There is nothing more frustrating than taking out your freshly baked banana bread, cutting into the center, and finding a soft, gooey mess.
You might be able to keep the two ends of your loaf, but you will have to throw the center away because it will not bake evenly now that it has been cut open.
It is important to learn how to tell when your banana bread is done baking so that the inside is perfect, the sides melt in your mouth, and the top has a golden crust.
Fortunately, there are a few different tips that will help to ensure that your banana bread comes out perfectly every time.
Make Sure That Your Oven Temperature Is Accurate
Sometimes ovens say that the temperature is one thing when in fact it isn’t true. This is tricky because recipes call for certain temperatures and everything else is based on baking at that temperature.
For example, if your recipe calls for baking 25 minutes at 350 degrees, your bread will not be ready if the temperature is only 320.
The best solution is to make sure that you have an oven thermometer that you can set on your oven’s center rack. In fact, if you have a second thermometer, you can compare the two to make sure you are getting an accurate reading.
This is critical to how your banana bread will turn out, and if you are certain of the baking temperature in the oven, you can follow the time recommendations for your recipe.
Make Sure That You Give Your Oven Enough Preheating Time
Another mistake that can lead to banana bread not being thoroughly baked occurs when people put it in the oven before it is thoroughly preheated.
Your oven may tell you that it is ready earlier than it is, which can cause problems for you in terms of timing.
You can actually learn how long it takes your oven to preheat so that you will always know how much time you need to wait before you begin baking.
Take the oven thermometer (two if you have them), and run a test. Set a timer and see how long it actually takes for your oven to reach the desired temperature.
Start with 350, as this is a pretty standard temperature, or you can test it for any temperature you normally use. This way, you will have an idea of how long you need to wait for your oven to preheat when you bake banana bread.
You need to make sure that your oven is completely preheated before you start baking your bread because the instructions in the recipe are based on your banana bread baking for a specific amount of time at a specific temperature.
Use a Knife to Determine When Your Banana Bread Is Finished
Because banana bread has texture inside from the sliced bananas, you cannot use the “toothpick test” to determine if it has finished baking.
You can use a thin-blade knife. Gently push it into the center of the banana bread, and then take it out. Take care to go straight in and straight out without letting it move from side to side.
You should repeat this test two or three times to make sure that the knife doesn’t come out with soft batter on it.
If you can successfully do this in three spots near the center of the bread, your banana bread has likely finished baking.
Use a Food Thermometer to See If it Has Finished Baking
One of the most reliable ways to be sure that your banana bread has finished baking is to use a food thermometer.
In fact, using a digital thermometer is the most reliable because you can press it into the loaf (near the center), and slowly draw it out, checking the temperature as you do.
You should see the temperature decrease as you move toward the center of the loaf. It will increase as you withdraw it.
When your banana bread is done baking, the center should measure 200 to 205 degrees. You should not find any portion of the banana bread that measures less than 200 degrees, and if you do, you need to wait a little bit longer.
Always Use the Same Baking Pans
Have you ever noticed that brownie directions tell you to bake for different times depending on the material and shape of your pans?
Science is behind this, in that different materials have different heat conductivity, and different shapes will heat the batter at different rates.
When you begin baking banana bread, choose a pan that you plan to use again each time you make it.
Once you perfect the art of baking banana bread in this pan, it will be much easier to replicate. The conductivity of the pan and the length of time it takes will always remain the same if the temperature is consistent.
Be Mindful If You Change Your Recipe
Another important observation is that changing your ingredients even a small amount can affect the amount of time it takes to bake your banana bread.
Something as simple as substituting honey for brown sugar or adding chocolate chips can have an impact on the necessary baking time.
If you decide to alter your recipe at all, be sure to consider how this might impact your baking time. You will need to use the thermometer again so that you can take it out when it is perfectly baked.
Keep a Baking Journal
The best way to keep track of all of this information is with a baking journal.
You can keep notes on how long it took the oven to preheat, how long it took to bake the banana bread all the way through, what pan you used, and your ingredients.
This will make it much easier to determine the baking time in the future, and you will be aware of it if you change anything.
Be Sure to Allow Your banana Bread to Cool
When you take the banana bread out of the oven, you need to make sure that it has time to cool before you eat it. In addition, you need to remove it from the pan quickly so that it doesn’t become soggy.
When it finishes baking, let it cool on a cooling rack. This allows the structure of the bread to firm up and your slices will be neater.
You can always heat the banana bread up again after it has cooled if you want to eat it warm. It is important for the bread to finish forming before you eat it.
When you bake banana bread, it is important to know when it is finished. Unfortunately, if you cut open underbaked banana bread, you won’t be able to save the center.
There are several ways to make sure that your banana bread is baked all the way through. You should ensure that your oven is the correct temperature. You should also make sure the oven is preheated correctly before you start baking.
In addition, check the internal temperature of your banana bread with a thermometer, or use a thin-blade knife to make sure it is baked all the way through.
Finally, make sure that you give the loaf enough time to cool so that the bread finishes taking its form.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.