The Cake Mix Hack For Delightfully Lazy Banana Bread

Banana bread is such a wholesome treat. Biting into a thick slice, you can't help but be reminded of cozy sidewalk cafes, park picnics, or school bake sales. A freshly baked loaf is like your own banana-flavored butter melter. If this appeals to you, why not start baking using the ultimate banana bread cheat code: yellow cake mix?

Many recipes for basic banana bread already include the ingredients and steps to bake a plain yellow cake, with the (obvious) addition of bananas. To reduce prep time and ensure you have the perfect balance of ingredients, you can quickly make banana bread with around four very ripe bananas, a pack of yellow cake mix, and the pack's instructions for additional wet ingredients, usually eggs and vegetable oil.

Yellow cake mix provides the perfect foundation for rich, moist banana bread because it includes egg yolks in the batter (hence the yellow color). The resulting cake has a higher fat content than other popular basic cakes, like sponge cake, which results in a dense yet tender texture that complements the creaminess of baked bananas. Plus, yellow cake doesn't have an overpowering flavor of its own, allowing the bananas to remain the star in terms of taste.

Picking and prepping your bananas

To ensure your bananas blend well into the batter, select fruits that have darker peels with a good amount of brown spots. These are at the perfect stage of ripeness because they are soft with a strong banana flavor, but not so ripe that they sour the bread.

You can incorporate bananas with yellow cake mix in a few ways, depending on your preferred texture and consistency. Roughly chop them and fold them evenly throughout the batter for a loaf with gooey pockets of banana. Alternatively, use a fork to mash the bananas, then mix them with the other wet ingredients. Fold this into the cake mix for a smooth, chewy texture that delivers a consistent banana flavor throughout.

Whatever method you choose, be sure to mix the batter lightly, as overmixing increases the formation of gluten, which can result in a dense, heavy texture in the oven. To avoid this, use a spatula or fork, not an electric beater, to gently fold your bananas and wet ingredients into the cake mix. You can also limit your bananas to three instead of four if you prefer a fluffier consistency.

More creative twists for unforgettable banana bread

In the United States, banana bread is thought to have originated in the 1930s during the Great Depression, when bakers began adding overly ripe bananas to cakes to creatively reduce waste and serve inspired treats despite the challenging circumstances. Since then, bakers have gone bananas with the original recipe. Some popular additions to the batter include a handful of walnuts, almond flakes, coconut flakes, chocolate chips, raisins, or chopped dates. You can also add a dash of spices to the batter — cinnamon and nutmeg are two popular choices.

Add extracts to your batter that pair well with bananas. Tasty options include almond, vanilla, lemon, coconut, or orange extract. Even a tablespoon of instant espresso-style coffee can give your bread a well-balanced kick to offset some of the sweetness. To really spruce up your banana bread, add a bonus layer of thinly sliced bananas to the top of the batter before baking.