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In Search Of The Best Banana Bread July 17, 2014

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cooking, Food.
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zaiusIt ought to have been an episode of the old Leonard Nimoy TV show. I think I’ve tried at least a half a dozen variations on banana bread recipes over the years. They’ve ranged from decent to very good, but never to SWOON, which is what I always look for whenever picking whatever will be the version to be put into permanent rotation.

And speaking of Nimoy, I’d like to see this in heavy rotation. Or not.

 Banana Bread Version 1 is the more traditional recipe and prep, and it’s sort of the “baseline” I work with whenever trying a new one.

Dry: Mix 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt (not kosher salt) in a bowl.

Wet: Mash up 3-4 overripe bananas in another bowl. Add 1/4 cup of plain yogurt or sour cream (I like to use greek yogurt), 2 beaten eggs, 6 tbs butter that’s been melted & cooled, and 1 tsp of vanilla.

Fold the wet into the dry until combined.

At this point, you can fold in some chopped walnuts or (my preference) 1 1/4 cups of dark chocolate chips that have been lightly dusted in flour (that keeps ’em from sinking during the baking)

Pour the batter into a lightly greased or buttered 5×9 loaf pan. One hour in a 350 degree oven, test with a toothpick, you know the drill. Then let cool.

Banana Bread Version 2 is a little more complex, but it came out pretty decently. I saw it on America’s Test Kitchen, probably my favorite cooking show out there. I might play around with it a little to increase the sweetness.

Dry: 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda & 1/2 tsp salt (not kosher) in a bowl

Wet:  Prepare the bananas: 4-5 overripe bananas put into a microwave bowl, cover with plastic, poke a few holes in the plastic to allow steam to escape. Microwave for 4-5 minutes. Strain the cooked bananas, stir them around to get all the liquid out & reserve the liquid. Reduce the liquid over a low-medium flame in a saucepan until it’s down to under 1/4 cup, almost syrupy. Add back to the bananas. Mash up with a potato masher.

Then whisk in 8 tbs (a whole stick) of melted/cooled butter, 2 beaten eggs, 1 tsp vanilla and 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar. Mix until combined.

Add wet to dry, fold in until combined.  Fold in walnuts or chocolate, same as the other recipe. Pour into the same greased or buttered loaf pan.

Now, on the Test Kitchen, they sliced up one more banana, shingled the top of the thing (avoiding the center where it rises) and sprinkled 2 tsp of sugar on top. I did not do this and probably will try it next time since it will add more flavor & sweetness. I had thought it would be overkill, but the unshingled version I did do hardly differed from version 1 in taste, only in color due to the brown sugar.  I also thought that adding the white sugar to the mix might increase sweetness and also provide some chewiness by mixing with the brown sugar. We’ll see about that next time. But their trick of microwaving the bananas & reducing the resulting flavor-packed liquid to a near syrup added sweetness and maintained moistness without overdoing the balance (hence dropping the yogurt – you’re basically subbing more banana for it in version 2.)

So the experimentation will go on…. vprice

 

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