Sunday, June 20, 2010

OMG it smells good in my house!

A couple of years ago I began a subscription to Cook's Illustrated magazine. I'm telling you in all honesty that every recipe I've tried from them is A-MA-ZING!

Today I made a recipe from this month's issue, called "Ultimate Banana Bread" -- and it calls for 6 very ripe bananas (yes, for one loaf!) Of course, when I buy bananas just for eating, I like them slightly under-ripe, but they're almost always all either ripe already, or they ripen so quickly I only get 1 or 2 that I like. Since this recipe called for "very ripe" to "almost black" bananas, all of the bananas in the store were green and hard as rocks, and despite placing them in a brown paper sack to ripen more quickly, these decided to take their time and have been on my kitchen table, in a closed bag, all week and finally were speckled enough today to use for the recipe. Murphy's Law...

This recipe is a little more complicated than your basic banana bread, but OH SO WORTH IT! By using 5 bananas from which you've removed most of the excess liquid, then reducing that liquid down to draw out the intense flavor, you get a loaf bursting with banana flavor but not sludgy and overly wet. This bread has a delectable moist crumb, and by slicing and shingling the 6th banana over the top, then sprinkling with sugar, you get a buttery, caramelized crunchy top which contrasts so deliciously!

Here's the recipe:
1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 large very ripe bananas
1 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts (optional)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Adjust over rack to middle and preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 8.5 by 4.5 loaf pan with non-stick spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

Place 5 peeled bananas in a microwave safe bowl covered with plastic wrap, vent by slicing with paring knife several times. Heat on high about 5 minutes until the bananas are soft and have released liquid. Transfer bananas to a fine mesh strainer placed over a medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes - (you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup liquid).

Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. 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. Slice remaining banana diagonally into 1/4 inch thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1-1/2 inch wide space down the center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 - 75 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

1 comment:

  1. Cooks Illustrated has the best recipes. I find many of them are a little more complex that I have time for on a daily basis...BUT they are always amazing when I do make them.