Oh, banana bread. I love banana bread. Today, St. Louis got loads and loads of snow. Since this is my first winter, I didn’t know really what to expect, other than it being cold and looking beautiful. Waking up and walking out this morning was like a dream: snow covered literally everything, including my car, which meant I was staying home. I was originally going to recreate my gnocchi cheesy-bake, but there were a few ingredients I didn’t have and with my car being covered in snow (and no shovel in sight) there was no way I was going to leave my house. I thought it would be a perfect time to bake some banana bread because 1. why not and 2. I’ve been waiting for these bananas to ripen up for 2 weeks for this bread! Good banana bread starts with good bananas. Behold:
If you’ve made banana bread before, then you probably have followed a recipe that calls for REALLY ripe bananas. This one is no different. The more spotted the banana, the sweeter they are, and the better your banana bread will be. Trust me on this. I’ve had these bananas sitting on my counter for 2 weeks waiting for them to ripen up! My go-to, favorite recipe for banana bread comes from Americas Test Kitchen, aka ATK. I love ATK because I know their recipes are tested and they’ve always worked well for me. The process for this banana bread is definitely different, but I have never found a recipe to result in banana bread that tastes as good and has the same good texture.
The “cooking” of the bananas releases a sugary, banana-y syrup that imparts such rich, banana flavor without sacrificing the texture of the loaf. Because you are extracting the liquid, reducing the liquid, and using cooked bananas, the loaf remains light and doesn’t get dense. I use 6 smallish bananas, but you can certainly use less if you have larger bananas. The goal is to get 1/2 to 3/4 cups of the banana syrup.
I like to top the loaf off with slices of banana just so YOU KNOW that this is a banana bread loaf. Let it be known, I don’t own this recipe, and I have modified it just a smidge to my liking. If I may say one thing: my house smells like delicious banana bread and I’m not leaving anytime soon… even if the snow melts. Enjoy!
Let's get this (banana) bread
My favorite recipe for banana bread has the perfect texture and unmistakable taste of bananas
- 1 3/4 cups AP flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6 very ripe bananas, about 2 pounds, peeled (important that they are very ripe) and 1 extra banana for the top
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare your loaf pan by spraying it with non-stick spray or coating in butter. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In a medium sized microwave-safe bowl, place the bananas and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Cut steam vents in the plastic wrap with a knife. Microwave on high power until the bananas are softer and have released their liquid, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer the bananas (carefully, the bowl and bananas will be hot) to a fine mesh strainer placed over a large measuring cup or bowl and allow to drain, stirring and mashing occasionally for about 15 minutes. You should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup of banana liquid.
- Transfer the liquid to a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the liquid has been reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir the reduced liquid into the bananas and mash with a fork or whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
- Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until combined, leaving a few streaks of flour. Fold in the walnuts using a rubber spatula if using. Pour the batter into a prepared pan and sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over the top of the loaf.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- To store: wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and place into a reusable container, for up to 3 days. Enjoy!