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Monday, April 27, 2015

Ultimate Banana Bread

From Cooks Illustrated.  The extra steps of extracting banana juice and reducing it are definitely worth it.  This truly takes banana bread to a whole new level!  Be sure to use very ripe heavily speckled or even back bananas.  You can also use 5 thawed frozen bananas; since they release a lot of liquid naturally, they don't need the microwaving in step 2.  The bread is best when eaten fresh but it can be stored for up to 3 days--let cool completely and then cover tightly with plastic wrap.

1 3/4 cup flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
5 large very ripe bananas, peeled
8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
2 t granulated sugar

1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 8 1/2x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.    In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

2.  Place the 5 bananas in a large microwave-safe bowl.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife.  Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have release liquid about 5 minutes.  Transfer bananas to a fine-mesh strainer placed over a medium bowl.  Allow liquid to drain, stirring occasionally about 15 minutes until you have 1/2-3/4 cup liquid.  Place mashed bananas that are left back in the bowl.

3.  Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes.  Pour liquid from pan onto mashed bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth.  Whisk in melted butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

4.  Pour banana mixture onto the flour in the large mixing bowl and stir until just combined, with some streaks of flour remaining.  Gently fold in nuts, if using.  Then pour batter into prepared pan, scraping sides of bowl with spatula.  Sprinkle granulated or coarse sugar evenly over the top of the loaf.

5.  Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 55-75 minutes.  Cool bread in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.   Then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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