Everybody needs a good banana bread recipe. How else will we use up that one banana that inevitably winds up all sad and brown at the bottom of the fruit bowl? Also, quick breads are yummy and even I can’t subsist entirely on Chai Spiced Butternut Squash Bread…(although come October I always give it the ol’ college try.) What I like about this particular banana bread recipe is that the inside is perfectly moist while the top develops just the right amount of caramelized crunch. I also love the sweet little banana slices along the edges. Pretty.
Apparently, people tend to feel very strongly one way or another regarding the presence of nuts in banana bread. (I always thought it was a given…”banana nut” is sort of an institution…) I obviously fall firmly into the “pro” camp, but only if we’re talking about pecans. Walnuts have absolutely no place here. Little chunks of chocolate or a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips on the other hand, could find themselves right at home here, folded into this flavorful banana batter.
I’ll be honest, I enjoy a good slice of banana bread, but it’s not something I really crave. So I can’t say that I ever found myself really searching for the perfect recipe. Rather I stumbled upon Cooks Illustrated‘s “ultimate banana bread recipe” and found myself intrigued. The recipe called for heating the bananas, straining out the juice, reducing the juice in a pan, and finally stirring it back in to the batter. This was too much for me. I mean, serious overkill. Obviously I’m no real banana bread connoisseur, because I did not notice a difference. I did notice, however, that it took me about 25 minutes longer to reduce this “banana juice” for not a lot of payoff. That method was scratched immediately.
The next time, I adapted the recipe by eliminating the whole “reduce the juice” step, reducing the number of banana slices on top, and substituting pecans for walnuts. If you are a banana bread purist, you might want to check out the original recipe. If you just want to get rid of those scraggly looking bananas in your freezer, give this one a go!
- 1¾ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 large ripe bananas
- 8 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8.5 by 4.5 pan with oil (or if you're fancy use cooking spray).
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Mash 4.5 bananas together in a large mixing bowl. If they aren't quite soft enough, microwave them for about a minute. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.
- Fold flour mixture into banana mixture and stir until just barely combined. (There should be one or two flour streaks left.)
- Stir in pecans and/or a few handfuls of chocolate chips, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining half a banana in ¼-inch-thick rounds. Place the banana slices along each slice of the loaf, but leaving the center clear. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
- Bake for about 60 to 75 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the loaf comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool in the pan (best to set the pan on a wire rack to allow the bottom to cool) for about 15 minutes. Then transfer the loaf directly to the wire rack and allow to continue to cool. The bread can be served warm or at room temperature, but it will stay moister if you allow it to cool completely before cutting.