For the ultimate banana bread you want a bread loaded with great banana flavor that’s moist and tender, but not overly moist or soggy.
When America’s Test Kitchen emailed me a link to their Ultimate Banana Bread recipe and video, I just happened to have 3 very ripe bananas on the counter. We eat a lot of banana bread and our favorite is a recipe from Cooking Light, Better Banana Bread. We’ve been making that banana bread recipe several times a month for years. However, I’m always happy to try a new recipe, especially one that claims to be the Ultimate Banana Bread.
Their theory behind the recipe is that you need to use lots of bananas to achieve a great banana flavor, but if you use too many bananas the texture is mushy. They solve this problem by softening the bananas in the microwave, and then separating the banana juice from the bananas and reducing the banana juice on the stove. They have a video explaining how they came up with the recipe and their process.
The trouble was the recipe called for 6 very ripe bananas and I only had 3 bananas, so I decided to divided the recipe in half and make two cute little banana bread loaves.
My daughter loves Craisins in her banana bread, so we added dried cranberries to the banana bread. I usually don’t like walnuts in my banana bread, and I didn’t like them in this banana bread either. I think in a bread that highlights the banana flavor, the walnuts were overpowering. If you’re going to go to all the trouble to reduce banana juice you should just let the bananas shine.
Their method doesn’t take a lot more time, but you sure do dirty a lot of dishes. In the end though, the flavor and texture of this banana bread is excellent. I may have to agree, this maybe the ultimate banana bread.
3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 large very ripe bananas
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350º. Spray two mini loaf pans (5 3/4 x 3 1/4 x 2 1/4) with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.
Place 2 1/2 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 2 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have 1/4 to 1/3 cup liquid).
Transfer liquid to small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.
Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in dried cranberries and walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
Slice remaining half banana diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick half moon slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1 1/2-inch-wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 10 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
More banana bread recipes you might like:
Chunky Monkey Banana Bread, Barbara Bakes
Banana Nutella Bread, Barbara Bakes
Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread, Barbara Bakes
Coconut Pecan Banana Bread, Add A Pinch
Orange Blossom and Honey Banana Bread, A Cozy Kitchen
30 Favorite Banana Bread and Banana Recipes, Averie Cooks
Biscoff Banana Bread with Biscoff Cookie Streusel, Two Peas and Their Pod