Banana bread on steroids
222g unbleached all-purpose flour or Bobs/Rainbow 1:1 GFF works fine here and you can’t taste the difference
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
4-5 large very ripe bananas, peeled
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly - ideally browned!
2 large eggs
150g brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The draining step makes this recipe a bit of a time consuming (waiting) pain in the ass. And ideally you should have a microwave or you'll wait even longer.
Be sure to use very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas in this recipe. This recipe can be made using 5 thawed frozen bananas; since they release a lot of liquid naturally, they can bypass the microwaving in step 2 and go directly into the fine-mesh strainer. The test kitchen’s preferred loaf pan measures 8½ by 4½ inches; if you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, start checking for doneness five minutes earlier than advised in the recipe. This recipe will also exactly fill a standard size 12 muffin tin. The texture is best when the loaf is eaten fresh, but it can be stored (cool completely first), covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.
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 bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have ½ to ¾ cup liquid).
Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. [DEX NOTE: for extra points keep the liquid going until it starts to caramelize, you may reduce more than described but thats fine.] Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. [DEX NOTE: more bonus points: brown the butter! Cool with half an ice cube in a pyrex before adding and deglaze the pan with the other half of the ice cube, this restores the hydration lost in browning and can also help make up for the extra reduction you did on the banana juice, you did caramelize it, righhhht? 🤤) Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.
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. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes (25 to 30 minutes for muffins). Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
You can make this ahead! Up to 8-10 hours. It tastes better when rested too!