At its best, a loaf of banana bread comes out of the oven redolent of fruit and spice, with a lightly browned, slightly domed top. A well-baked loaf should be moist but hold together well after cooling and slicing. If you neglect to follow your recipe’s instructions, however, you may end up with a soggy, sunken loaf that is raw in the center. Avoid this problem by paying attention to certain details as you measure ingredients and mix and bake your batter.
Measure all of the ingredients carefully, particularly the mashed bananas. Adding too much mashed banana in proportion to the dry ingredients will result in the center of the loaf staying raw while the outside becomes overly brown.
Avoid overmixing the batter. Most quick bread recipes specify that you mix the dry and wet ingredients separately, then combine them with a spoon, mixing only until all ingredients are incorporated. Too much mixing can contribute to improper baking.
Use the same pan size as specified in your recipe. If you wish to create loaves of a different size than that suggested in your recipe, adjust your baking time accordingly.
Lower the oven temperature if your bread appears to be browning too quickly. If the oven temperature is too hot, your bread may look done on the outside while the center remains uncooked. Alternatively, cover the loaf with a tent of aluminum foil to prevent the top from browning too much.
Begin testing your banana bread for doneness about 10 minutes before you expect it to be finished baking. Insert a cake tester or toothpick near the center of the loaf; if the tester comes out clean, the center of the loaf is done.
Test the bread before removing it from the oven by examining the cracks as you press down gently on the top of the loaf. The cracks should be free of any beads of moisture, and the top of the loaf should feel firm. If you detect moisture beads or the top is still soft, continue baking for five or 10 more minutes and test again.
Test your oven’s temperature with an oven thermometer to be sure it is calibrated correctly.
When using a cake tester to check for doneness, check in more than one place. If you stick the tester into a chunk of banana rather than the batter, you could get a false reading.