Best Banana Bread By Far

Saturday, September 17, 2016

What is so special about this, you ask? What about it that makes it the best banana bread by far? Well, I've made my fair share of banana breads with so many variations and this recipe is slightly different in that it cooks the bananas, thereby making it so much more naturally sweeter, thereby reducing the need for extra sugar.

And more importantly, after the bananas are cooked, they are drained, thereby reducing the moisture content of said bananas, making them more dense, and making the cakes moist yet springy, without all that excess moisture from the bananas weighing it down.

All this extra effort just produces a naturally sweeter, lighter, more banana-y flavour. And I am all for that!

So I did some googling and viewed so many banana bread recipes out there ... but there was one that was distinctly different. Cook's Illustrated had cooked bananas in their recipe. Hmmm ... maybe they're on to something there. Naturally, I was piqued and gave it a shot. And I'm sold!

Yes, there are fabulous banana breads that require no extra effort in cooking them and they may be my weekly version of banana bread. And yet there is this. And let's say you're taking a sweet dish to a friend's place or a potluck and you want something to make them think, make this banana bread. They're going to wonder how the heck you made banana bread so dang good, they're going to wonder how it is so light yet so moist, how did it get so banana-y and if they know their stuff, they're going to ask you for a recipe. Er ... speaking from experience, of course ;)

This week I made at least 4 banana breads, yes, 4! All different recipes. And the ones that made it on the blog was this amazing cooked banana bread and a chocolate banana bread that I also thought was fabulous. This one was so good that I actually scrapped my earlier banana bread recipe from the blog.

Out with the old, in with the new, and if I found one that was better, than better not confuse my kids who will hopefully, in the future, want to look for my recipe for banana bread, right?

As you can tell, I only added a wee bit of chopped walnuts here, but if chocolate chips is your thing, then please feel free to add them. Even my children were going 'Mom, where's the chocolate?', so yes, I've been there a few times.

This recipe makes one loaf. Slice, wrap individual portions, take to work or school, and you've got yourself a fabulous snack. I doubt you want to share.

5 fully ripened, almost blackened bananas
220 g (1-3/4 cup) all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
115 g (8 tbsp - 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
2 large eggs, at room temperature
150 g (3/4 cup) light brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
60 g (1/2 cup) toasted walnuts

1. Break the bananas into chunks and cook it on a non-stick pan until it has turned into a purée and its juices start running clear. This may take 15 minutes.
Alternatively, you can place them in a bowl, cover with a plastic wrap that is pierced in a few spots, and microwave it for 5 minutes.
2. Cool, then strain the cooked bananas. You will get about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of clear banana juice.
3. Return this to the same pan and cook until it has reduced to about 1/4 cup.
4. Add this reduced banana juice back to the bananas and blend until smooth.

5. Preheat the oven to 175C or 350F.
6. Butter a 23x12 cm or 9x5 inch loaf pan.

7. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, and salt.
8. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cooled melted butter, eggs, light brown sugar, vanilla extract, and the banana mixture.
9. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour, mix until just combined, then add the walnuts and fold through.
10. Transfer the batter into the loaf pan, and bake for 60-70 minutes until it passes the skewer test.
11. Cool while still in the pan for 5-10 minutes, before removing the bread from the pan to cool completely.

It will take a lot of effort, but kindly refrain from slicing into it while still hot. As always, speaking from experience ;)

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