf, they should have pulled inward from the pan a bit and feel firm/set.
#2 If your recipe calls for baking soda (it should!) the entire exterior of the loaf should be a deep golden brown, not just the edges.
If your recipe didn’t call for baking soda and relies only on baking powder for lift, the edges should be brown but most of the top of the loaf may still be pale.
#3 If you gently press a finger into the loaf near the center it should feel firm. The loaf should bounce right back and not leave an imprint.
The Toothpick Test
The toothpick test is best used when the visual cues are lining up that your loaf is fully baked- firm edges and a nice golden brown top. The toothpick test is a nice peace-of-mind addition to these cues.
To test a banana bread loaf using a toothpick, open the oven and pull out the loaf. Take a toothpick and stick it into the center area of the loaf and insert it 2-3″ deep, then remove it.
- If you see any wet batter, your banana bread is not finished baking. Check again in 3-5 minutes.
- If you only see a few moist crumbs attached to it, it’s at the early end of done. This will be a very moist loaf that may have a mushier or gummier consistency until it fully cools.
- If the toothpick is completely clean, the loaf is fully baked and will be nice and firm. It won’t be ultra moist, but will be firm and delicious!
Banana bread usually develops a big crack down the center- check the loaf in several places with a toothpick including inside and outside of the crack.
The Temperature Test
Banana bread is a quickbread and most quickbreads are fully baked between 200-210*. Since most recipes for banana bread call for a “general amount” of bananas (ie 3-4 medium bananas), the batter can have varying levels of moisture. A temperature test works best when a recipe is exact, as in most baking =]
Due to the above fact, we’ve found we enjoy the texture of banana bread closer to 208*. We have baked banana bread to both 200 and 205* and found the center was still a bit undercooked, folks.
The temperature test is not the ideal method for checking if banana bread is done.
Banana bread always gets a crack down the center as air escapes, unless you have marbled the dough or used a trick to alter the crack in some way.
The area around this crack is usually the last to cook up as the crack runs through the center of the pan. Upon visual inspection, the area just around the crack is very misleading. It can look a little shiny(wet and doughy) at the top but be fully baked.
This is due to moisture escaping the loaf as it bakes- steam rises up through this crack which can make it appear shiny and wet even if the loaf is done.
You can use the toothpick test both inside the crack and just outside of it to be certain!
How To Use Underbaked Banana Bread
It’s the most discouraging thing to realize your beautiful loaf has sunken in upon cooling and the interior is underbaked and doughy. The ends of the loaf will likely be baked up and you can eat a few slices off of each end.
For the center portion, the very wet and doughy section, you have a few options. We like to make sweet ‘croutons’ with baked goods that don’t turn out well. Break this section into 2-3″ cubes and bake for just a couple minutes until firm-not dry and crunchy like typical croutons. Snack on these as-is or serve with ice cream =] Or add it as a topping for oatmeal or yogurt bowls!
You can also slice (as best as you can) this underbaked section and bake the slices for a couple more minutes. Use these slices to make french toast, or slather them with butter, peanut butter, or coconut butter.
If you try and add the halves bake to a loaf pan and finish baking, they just don’t bake up correctly. The exterior overcooks by the time the interior is done– this is due to the loaf sinking. To finish baking, your best bet is to cut into smaller pieces, cubes, or slices, then bake for a bit longer.