I have no idea why, but for the last week my kids have been begging me to make them banana bread. Like, asking me multiple times a day if I can make it for them. I’m not sure where this is coming from since I’ve never made it or had it in the house – I HATE bananas. So does my oldest, but apparently he still likes banana bread. That makes sense…. But I figure since it has bananas in it, it has to be a healthier option than the brownies and cupcakes I’m usually baking so it’s worth trying!
I thought it was going to be as easy as pulling out a recipe and mashing up the bananas I had on hand then mixing them into a little flour and sugar. HA! So I pulled out my newest cookbook that I got this Christmas since I seem to have good luck with the America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated recipes. Their banana bread recipe called for super ripe bananas….and of course this is one of the handful of times the bananas we have in the house are green…. So I learned about ripening bananas. If you put them in a brown bag and keep it closed (try and store in a warm room in the house) they will ripen much faster. (If you’re interested in this and want to know why it works, google it 🙂 Unfortunately it still took about 3 days – and I had 3 more days of explaining to the kids why they needed to wait longer for this bread…. I should have just looked up a different recipe at this point!
So eventually the bananas were rip enough to give this a try. The kids loved it, my husband loved it, so if you like bananas (or maybe even if you don’t) then you should give it a shot! Fair warning – your entire house will smell of bananas, and not a good banana smell. Somehow, even the basement smelled like bananas (dare I say rotten bananas?!?) Maybe I’m just sensitive to the banana smell.
So this recipe is from the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book – I highly recommend it – so far everything has turned out amazing!
You will need:
- 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 very ripe bananas (I only had 5 and this worked just fine)
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
- 2 tsp sugar
- Adjust the oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350º F. Spray 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray (I used Baker’s Joy and it worked great).
- Place 5 bananas in a bowl, cover and microwave until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine mesh strainer over a bowl and allow to drain. Stir occasionally. After about 15 minutes you should have about 1/2 to 3/4 cup liquid.
- While you are waiting on the bananas, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
- Transfer the banana liquid to a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Remove from heat and stir liquid into bananas. Mash with a potato masher until mostly smooth.
- Whisk in the melted butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.
- Pour banana mixture into bowl with dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Some streaks of flour should remain. If using, fold in walnuts. Scrape batter into pan.
- Slice remaining banana diagonally into 1/4 inch thick slices and shingle on top of loaf in two rows (leaving an inch between). Sprinkle sugar evenly over top of loaf.
- Bake until toothpick inserted into middle of loaf comes out clean. This can be as quick as 55 minutes, or up to an hour and 15 minutes. Mine was on the longer side. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan then transfer to wire rack to cool for an hour.
This is best served warm but I did make a second time and it stays for a few days if tightly covered.
Now, how to get this banana smell out of the house…..