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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ultimate Banana Bread!!!!

So... I love banana bread. Who doesn't? But every recipe I've ever tried has only been mediocre. Until one day we were watching America's Test Kitchen on the CREATE channel (if you don't know what the CREATE channel is you should totally find out! Here's the link to their site: http://www.createtv.com/), and they did a spot forThe Ultimate Banana Bread. I tried it out and found it to be AMAZING! It was gone in less than two days it was so good. What sets this particular recipe apart from the others is that it use 6 bananas instead of the normal 3 or 4. Six! That's a lot of banana! But who's complaining, right?

The recipe can be found on the America's Test Kitchen website: http://www.americastestkitchen.com/recipes/detail.php?docid=25349&extcode=M**ASCA00. The only thing is, to be able to view the actual recipe and all the tips they give, you have to register with them. It's 100% FREE and all you have to do is sign up!

Did you know that bananas are full of liquid? Neither did I! That, apparently, is the secret to giving this banana bread all of its banana-y flavor while keeping it moist. With that said, on to the recipe!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large VERY RIPE bananas peeled (I'll talk about this below)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons white granulated sugar


 The Recipe:

1. Make sure your oven rack is in middle position and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 1/2  X 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.





2. Place 5 of your bananas in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and poke several steam vents in the plastic. Microwave on high power until the bananas are soft and have released liquid (that's where the liquid comes from!), it takes about 5 minutes.

 
3.  Transfer the bananas to a fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl and allow them to drain. Stir them occasionally for about 15 minutes (you should end up with about ½ to ¾ cup liquid).

 *Looks kind of gross, but do you see the liquid in the bottom? 

4. Transfer all of the liquid to a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high to high heat until reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes.


5.  Remove pan from heat, stir the reduced liquid into your cooked bananas and mash a with potato masher until fairly smooth.


6. Whisk in the butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.


7. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using (I didn't).


8.  Scrape the batter into your prepared pan.


9.  Slice remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices.


10.  "Shingle" the banana slices on top of both sides of the loaf, leaving space down the center of the loaf, to ensure an even rise. Then sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over the top.




11.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 55 to 75 minutes (mine took about 60 minutes). Cool bread in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack.


12.  Serve warm or at room temperature. But it's really good warm :)


This recipe is super easy, especially if you go to the website above. They explain why you need to use VERY RIPE bananas and you can watch the clip they aired on the show. If you go to the market sometimes they'll have ripe bananas for sale at a discount, I got mine at the local IGA for $.90! This way you don't have to wait days for them to ripen enough. Apparently, the more brown the banana is, the more fructose there is in the banana. Hence why there isn't a lot of sugar in this recipe. I give this recipe a 2 for ease of use. All my friends and co-workers love this banana bread :) It truly is the "best" banana bread recipe out there (at least that I have found).

When doing this, I actually made two loaves. One the way the recipe called for and one a little different. The results were very surprising. In place of the unbleached all-purpose flour, I used whole wheat flour. I also added a few tablespoons of walnut oil (since I didn't use any walnuts) and the loaf turned out the same except the texture and flavor were slightly different. It had a denser texture and there was a small hint of nut flavor. It also tasted "healthy", but in a delicious way. Next time I use this recipe, I will do it my way. I liked it best and I think it helps makes it my own. Hope you enjoy!

~Carson~

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