I had a ton of overly ripe bananas today and decided to try the “Ultimate Banana Bread” recipe from Cooks Illustrated. The unique trick of extracting the banana juice from double the normal quantity of bananas used in a single loaf and reducing the banana liquor really created an intensely flavored loaf.
However I had to make some modifications to the recipe to work better for me. For some reason every time I microwaved the bananas they boiled over and I lost a lot of the juice to the microwave. So I changed the cooking method to make less dishes.
Also, the extra layered bananas on the top of the loaf are a little extraneous for me so I skip that step as well. I also would eliminate walnuts since I hate them, but I’ve left them in the recipe here.
Recipe: Ultimate Banana Bread
Summary: Moist, intensely banana-flavored banana bread
- 1 ¾ cups unbleached all purpose flour, (8 3/4 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 5 each large very ripe bananas, peeled
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (1 stick)
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar, (5 1/4 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.
- Place 5 bananas in a medium pot; cover and simmer on low until bananas are thoroughly cooked and have yielded up their juice. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer and strain banana juice back into pot, pressing gently. You should have ½ to ¾ cup liquid. Put strained banana into medium bowl.
- Put pot with banana juice back over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Add in the 8 tablespoons of butter and melt into the reduced banana juice.
- Remove pan from heat and cool slighlty. Stir reduced liquid and melted butter into medium bowl with the bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.
- Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
- Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Banana flavor was introduced without too much moisture by cooking the fruit and draining it. The banana liquid is simmered in a saucepan until it is reduced and incorporated into the batter. Brown sugar is used instead of granulated and butter replaces that standard oil for extra nutty richness.
Be sure to use very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas in this recipe. This recipe can be made using 5 thawed frozen bananas; since they release a lot of liquid naturally, they can bypass the cooking in step 3 and go directly into the fine-mesh strainer. If you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan instead of the one called for in the recipe, start checking for doneness five minutes earlier than advised in the recipe. The texture is best when the loaf is eaten fresh, but it can be stored (cool completely first), covered tightly, for up to 3 days. I also love to freeze the loaves.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s)
Cooking time: 55 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8