Banana bread is one of those easy-to-bake projects which can be hacked by anyone because it requires no special skill. Unlike other bread recipes, you don’t have to knead the dough used or even wait for hours to get a perfect rise.
The baking process is way simpler and all you have to do is mix the ingredients (which are equally fewer), scrape the batter into a loaf pan and bake; that’s it. So, it’s right to tag this as a quick bread! For this, people often have recipes that they have been using for all their banana bread fixes, but then if you want to try something new or if you’re just starting your baking adventure, here’s some good news for you.
America’s Test Kitchen baked a revolutionary ultimate banana bread in Season 11 of their cooking show. As usual, you know you can always bank on their cooking show, so if you want moist, flavorful, tender and comforting bread, try this America’s Test Kitchen Banana Bread Recipe
Ultimate Banana Bread Inspired by America’s Test Kitchen.
- 1¾ cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, Melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Even before you begin, here’s something to pay attention to. This recipe calls for heavily ripe bananas, so if you can lay your hands on black or heavily speckled ones, go for those. The ingredient section calls for 6 bananas, but then you can substitute the same with 5 thawed frozen ones because they’ll equally release the needed liquid naturally. With that, you can also skip the microwaving step as will be later highlighted and go straight to the straining step.
However, when it gets to using the bananas as add-ons, avoid using a thawed frozen one because it will get too soft, making it difficult to slice the loaf. This is also why only 5 frozen thawed bananas will be enough considering that the 6th one is to be used later as an add-on in this recipe. The recommendable baking pan to use here is that measuring 8½ by 4½ inches, but if you have a size bigger than this, remember to start checking on the bread’s doneness 5 minutes earlier than the time stated in the recipe.
Adjust the rack to a middle-lower position, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the baking pan with oil, preferably a nonstick cooking oil. Whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside, that is, the all-purpose flour, salt and baking soda.
Put 5 of the bananas (ensure they’re peeled) in a microwave-safe bowl and seal entirely with a plastic warp. On this plastic wrap, induce a couple of steam vents, which you can do using a paring knife. Place the bowl in the microwave and let the peeled bananas cook for 4 or 5 minutes under high heat. Remove the bananas from the microwave and place them in a strainer and mash using a potato masher or a sturdy fork. Ensure that the strainer is equally placed over another bowl so that you gather every drop of the liquid.
Let them drain for about 15 minutes as you also stir occasionally. At this point, you should have about ½ cup of liquid. Transfer this to a smaller saucepan and bring that to boil on the stovetop over medium heat. Let the liquid boil until it’s reduced by half the quantity you drained, ensuring that you stir it in intervals. Transfer the cooked and mashed bananas to a large mixing bowl which is enough to accommodate all your ingredients for the dough.
Over it, pour the boiled banana liquid and stir until the paste is fairly smooth. Whisk brown sugar, two eggs, vanilla extract and melted butter together with the paste. To that, add the flour, baking soda and salt mixture that you set aside earlier. To make it easier to mix, you can add the flour gradually until it’s properly mixed with the banana paste. However, there should be some flour streaks that are still visible.
Once ready, transfer that batter to the previously seasoned loaf pan. If you have any add-ons like roasted walnuts, you can fold them in before you transfer the batter to the oven. In this case, diagonally slice the remaining banana to give you ¼-inch-thick slices. Shingle these slices on any of the sides, ensuring that you leave down center spaces which are about 1½-inch-wide. This will help give the loaf an even rise.
Generously sprinkle top of the batter with the granulated sugar and place it in the oven. Let it bake for 50-60 minutes or until an oven friendly tester inserted at the center of the loaf comes out clean. When ready, remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to let it cool for about 15 minutes. After that, remove the loaf from the pan so that it continues to cool separately on the rack. Serve and enjoy as desired.
Tips on How to Bake the Best Banana Bread
- Retain moistness.
After baking, it’s how you keep the leftover bread that dictates how moist it will remain. However, it trails back to the baking process, especially the ingredients used. One way to make the bread moist is by introducing fat to it and with this you can use butter, vegetable, olive or coconut oil. At the same time, you can also add in there some eggs, yoghurt or sour cream. But then if you want to feel some nutty flavor, stick to batter as used in the recipe. Another way to keep banana bread moist is by ensuring that you correctly measure the dry ingredients especially flour, you don’t overmix the batter and that also you don’t overbake.
- Focus on perfecting the temperature settings.
Averagely, a banana bread should be ready in an hour, baked under 350 degrees, but then, you still have to compliment this with the following:
- Properly grease the loaf pan
- Avoid opening the oven while still baking
- Preheat the oven correctly before you start baking
But then if you realize that the crust is browning unusually faster, you can crown the top with an oven friendly foil so that it bakes and browns evenly.
- Get the right bananas.
Being the main ingredient, you have to make the right pick and the extremely ripe ones are unmatched. The thing is as they improvingly ripen, they become softer and sweeter which in the end contributes to the moisture needed when baking. It also makes them easy to mash, giving you a smooth paste to mix with the rest of the ingredients.
- Test early
Once you set you timer, remember to test the bread before the timer finally goes off. What testing early does is help see if the bread needs more time in the oven or whether it’s ready, so that you don’t overbake it. Another thing with testing is that you have to ensure that the tool you’re using goes all the way to the middle part of the bread, and of course, it has to be done at the center of the loaf.
You can always get the best from your banana bread when eaten fresh because that’s also when the texture is still at its best. However, considering that the recipe yields a slightly bigger loaf, you can store the rest for up to 3 days. All you have to do is ensure that the loaf is covered with a plastic warp and that before storing it, it’s completely cool.
Now if you prefer enjoying yours when warm after keeping it for some days or hours, you can give it a quick fix by heating it in the microwave for 30 seconds. You can also have it grilled or toasted depending on what feels right by your buds; just how versatile is that?