Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ultimate Banana Bread

The title of this recipe does not disappoint. It's from Cook's Illustrated (July/August 2010), which did extensive tests to figure out how to cram 6, that's right, SIX bananas into this recipe. And it is amazing!

So, if you have a whole bunch of bananas you forgot to eat and are getting to an uncomfortable ripeness (like I had), try this. If you like bananas, you will be very happy with the results.

What you'll need:
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt (I used a bit more)
- 6 large ripe bananas (highly speckled), peeled
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (I did a little less and topped it off with white sugar. I don't know why)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (NOTE: I decided to get creative and substituted some macadamia nuts and shredded coconut. Guess I just needed some tropical flavor. It worked, but walnuts would have been better.)
- 2 tsp granulated sugar

What to do:
- Put your oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350. Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt.
- Put 5 bananas in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cut some steam vents in it and microwave for 4 or 5 minutes. The bananas should be soft and sitting in juice.
- Transfer bananas to a fine-mesh strainer and place over a bowl to collect the juice for 15 minutes.
- Transfer liquid to a small saucepan and cook to reduce to about 1/4 cup. [NOTE: I skipped this and instead just used 1/4 cup of the liquid. But you'll get a more concentrated flavor if you reduce it like the recipe says.]
- In a medium bowl, mash the bananas and add back in the juice. Stir in the butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.
- Pour banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add the nuts and stir in - but don't stir too much.
- Scrape into the loaf pan. Slice the remaining banana and layer on top of the batter, leaving a good strip down the middle without any slices so it'll rise properly. Then sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake until a toothpick comes out clean - about 50 minutes to an hour. Cool on wire rack in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool until you can't stand it anymore and need to eat it.


  1. Ummmmm, wish I had been there to sample.

  2. I don't have a microwave, is there any way to substitute the use of one and still get the same effect? I'm not a good cook but I really want to try this recipe.

  3. Hmmm, Amanda... I don't know. I suppose you could try putting them in a big saucepan with a cover and heating it. I'd be afraid they'd burn though...
    Do you have a steamer thing that fits in a pot? Maybe put them in that. That way they won't burn to the bottom and the juice will drip down. You may need to add a little water though, which will water down the juice. You'd just have to reduce it more.
    I guess experiment. Bananas are pretty cheap... Good luck!


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