things that make me go blue – banana bread
I have to admit that this Winter has been tough. Winter Blues have been knocking on my front door and trying to push their way in. But this is the Year of the Rabbit–darn if I’m going to let it win.
Another thing that tries to get the better of me is the loaf pan. Perhaps it’s because I got discouraged at an earlier stage of cooking. Try as I may to use the loaf pan, bake goods usually come out uneven, dry on the outside, or still under baked in the center. I now reserve the loaf pan for making meat loaf and terrines.
Ever since I got on Twitter, I’ve heard about and read tons of delicious recipes using the loaf pan; which gave me a renewed mission for conquering this vessel. Banana Bread is the first thing that I associate with the loaf pan when it comes to baking, so when Cook’s Illustrated published a recipe that calls for pre-cooking lots of bananas to pack into a single loaf, I knew I would have to test it.
After a few bubbling experiments of microwaving bananas, adding them to the batter and baking everything in the oven, I’ve adapted the recipe to come up with a version that I love. The loaf has a moist crumb texture that’s loaded with five whole bananas. Additional bananas are used to top the loaf for a caramelized crusty top.
This Banana Bread totally revived my confidence in the loaf pan. A day of warmer weather here and there tells me to hang in; Spring will be here soon. Meanwhile, with this delicious Banana Bread, things are looking up in the Year of the Rabbit.
- 1-3/4 cups (8-3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 large very ripe bananas, peeled
- 8 tablespoons (4 ounces/1 stick) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup walnuts , toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350℉. Spray 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl, set aside.
2. Place 5 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 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium-size bowl and allow to drain for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, (you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup liquid).
3. Transfer liquid to a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 4-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid and bananas into a bowl, and mash until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, sour cream and vanilla.
4. Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch-thick 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.
5. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 50 to 70 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack.
recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated