Banana bread is one of those classic recipes that everyone loves.
It’s also a great opportunity to use up some of the ripe bananas that are hanging around from last week.
Banana bread is a staple for so many people. It’s so easy to make and perfect for breakfast, snack time, or as dessert!
The banana adds moisture to the bread, but it’s also an essential part of the recipe. If your banana isn’t ripe enough to use raw in your banana bread, you might have trouble getting that moist, gooey texture.
But what if you don’t have access to a bunch of different flours? Or what if you just want to use up some extra dried fruits that are starting to go bad?
But can you use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour? Yes, this would help provide a better structure and make a denser banana bread that will stay with you longer, but you’ll need to add a little more liquid to your recipe to compensate for the drier flour.
What Flour Do You Usually Use for Banana Bread?
Being designed to work well for almost anything you use it for, all-purpose flour is often recommended for banana bread. It isn’t necessarily the best but makes a fine loaf.
The nice thing about flours is that you can tell a lot about many of them by their names. Cake flour is good for cakes.
This light, fluffy flour makes equally light, fluffy cakes. This light, fluffy texture combats with the weight of the banana perfectly giving you a wonderful, decadent loaf. Despite its name, banana bread is actually a type of cake.
Whole Wheat Flour
This flour holds dense nutrition thanks to the milling process being completed before anyone removed the bran and germ.
The bran and germ being ground in give whole wheat flour a nutty and dense texture that works really well with cakes that have other fillings like bananas.
Can You Use Bread Flour for Banana Bread Instead of All-Purpose Flour?
The simple answer is, yes you can use bread flour for banana bread. But there are some things to consider as your loaf will not be the same and other recipe alterations may be necessary.
Will it ruin your loaf? No, but the results will not be the same. There will be noticeable texture differences.
Normally, the structure of banana bread is maintained by the bananas and the eggs, not the flour. By adding in the drier and gluten-heavy bread flour, you’re adding a competing element to the structure of the bread that isn’t necessary.
Banana bread also uses baking soda or powder as a leavening agent, not yeast. There isn’t much rise to this bread while it bakes so it doesn’t need to be able to stretch like yeast breads with that gluten.
The higher gluten content in bread flour makes it difficult to replace all-purpose flour, especially in a recipe like banana bread.
It’s not a matter of simply replacing flour for flour, other adjustments will have to be made in order to compensate for the higher density and moisture absorption.
Bananas are also a heavy ingredient. To make soft bread you can’t add heavy flour on top of other heavy ingredients. You want to add flour that makes your dough lighter. Bread flour simply can’t do that.
There are solutions to this problem, but they require you to have more ingredients on hand. It may be easier to just go get some cake flour!
Substituting a portion of the flour with rice flour alongside the bread flour may help decrease your bread density. Rice flour is gluten-free and would decrease gluten levels overall in your banana bread.
Being a no-knead bread, gluten doesn’t develop as much in the first place when making banana bread. Breaking up your bread flour with another, low/no-gluten flour may do the trick for you and fix the density issues caused by bread flour.
Bread flour will absorb more of the liquid portion of your recipe.
The proper consistency can be reached by adjusting the liquid and eggs. It is also recommended to add another ½ banana to adjust the moisture levels properly.
For each cup of bread flour, add 2 tablespoons of extra liquid to your recipe.
What’s the Difference Between Bread Flour and All-Purpose Flour?
What They’re Made of
The main difference between the two flours is that they are made from different types of wheat.
All-purpose flour is made from a combination of wheat, rye, and a few other grains at a 60% to 40% ratio of bread flour to cake flour.
Bread flour is strictly a wheat product.
Gluten is the naturally occurring protein in wheat flour that gives baked goods their structure.
Bread flour has a higher protein (hence higher gluten) content of 11% compared to the 8.5-9% in all-purpose flour. Cake flour has even less at 6% gluten.
All-purpose flour is milled with the idea that it can be used in pretty much anything, hence the name. This flour is a medium gluten flour for general use. This would be anything designed to have a softer texture and fine crumbs like cakes, pastries, and quick breads like banana bread.
Bread flour on the other hand is milled specifically for the baking of bread. Its high gluten content creates the firm texture and chewy crust we want in regular, non-quick breads or more specifically, for breads that use yeast to rise.
This higher protein is essential for yeast breads as there isn’t much else in the dough other than water, yeast, salt, and sometimes additional fat. The higher protein levels in this flour literally make the structure of the bread, holding all of those other ingredients together.
As the yeast causes the dough to rise, the gluten stretches to maintain the structure, providing you with that chewy loaf.
The fat content in all-purpose flour contributes to the light, soft texture of the resulting baked goods.
Bread flour tends to be more expensive. If you love making homemade bread, then the expense is worth it for those perfectly chewy loaves with that crunchy outer crust.
All-purpose flour is not only readily available everywhere, but costs significantly less. Because it works for so many purposes, most people already have it on hand.
What is Bread Flour Best Used for?
Bread. Yeast breads, sourdoughs, and pizza doughs, to be specific.
Higher gluten levels are ideal for bread recipes that use yeast to rise. The gluten helps with the internal structure and aids the yeast in the rising process.
The higher starch content in bread flour also makes it a drier flour, great for yeast breads again but not for cakes and pastries.
The higher protein content also makes it an ideal flour for pizza dough. The proteins help hold shape while baking and add that perfect texture to the finished crusts on both bread loaves and pizza crusts.
What is the Best Flour Substitute for a Banana Bread Recipe?
Cake flour makes the best banana bread hands down. Cake flour has the lowest protein content and thus makes the lightest consistency when competing with those heavy bananas.
If you don’t have all-purpose flour on hand, reach for cake flour, not bread flour. The leading brands of flour like King Arthur and Pilsbury usually have a cake flour variety packaged next to their whole wheat and bread flour.
It’s worth the extra cost to get that perfect, airy consistency to everyone’s favorite quick bread.
Can you use bread flour for banana bread instead of all-purpose flour? The short answer is yes!
The longer answer is that you use all kinds of flour for different types of baked goods. There is no single best flour for all applications.
Banana bread made with bread flour will require additional recipe alterations to achieve that iconic banana bread texture.
Bread flour is dense, more than all-purpose flour. It’s also the best flour to use if you want a loaf of bread with a nice crust and a fluffy, open crumb. All-purpose flour on the other hand is a standard flour that can be used in most applications.
The best choice for your homemade banana bread is cake flour. If you’re out of cake flour and all-purpose flour, but have that bread flour on hand go for it.
Add in another half of a banana or a splash of more milk or water and see what happens. You never know, you may like the heavier texture.