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The tender, intensely flavored banana bread that you (and everyone else) have been craving

By America's Test Kitchen, Tribune Content Agency on

Over the last month, hundreds of thousands of people have searched for "banana bread recipe" online. Maybe it's because banana bread is familiar and comforting, or because it's a bread that doesn't require any yeast, which can be tough to find in stores these days. Whatever the reason, its surge in popularity got us thinking about the number of banana bread recipes we've developed in the Test Kitchen over the years. Out of all of them, the most popular is our Ultimate Banana Bread.

Tired of loaves that were cottony or dense, unevenly baked or lacking in ripe banana flavor, we developed a recipe that righted those wrongs. This isn't your typical dump and stir recipe -- it takes a bit more work, but the payoff is a moist, tender loaf with intense banana flavor and an attractive presentation. It turns the humble banana bread into a true showpiece.

One of the keys to our perfect loaf was using six bananas, which is double the number called for in most recipes. To get this true fruit flavor without sinking the bread's cakelike structure, we "juiced" five bananas in the microwave, then reduced the banana liquid we collected and used it in the batter. Not only did this step infuse the bread with ripe, intensely fruity banana flavor, it helped to create a crumb that was tender through and through, without being framed by overly crusty sides.

For a final flourish (and even more fruity flavor), we shingled a sixth banana over the top of the loaf, placing the slices along the sides of the pan for an even rise. We then sprinkled the top of the loaf with granulated sugar so the top baked into a caramelized crown -- the perfect accessory for a showstopping loaf.

Ultimate Banana Bread

Makes one 9-inch loaf

 

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled (see note)

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