Alton Brown Combats Banana Bread Mushiness With One Key Ingredient

Who doesn't love a fresh-baked loaf of sweet, alluring banana bread? As Alton Brown aptly puts it, "There are more than eight million recipes for banana bread on the interwebs." King Arthur Baking reports that banana bread is the internet's most-searched bread recipe, having been popularized with Great Depression frugality and the industrial-scale production of leaveners like baking soda and baking powder. When the 1930s rolled around, bread recipes based on mashed bananas had infiltrated American culinary culture, King Arthur adds, becoming an affordable and crowd-pleasing fixture in the family kitchen. Don't even get us started on chocolate chips. It's no wonder banana bread plus the internet equaled sweet success.

But for as beloved and widespread as banana bread recipes have become, this is baking we're talking about, and that means things can and do go wrong. Nothing disappoints the home cook like spending the time preparing and waiting for the bread to be done, enduring that tortuously-good aroma only to find the bread leaves a lot to be desired, like lacking that rich flavor and perfectly moist texture. Insider reports that ingredient measurement issues account for many a failed loaf, while Brown accuses many common renditions of being "insipid and mushy." Fortunately, America's fun food Frankenstein has an interesting method for achieving an exemplary banana bread crumb.

Alton Brown adds oats to banana bread

In his recipe for Oatmeal Banana Bread, Alton Brown calls for "old-fashioned" rolled oats (never instant oats), which are toasted in a preheated oven for roughly 15 minutes before being ground in a food processor until they reach "the consistency of whole wheat flour," per Brown. Toasted oat flour can also be swapped, like the country-style version by Anson Mills, but isn't the fun of baking being as hands-on and exacting as possible?

The inclusion of the oats helps balance the wet ingredients as the hearty oats absorb moisture, which results in an overall pleasing texture. Paige Bennett of Business Insider, who tried Brown's recipe alongside two other celebrities, said that the oats added their own pleasantly-surprising flavor without masking the expected sweetness of the bananas. She reported being blown away by the sweet treat, and we're not surprised given Brown's recipe history.

Go bananas for banana bread

If you needed any other reason to eat banana bread, remember that this tried-and-true classic is one of the tastiest ways to use the languishing, overripe bananas you forgot about, or sneak vegetables like zucchini into a kid's diet — yes, zucchini bread is a thing! Variations on the "quick bread" theme include pumpkin bread, applesauce bread, and even pawpaw bread — all made possible with leaveners that go to work much quicker than yeast, per Merriam-Webster. Alton Brown reminds us that rolled oats bump up the nutritional value of banana bread, which kind of already walks the line between dessert and breakfast as it is.

Banana bread is simply fabulous on its own, but certainly plays well with others. BBC Good Food tantalizes consumers with toasted banana bread complete with vanilla ricotta and raspberries. If your results fall short, consider Food Network Kitchen's Banana Bread French Toast as a way to save the day. More so, foodie superstars unsurprisingly have their own versions of perfection. Ina Garten uses buttermilk, yogurt, or even sour cream in her banana bread for a delectable tang. For a nutty, dense loaf, try Curtis Stone's banana bread with lots of toasted walnuts. For such a famous food, banana bread is both simple and complex, but with help from experts like Brown, you too can add this timeless favorite to your repertoire.