Sourdough banana bread is one of my go-to comfort foods.
It is also a great way to use up too-ripe bananas. It is sweet, and moist with a chewy caramelized crust. This recipe for sourdough discard banana bread is an easy way to use up your discard when you feed your sourdough starter.
The sourdough discard adds some extra flavor but the sweet bananas and brown sugar keep the banana bread from tasting too sour. Sourdough discard mostly helps with the rise and texture.
Sourdough banana bread makes a great breakfast topped with creamy butter and served with a cup of coffee or have a slice for an afternoon snack.
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Nothing smells better than a freshly baked loaf of sourdough discard banana bread. This loaf stays moist for days and makes a thoughtful and delicious gift. I am always giving out loaves of quick bread around the holidays.
What’s great about this sourdough banana bread is it won’t take hours to make and doesn’t need any additional yeast. This is not a traditional “sourdough” bread. It is simply a quick bread that just happens to include a cup of sourdough discard.
While sourdough banana bread is incredibly easy to make, this will be a long post, as I attempt to troubleshoot and preemptively answer any questions you might have. In this post, you’ll find answers to the most common questions people have about making banana bread.
What is sourdough?
Sourdough is a leavening method typically used for sourdough bread. Sourdough relies on the naturally occurring yeast and bacteria in flour to leaven baked goods.
If you have questions about maintaining your sourdough starter, watch this super helpful video from Baker Bettie.
If you’re feeling nervous about starting your sourdough journey and wish you had someone to walk you through the process step by step, I urge you to try these courses from Heather at Leavenly.com.
Don’t work your life around sourdough… Make sourdough work for you!
Through my new love for sourdough bread baking, I developed the flexible and customizable Leavenly Process to help other busy moms avoid the common pitfalls and challenges plaguing home bakers. The Leavenly Process allowed me to adapt any sourdough recipe to fit my climate, my ingredients, my life. I was no longer intimidated by sourdough. I said goodbye to unrealistic Instagram expectations. I was free of frustration! – Heather from Leavenly.com
This course includes:
- 10 Days of written step-by-step easy to follow instructions
- Troubleshooting tips
- Bonus video links, additional free resources, & community support
- 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee
- And more…
This course includes:
- A how-to video guide from start to finish
- Scheduling tips and guidelines
- Starter issues, like feedings and smell
- Common challenges and troubleshooting for both your starter and your bread
- Scoring methods and designs
- Shaping techniques for boules and batards
- Benefits of cold-proofing your dough
- Thorough explanation of hydration, and why it matters
- Adding different ingredients to your dough
As you get to know your starter you can adjust your process to suit your routine. Because I wanted to reduce the amount of discard I generate I have actually converted my starter to a micro starter which you can read more about at Cooks Illustrated.
If you’re growing tired of feeding your starter you can dry your starter and store it in the pantry. Check out How to Dry (and Revive) Your Sourdough Starter for Long-Term Storage for step-by-step instructions on both drying and reviving your starter.
What is sourdough discard?
Sourdough discard is the part of your sourdough starter that you usually throw away when you feed it. I feel guilty about throwing away food and am always looking for ways to reduce food waste.
Sourdough discard adds tons of incredible flavor to baked goods. The lactic acid bacteria found in sourdough discard adds flavor and tenderizes wheat proteins.
This recipe can use sourdough discard from any step in the sourdough starter process. It can be bubbly and freshly fed, dormant from sitting in your refrigerator, or anywhere in between. It also doesn’t matter what type of flour your starter has been fed with. All-purpose, whole wheat, or any variety of flour will work.
Sourdough Tip: Keep a glass jar in your refrigerator to store your sourdough discard. Continue adding to it until you have enough to make one of these sourdough discard recipes.
What if you don’t have any sourdough?
While this recipe was created to use up excess sourdough discard, you can easily substitute the same amount of sour cream, yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, or even canned pumpkin puree if you don’t have any discard.
How ripe should bananas be?
As a banana ripens, the starch in the fruit turns to sugar. The riper the banana the sweeter the banana is.
Banana bread tastes best when made with really ripe bananas. Ripe bananas should have started to form brown spots on the skin and begun to soften.
Letting your bananas ripen even longer, until the skins are mostly brown and the fruit falls apart when you peel it, will give your bread an even stronger banana flavor.
How to ripen bananas quickly
If you really want to make banana bread but don’t have any ripe bananas you can ripen bananas quickly using one of these two methods.
How to ripen bananas in the oven
The fastest way to ripen bananas is to bake them in the oven. Place under-ripe bananas on a baking sheet and bake at 250˚F for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the initial ripeness of the bananas.
How to ripen bananas on the counter
Place under-ripe bananas in a paper bag, seal, and leave at room temperature for a couple of days. Trapping the ethylene gas emitted by the bananas in a paper bag will cause the bananas to ripen more quickly.
Can bananas be too ripe for sourdough banana bread?
In my opinion no. The riper the banana the sweeter and more intense the banana flavor is. Of course, you should toss or compost any bananas that are moldy or have a strange odor.
Can you use frozen bananas?
Yep! I always have a zip-top bag full of frozen bananas stashed in my freezer. Allow the bananas to thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes before mashing them.
What is the best way to freeze bananas for this sourdough banana bread recipe?
If you have ripe bananas but aren’t ready to use them you can freeze them for later. My family is pretty picky when it comes to bananas. If they are completely yellow with no green they are too ripe for us. Because of this, I am always tossing bananas in the freezer to use for smoothies or banana bread.
To freeze bananas:
- Peel and break the bananas into large chunks.
- Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for one hour.
- Transfer the bananas to a freezer zip-top bag and label it with the date and contents.
For more information about freezing bananas check out this video from The Recipe Rebel.
All-purpose flour: For a nuttier flavor swap up to half of the AP flour for whole wheat flour.
Spices: Often I will use just cinnamon and nutmeg but warm fragrant spices like cardamon, ginger, cloves, or allspice could work well too.
Baking soda: Quick breads use chemical leaveners such as baking soda or baking powder to rise.
Salt: Salt helps to boost the flavors in baked goods.
Ripe bananas: You can use frozen bananas instead of fresh ones. Thaw them at room temperature and drain off any excess liquid before using them in the recipe.
Brown sugar: Brown sugar contains more moisture and adds a deep caramel flavor. Feel free to substitute the same amount of regular white granulated sugar for the brown sugar although the bread may not be as moist. You can also reduce the amount of sugar if you prefer your banana bread less sweet.
Neutral oil: (canola, vegetable, etc.) Swap the oil for the same amount of softened unsalted butter.
Large eggs: Room temperature eggs are easier to incorporate. Be sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding the next egg.
Sourdough discard (fed or unfed): If you don’t have any sourdough discard, you can substitute sour cream, yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, or even canned pumpkin puree.
Vanilla extract: Make sure to use pure vanilla extract not imitation. The flavor will be much better.
- Kitchen scale: The most accurate way to bake is to measure your ingredients by weight rather than volume. You also create fewer dishes because you are measuring each ingredient into the same bowl. This is my favorite kitchen scale because the display pulls out and makes viewing the measurements easier when using a large bowl.
- Handheld or stand mixer: Using a mixer makes quick work of mashing the bananas. If you don’t have a mixer you can use a potato masher to mash the bananas and mix the batter by hand.
- Rubber spatula: I prefer a stiff spatula like this one from OXO.
- Loaf pan: These are my favorite pans for baking loaves of quick bread. They are heavy duty which means they won’t warp and they distribute heat evenly. Plus they are non-stick which makes removing the loaves of bread really easy.
- Cooling rack: Cooling rack are essential for cooling baked goods quickly and preventing them from becoming soggy.
What can I use if I don’t have a loaf pan?
If you don’t have a loaf pan, there are a variety of other ways you could bake sourdough banana bread.
- Mini loaves: Pour the batter into three mini loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes.
- Muffins: Use this sourdough discard banana bread recipe to make 18 banana muffins. Pour the batter into lined or greased muffin pans and bake for 5 minutes at 425°F then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 8-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The total bake time is about 13-17 minutes.
- Cake pan: Nearly any cake pan will work. Cake pans come in a variety of sizes so baking time will vary. As a general rule, the larger the pan, the thinner the bread will be, the shorter the baking time needs to be.
- Pancakes or Waffles: I haven’t tried it yet but I suspect this batter would also make pretty good banana pancakes or waffles.
- Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheight. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
- Whisk the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a second large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment mix the bananas on low, gradually increasing the speed to medium-high. Continue mixing until the bananas have broken down and look like lumpy baby food.
- Add the brown sugar and oil and mix until smooth and creamy, approximately two minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each egg is fully incorporated. Mix in the sourdough discard and vanilla extract on medium speed until combined.
- With the mixer running on low speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no flour clumps remain. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 to 65 minutes. The banana bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
How do you know when sourdough banana bread is done?
Baking times for all recipes are only suggestions. The actual baking time will vary depending upon your oven. It is helpful to know your oven and worth purchasing an inexpensive oven thermometer. Oven temperatures can vary as much as 50 degrees plus or minus.
There are a few clues to look for to tell when your sourdough banana bread is done. Most quick breads will crack on top when they are fully baked. This happens because the crust sets before the loaf has finished rising.
You can also gently poke the top with your finger. If it leaves an indent bake for a few minutes longer. If it springs back your bread is probably done.
Use a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf to check for doneness. If it comes out clean or with just a crumb or two sticking to it your banana bread is done. If there is uncooked batter on the toothpick bake the banana bread for a few minutes longer.
Alternatively, you can check your banana bread with an instant-read thermometer. This one from ThermoWorks is my favorite. Once the center of the loaf has reached 200 – 205 degrees Fahrenheit the loaf is done.
For even more information about baking banana bread check out this post “How to tell when banana bread is done” from King Arthur Baking.
Why did my loaf of quick bread fall?
Check the date on your baking soda to make sure it isn’t expired and make sure you are adding the correct amount of baking soda. Adding too much will cause the bread to rise too high with too many internal air pockets which will cause it to collapse as it cools.
Don’t over-mix the batter. Over-mixing incorporates too much air into the batter and can cause it to collapse.
Use the correct size pan and do not over fill it. If your pan is too full, there will not be enough support from the sides of the pan as the bread rises.
When banana bread and all quick breads bake they rise and the sugar caramelizes to form an outer crust, which darkens and crisps as the bread bakes. The bread can look fully baked even though it isn’t. If you remove the bread from the oven too soon before the middle has had enough time to fully bake and set it will not have enough structure to support the crust.
If the top of your sourdough banana bread is browning too quickly check your oven temperature it may be too hot. You could also cover the top of the bread with a piece of foil for the last few minutes of baking to reduce the risk of the bread burning.
How do you keep quick bread from sticking to the pan?
Grease your pan well. I usually use nonstick spray but you could also use shortening, softened butter, or oil.
Line the pan with parchment paper. Leave two of the sides long to create a sling which makes removing the loaf of banana bread from the pan a breeze.
To learn more about lining a pan with parchment paper watch this video from Everyday Food.
Allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least ten minutes. As the bread cools, steam will condense along the edges and help the bread release more easily.
If the bread does stick, run a thin knife around the outer edges of the pan to loosen it.
How long should I let sourdough banana bread cool?
When you first remove the pan from the oven place it on a cooling rack to cool for 15-20 minutes. After the bread has cooled for a bit in the pan, carefully invert the pan and remove the bread. If the bread is allowed to cool completely in the pan the bottom can become soggy from trapped condensation.
If the bread sticks to the pan run a knife around the outer edges of the pan to loosen it.
Place the banana bread on a wire rack to cool completely. This will take a couple of hours.
You should make sure the sourdough discard banana bread has cooled completely before slicing or storing. If you place warm bread in a sealed container, condensation will form and make your bread soggy.
How to store
Should you refrigerate sourdough discard banana bread?
Sourdough banana bread is best when stored at room temperature. Wrapped in plastic wrap it will keep for 4-5 days. Any longer, especially when temperatures are warmer, it will start to have a fermented flavor.
How to gift wrap sourdough banana bread
Banana bread and other quick breads make wonderful home-baked gifts. While my brother was away at college I used to mail him a loaf of banana bread every couple of months. I heard they made him very popular.
How to freeze
Banana bread freezes really well. Having a couple of frozen loaves or slices in your freezer means you always have a quick and easy breakfast or snack ready.
- Once the banana bread has cooled completely, tightly wrap the whole loaf or slices (individually or grouped) in 2-3 layers of plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
- Place the wrapped banana bread in a large freezer zip-top bag or reusable container.
- Label with the date and contents and freeze for up to 6 months.
- To thaw, place the frozen banana bread on the counter. It will thaw in about 30 minutes if it’s sliced or about two to four hours if it’s a full or partial loaf.
This recipe is very forgiving and will support various substitutions.
- Flour: For a nuttier flavor swap up to half of the AP flour for whole wheat flour.
- Frozen Bananas: You can use frozen bananas instead of fresh ones. Thaw them at room temperature and drain off any excess liquid before using them in the recipe.
- Sugar: Feel free to substitute the same amount of regular white granulated sugar for the brown sugar although the bread may not be as moist. You can also reduce the amount of sugar if you prefer your banana bread less sweet.
- Oil: Swap the oil for the same amount of softened unsalted butter.
- No Sourdough Discard? Substitute sour cream, yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, or even canned pumpkin puree.
- Mini Loaves: Pour the batter into three mini loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes.
- Muffins: Use this sourdough discard banana bread recipe to make 24 banana muffins. Pour the batter into lined or greased muffin pans and bake for 5 minutes at 425°F then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The total bake time is about 20-23 minutes.
- Turn your banana bread into french toast. Cut dried out banana bread into 1/2-inch slices. Dip the slices into french toast custard and cook in a skillet or on a griddle.
This recipe for sourdough banana bread is a great base for all sorts of additional flavors. For an added flavor twist, try adding a cup of any combination of the following:
- peanut butter
- chopped chocolate
- raisins, craisins, or other chopped dried fruit
- chopped nuts
- seeds like sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- sliced fresh fruit
- shredded coconut
Stir in any additions just before pouring the batter into the pan.
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