The Fruit Juice You Should Be Adding To Banana Bread

Though it may be humble, a basic banana bread recipe is a comforting baked good we turn to again and again. One reason it calls to bakers like a siren is its ability to take on numerous mix-ins. From chocolate chips or toasted nuts to a bonus banana on top, banana bread welcomes plenty of flavor additions. But what about ingredients that can make the banana bread stand out all on its own? 

Enter orange juice, a ubiquitous fruit drink that you may associate with breakfast rather than baking. Going well beyond its morning beverage reputation, orange juice can become the secret ingredient to perfectly tasty and tender banana bread. The acidic nature of orange juice helps make your baked goods have a more tender texture and soft crumb. It can also help interact with basic baking soda to create plenty of carbon dioxide, which helps your quick bread rise. Meanwhile, the subtle hit of citrus can help complement the earthy sweetness of the banana itself without overpowering it completely. Across the board, a bit of orange juice can supercharge your plain banana bread recipe. 

Adding orange juice to banana bread

So how should you go about adding a bit of orange juice to your next loaf of banana bread? First, consider what liquid is called for in your banana bread. If it calls for ½ cup of milk or buttermilk, consider subbing in half of that amount with orange juice (essentially ¼ cup of milk and ¼ cup of orange juice). You want to be careful not to add too much liquid on top of the existing liquid so that your batter doesn't become too wet. If no liquid is present outside of eggs and fat, add up to ¼ cup of orange juice to the batter and increase the amount of flour if you notice it's too wet.

Some recipes specifically geared toward the orange flavor can call for as much as ¾ cup of orange juice but will dial down the other liquid ingredients considerably. Just know it's a delicate balance in regard to moisture, so err on the side of caution when adding juice. One final thing to check is to make sure that your recipe calls for baking soda as this will help balance out the acidic qualities of the citrus. Beyond that, the orange juice won't change the recipe much.  

Double down on the citrus flavor

What else can you add to this banana bread loaf with that lovely citrus flavor in mind? Well if you want to double down on that orange taste, consider adding in a tablespoon of orange zest. The aromatic oils in the zest will bring the floral notes of the citrus to the forefront of your palate. Other elements that work wonders with oranges are strong chocolate and warm cinnamon, so think about tossing in a handful of bittersweet chocolate chips or a teaspoon of freshly ground cinnamon. Or you can add another beverage favorite to this loaf, mixing in a bit of Earl Gray tea, an herbal brew that welcomes the sharpness of citrus thanks to its use of bergamot. 

Already baked your bread? It's not too late! You don't even have to add anything to the loaf directly. Instead, think of topping off your still-warm banana bread with a brush of orange marmalade. The preserve will melt into the hot loaf, creating a kind of citrus glaze. A chocolate glaze could be an equally sweet touch or even a simple sugar glaze cut with more orange juice (or Earl Grey tea). Whatever you opt for, make the most of your OJ by incorporating it into your next banana bread.