Ultimate Banana Bread!

We all love banana bread, right?  I have tried so many recipes over the years … most of them are good.  THIS one is great!  I found the recipe through my Cooks Illustrated – July/August 2010 issue.

I am not going to lie  …  this recipe does have a NEW step that I had never done before.  I had to do a “minor attitude adjustment” while making it, and I am glad that I did!  You literally microwave the bananas to get juice out of them, or you can just use some that have been previously FROZEN.  I usually buy bananas in bulk and am left with a few that get too ripe to eat anyway.  So, I unpeel them, put them in a freezer bag and pop them in the freezer.  I have been using them for my morning smoothie, but now this recipe will use up those bananas, too!

Let’s get started!  Pre-heat Convection oven to 350 degrees and I’d recommend melting your butter now, too.

  • 1 3/4 c (8 – 3/4 oz) all purposed four
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 6 average size, very ripe bananas (2.5lbs)
  • 8T unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (I highlighted this because I always miss these types of before steps!) 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) PACKED light brown sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 t granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c walnuts, toasted and chopped (OPTIONAL)

Okay, for the new bakers out there, let’s chat about something before we get started.  When you look at the above recipe, you’ll notice that there are cup measurements and metric measurements.  When baking, accuracy is really important, so most professional bakers will weigh their ingredients.  You can imagine if there were 5 of us in a kitchen, and we all measured out one cup of all purpose flour.  I bet if we weighed each of those, they would each be different.  You can buy a scale online or at any kitchen shop for about $30.  Once you get used to it, you will start to use it all the time!

One final note about flour … WHAT AN EXCITING TOPIC!  HA- HA!!  Did you know that different types of flour have different levels of protein?   Are you wondering … WHAT IS PROTEIN AND WHY DO I CARE?  It actually matters, as flour with more protein will make a denser bread.  Even different brands (generic vs. King Arthur) will have different levels of protein for the same all purpose flour.  IT DOESN’T MATTER what brand you use, just be consistent with what you buy so the outcome is the same.

To begin, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set Aside.

Place your ripened bananas in a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap (poke a few holes to vent) and microwave for about 5 minutes.

Transfer the bananas to a strainer over a bowl and let sit for about 10 minutes.

You should get at least 1/2 c of juice.  I got about a cup!  (If you freeze your bananas, let them defrost for about 4 hours and VOILA you can skip the microwaving step because you will have plenty of liquid.  You can move on to the step below and start to boil your liquid.)

Pour the 1/2 c. banana liquid into a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until it reduces down.  WATCH that it doesn’t boil over …  (apparently it’s a mess to clean up!!!)  The recipe says 5 minutes, mine took longer because I had so much liquid. ( I didn’t read the instructions where I only needed a cup) 😦

While the liquid is reducing, place your cooked bananas into a large bowl, then add the reduced liquid when ready and mash until smooth.

Whisk in the melted, but cooled butter (if the butter is too hot, it will COOK the eggs … GROSS), eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.

Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until combined. (a few white streaks from the flour are fine.)

Scrape batter into a prepared 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 pan.  (Prepared means, PAM, or lightly butter bottom and sides.)  My pan isn’t this exact size … don’t stress about that.  Just know that your time may be off by a few minutes, so check it 5 minutes sooner.

Bake for 45-60 minutes.  I use a large wooden skewer to check my bread.  You want it to come out clean.  I check at 40 minutes and then every 5 minutes after that. Overcooked banana bread is DRY.

The first time I made this bread, I took it out after it was done and thought that it was really brown and that I had cooked it TOO long. I was so disappointed after all that work.   However, when I sliced into it, I discovered that it was perfect and moist!  This recipe uses only brown sugar, thus the darker color.

Slice it up and don’t expect left overs!

Oh yea, and hit the gym!  All this cooking is making my jeans tight!

Denise

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