I decided to do a little research. The key was in the baking soda and baking powder, but not in the way I originally thought. Now it's time for a little science. Baking soda reacts with acidic ingredients (buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, etc.) to produce bubbles, which then causes the baked goods to rise. Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and a solid acid (cream of tartar). It turns out that molasses is more acidic than sugar. I was using baking powder, which already has an acid, and it was causing the loaf to rise too much and too fast. So basically, I had too much leavener. My solution was to use only baking soda and reduce the temperature so ensure a slower, more gradual rise. Reducing the temperature also helped because the molasses causes baked goods to brown faster.
I made those changes and it worked! The loaf rose in the middle (only slightly, but I'll take it) and had a great flavor. I love this bread and it's layers of flavor. When you first taste it, you are hit with the banana bread flavor which slowly turns into gingerbread. I knew a glaze would be the perfect finishing touch. I decided on a vanilla glaze, much like the frosting you would find on a gingerbread man cookie. It's my husband's favorite part of the bread. I'll admit, I love it too and save it for last when I'm eating a slice! This is a very cozy and satisfying banana bread, perfect for wintertime.
Here's a quick tip: To make mashing bananas a breeze, I use a pastry blender. Mash them right in the mixing bowl you will be using to make the bread to lessen the amount of dirty dishes!
Banana Gingerbread with Vanilla Glaze
(This is not a low-FODMAP recipe)
makes 1 loaf
2 large ripe bananas
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
- Preheat oven to 325º F. Prepare a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
- Mash bananas in a large bowl with a fork. Add brown sugar, molasses, vegetable oil, eggs and milk and stir until combined.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, baking soda and salt.
- Add flour mixture to banana mixture and stir just until flour is incorporated. Pour in prepared pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick.
- Cool completely, and then turn out of pan.
- To make the glaze, combine the melted butter, corn syrup and 1 Tbsp. milk. Add the confectioners’ sugar and stir. Add the vanilla and additional 1 Tbsp. milk or enough to achieve a drizzling consistency. Pour over cooled loaf.