Saturday, March 19, 2011

Banana Bread v.3 (with Extra Bananas)

This recipe for banana bread comes from an episode of Cook's Country and is loaded with bananas and banana flavor. Instead of the usual 3 bananas, it uses 5 bananas, then you microwave the bananas to extract their juice, strain & reduce the juice down to 1/4 cup, and stir it back in with the bananas. Final touch is to slice a fresh banana and place on top of the loaf before baking. Now that's bananas!


Ingredients:
6 bananas, peeled
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. sugar


1. Place 5 peeled bananas in a medium glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, poke a few holes to ventilate, and microwave on high for 5 minutes. 


2. Place a strainer over a bowl and pour in microwaved bananas & any of their liquid. Let strain for several minutes until all the liquid comes out from the bananas. 


3. In the meantime, measure all dry ingredients (flour, salt & baking soda) into a large bowl. Using a whisk, stir together well. Set aside.


4. At this point, you can start preheating your oven to 350F.


5. Remove strained bananas to a medium bowl. Pour banana liquid into a measuring cup to see how much you have. If more than 1/4 cup, place in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about a minute until juice is reduced to 1/4 cup. 


6. Wet Ingredients: Pour the banana liquid back into the strained bananas and mix together with a potato masher. Mash until there are no large pieces of banana. Add 1 stick of melted butter, 1 tsp. of vanilla, and 2 eggs, and whisk together well. Stir in 3/4 cup of brown sugar and whisk until sugar is mostly melted and there are no lumps in the mixture. 


7. Very gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients using a rubber spatula. Do not over mix the batter or you'll end up with a rubbery loaf. Stir in chopped walnuts.


8. Pour batter into a greased and floured 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" baking pan (or you can spray it with Pam for baking). Layer fresh banana slices on top of the batter along the sides of the loaf. Sprinkle 2 tsp. of granulated sugar over the banana slices and top of the loaf. 


9. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. 


10. Remove loaf from oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, unmold the loaf and place back on wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, wrap loaf tightly in aluminum foil and store at room temperature. The bread will become more flavorful after a day or two. 


Use really ripe bananas for the best flavor.

Place 5 peeled bananas in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap & poke a few holes to ventilate.

Microwave bananas on high for 5 minutes. I know...looks really gnarly, but the end result is tons of banana flavor.

Strain bananas over a bowl.

In the meantime, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, salt & baking soda) in a large bowl. Set aside.

Ingredient assembly: baking soda, vanilla extract, brown sugar, unsalted butter, 2 large eggs.

Measure out about 3/4 cup of whole walnuts and lightly toast in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Should take about 5-7 minutes.

Remove toasted walnuts to a chopping board and when cool enough to handle, chop coarsely. Chopped walnuts should measure around 1/2 cup.

Pour strained banana juice into a small pan and bring to a boil. Continue boiling for a couple minutes until juice is reduced to about 1/4 cup.

Pour the reduced banana juice back in with the banana pulp. 

Mash the bananas & juice together with a potato masher until there are no large pieces of banana left.

Pour in melted butter.

Then add 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla extract (kinda creepy looking).

Whisk until thoroughly blended.

Next, add 3/4 cup brown sugar.

Whisk until sugar is mostly melted and there are no lumps in the mixture. 

Slice 1 fresh banana into 1/4" thick slices. Set aside.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

Gently fold wet ingredients into dry with a rubber spatula.

Stir in chopped walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared (buttered & floured) loaf pan.

Arrange sliced bananas along the sides of the loaf. 

Sprinkle 2 tsp. of granulated sugar over the banana slices and the top of the loaf. Bake about 50 minutes at 350F. The original recipe calls for 1 hour of baking, but my oven runs hot so 50 minutes is the max or else the loaf will come out dry around the edges. 

When done, remove the loaf from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove the loaf from the pan and place back on wire rack to cool completely.

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