Friday, February 3, 2012

Banana Bread

* 1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 5 very ripe bananas
* 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
* 2 large eggs
* 3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse (optional)
* Additional optional banana, not as ripe as the others
* 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pan with vegetable oil spray.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.
3. Place 5 ripe bananas in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and poke 3 to 4 venting holes in the plastic. Microwave until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes (you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup liquid).
4. Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until mostly smooth.
5. Whisk butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla into the bananas.
6. Pour banana mixture into dry ingredients and stir until just combined, with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
7. Slice optional banana diagonally into 1/4‑inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of loaf in 2 rows, leaving 11/2‑inch wide space down center to ensure even rise.
8. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
9. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Let loaf cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving.

This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen, and it redeemed them in my eyes after the pork roast failure earlier in the week! While the bananas sliced on the top looked beautiful, I was the only one that enjoyed them, so perhaps those can be optional. 50 minutes was the perfect amount of time in my oven.

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