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
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.