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Banana bread is a classic recipe that has exploded in popularity in recent years and has become a go-to midday snack for many. Due to its nature as a quick bread, baking soda is often added to a banana bread recipe to act as a leavening agent. However, if you realise that you’ve run out of baking soda, you may be wondering; can you make banana bread without baking soda?
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What Happens If I Don’t Use Baking Soda in Banana Bread?
Baking soda is a leavening agent. This means that it is included in a banana bread recipe so it will rise properly. A mixture of banana bread batter that includes baking soda will rise due to the chemical reaction between the baking soda and the acidic content of the recipe. This reaction will create carbon dioxide gas that forces the mixture to rise and expand.
However, when baking soda is left out of a banana bread recipe, the mixture will have little to no leavening power. As a result, it will fail to rise.
Baking Powder Banana Bread vs. Baking Soda Banana Bread
Baking powder is a substance that is often used in baking as a leavening agent. It is derived from baking soda. However, baking powder also contains an acid and buffer material such as cornstarch. The acid allows baking powder to react without an additional acidic source. The buffer material on the other hand prevents the other elements from reacting prematurely.
However, baking powder doesn’t contain the same concentration of sodium bicarbonate that baking soda does. As a result of this, to act as a baking soda substitute, you would need to add three to four times the amount of baking powder to your batter to replicate its effects.
Even if you do use the correct amount of baking powder as your leavening ingredient, baking powder will not perfectly replicate the results of using baking soda.
Appearance-wise, banana bread that uses baking powder over baking soda will have an odd-looking orange crust. Additionally, the top will be flat instead of rising into a dome and the inside will lack the characteristic black spots of banana bread.
The banana flavour and aroma is also not as strong in a baking powder made banana bread. This is because pure baking soda will help bring out the flavour and aroma of bananas.
When using baking powder in your batter, some people will find that the banana bread is quite salty. This is because the baking powder has a higher salt content than baking soda. As such, when using baking powder, you should significantly reduce the amount of salt added to the batter or use none at all.
What Can I Use To Bake Banana Bread Without Baking Soda Or Baking Powder?
Yeast Instead Of Baking Soda
Yeast is one of the oldest and most commonly used leavening agents out there. As such it is commonly used in regular bread baking.
Unlike baking powder, you can easily replace baking soda with yeast since you’d add the same amount of either ingredient to your batter. Additionally if used correctly, a banana bread recipe using yeast will be indistinguishable from one that uses baking soda.
However, the downside of using yeast instead of baking soda is that it causes the banana bread baking process to take longer. This is because before adding to the batter, the yeast needs to be diluted in water for five minutes for the bacteria to do their job. After which the batter mixture will need to be left to rest for a few hours before you begin to bake your banana bread.
Self-Rising Flour Instead Of Baking Soda
As is rather self-explanatory, self-rising (or self-raising) flour will rise on its own. As such you can bake banana bread without baking soda or indeed any other additional leavening agent.
The reason the self-rising flour can function as a leavening agent is that it is mixed with an even distribution of baking powder to flour. As a result, the process of baking banana bread with this baking soda substitute is much simpler.
Due to self-rising flour containing baking powder, most would assume the banana bread made from self-rising flour to be more like ones that use pure baking powder. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Many people report that the end result is closer to if you used baking soda in banana bread.
When making banana bread without baking soda and using self-rising flour as a substitute, there is one thing you need to remember. There is a higher salt content in baking powder and by extension, self-rising flour. As such, you should avoid adding any additional salt to your banana bread mixture.
Buttermilk Instead Of Baking Soda
Are you finding that your leavening agent substitutes don’t have the level of lift required without baking soda? Then swapping your milk for buttermilk could be the key.
This is because buttermilk adds some extra acidity to your banana bread mixture which a base such as baking powder will react to.
The resulting banana bread will be rather light and fluffy. It will also have an additional creamy and moist taste. As such, even when using baking soda, I would recommend using buttermilk, just as I would without baking soda.
If however, you don’t have buttermilk on hand, it is surprisingly easy to make from regular household ingredients. Simply mix in a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar with 250ml of milk (whole or skimmed works) and leave to rest for ten to fifteen minutes. The resulting mixture may look slightly curdled or lumpy, however, once mixed with your other ingredients, this won’t be an issue.
Baking Banana Bread Without Baking Soda
When making banana bread without baking soda, I recommend using self-rising flour and buttermilk in tandem for your leavening.
This is because any banana bread produced via this method are closer in nature to ones made with baking soda than using four teaspoons of baking powder.
The self-rising flour will allow you to make the banana bread without having to wait hours for the yeast to be ready. The buttermilk on the other hand will give a pleasant texture and creaminess to your banana bread. It also brings out more of the banana flavour.
Banana Bread Without Baking Soda Recipe
Whilst banana bread is a very forgiving and versatile recipe, there are still some issues that can arise. A common problem is banana bread being too dense. However, such issues shouldn’t arise if this recipe is followed correctly.
The following ingredients are essential for making this recipe. ⅓ Cup of Buttermilk, 2 Cups of Self-Rising Flour, 3 Very Ripe Bananas, 2 Large Eggs, 1-2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract, 1 Cup Brown of Sugar, ½ Cup of Butter.
If adding a glaze to the top of your banana bread, 1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon and 4 additional teaspoons of brown sugar are required (keep this separate from the other sugar).
Additionally, you can add some optional extras to the batter to make your banana bread extra tasty. Some ideas include 1-2 teaspoons of Cinnamon and half a cup of chocolate chips or nuts (or half and).
When making your banana bread, following the subsequent steps will help ensure that your loaf comes out perfectly:
Preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit (or roughly 180° Celsius).
Prepare an 8×5 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and baking/parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl melt the butter and mix with your cup of brown sugar. Whisk them until combined.
Crack the eggs into the mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture is smooth.
Add the buttermilk and vanilla extract and whisk into the batter.
In a separate bowl mash the bananas to your desired consistency using the end of a fork. After which, whisk them into the batter.
Add your self-rising flour and gently mix with a spatula until there is no longer any visible flour. If adding additional cinnamon into the batter, do so now.
Should you wish to add chocolate chips and/or nuts mix do so by scattering them over the top and folding them into the batter with a spatula.
Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan and level the surface with your spatula.
Bake in the preheated oven for roughly sixty minutes. DO NOT open your oven door until the top looks a caramelised dark brown in colour.
If adding a glaze you should prepare it roughly halfway through baking. To do so simply mix four teaspoons of brown sugar and one teaspoon of cinnamon and melt in a pan. Once melted set to one side, but do not allow it to dry.
When it looks ready, check the inside with the skewer test. If the inside still seems damp, put it back in the oven for five more minutes and keep doing so until the skewer pulls out clean.
When it is ready, remove the banana bread from the oven and allow it to cool, whilst still in a pan on a wire rack. If adding a glaze on top, do so now.
Once cooled, the loaf is ready to cut and serve with your accompaniment of choice.
Whilst most banana bread recipes will call for baking soda, any of the aforementioned alternatives can make excellent substitutions. Personally, I prefer a mixture of self-rising flour and buttermilk. However, your tastes may be different so feel free to experiment with different banana bread recipes. After all, experimentation is the spirit of cooking.