A few weeks ago I had a very stressful morning and a coworker helped me out even though he was having a busy morning of his own. To thank him, I told him I’d bake him whatever he wanted. He challenged me to make banana bread. Not just any bread, some complicated banana bread from America’s Test Kitchen magazine. I had always heard that it’s best to use brown bananas for banana bread, but America’s Test Kitchen is very specific. They called for 5 bananas a week old. So I went to the store, bought a bunch of bananas and waited a week. (Ok, a little longer, but that’s just because my life is crazy!) Last night I put this recipe to the test and hoped it would meet all the expectations it held!
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 5 frozen brown bananas
- 1 stick sweet cream butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup walnuts coarsely chopped
- 1 ripe banana
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9×5 in loaf pan with non-stick spray (or olive oil if you don’t have any). Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Peel and place the 5 bananas in a microwave-safe bowl (watch out, your fingers will freeze and feel like they’re going to fall off), cover with plastic wrap and cut steam vents and microwave on high for about 5 minutes, or until the bananas are soft and sitting in liquid.
Transfer bananas into a fine-mesh strainer and place over medium bowl. Let it drain for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. About 1/2-3/4 cup liquid should result. Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until it reduces to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir the liquid into the bananas and mash it together. The recipe calls to use a potato masher and mash it until it’s smooth, I did it until I was tired and thought the chunks were small enough.
Whisk in eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and butter. Add the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir until there are just a few streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts and scrap it all into the loaf pan. Slice the ripe banana into 1/4 inch slices and top on both sides of the loaf, leaving the center open to rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over the loaf.
Bake for about 55-75 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool bread in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Both Dan and Erick were quite impressed with the banana bread. Erick raved that it was the best banana bread he’s ever had. It was a very dense texture, not the normal light bread you’d get at Starbucks. It wasn’t very sweet either, but still tasted really good. I’m very proud of my first banana bread experience!