Saturday, January 29, 2011

America's Test Kitchen Ultimate Banana Bread

I don’t usually eat breakfast because I am not a big fan of cereal or granola and I’d rather have an extra 15 minutes of sleep. I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (I can see Porgy agreeing to this while rolling his eyes…) but it’s just so cumbersome if you don’t have anything simple to heat up and eat right away.

I’ve made banana breads before and I love them since they smell and taste wonderful and they are perfect for breakfast. This America's Test Kitchen Ultimate Banana Bread recipe calls for 5 large bananas to amplify the banana flavor and reducing the liquid from the bananas so the bread won’t get too soggy. So I lifted Arthur up from my lap, put him on Porgy’s and went to Chinatown to buy some B-A-N-A-N-A-S while the song stuck in my head.

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled (see note)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray 8 1⁄2 by 4 1⁄2-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 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 center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
  • Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Do not use a thawed frozen banana in step 4; it will be too soft to slice. Instead, simply sprinkle the top of the loaf with sugar.
  • The test kitchen’s preferred loaf pan measures 8 1⁄2 by 4 1⁄2 inches; if you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, start checking for doneness five minutes earlier than advised in the recipe.
  • 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.


  1. Oh my! I loovvve banana bread! This looks great... gotta give this a try!

    Great blog; happy I found you!

  2. Thanks for posting this recipe.
    I watched this on ATK show. I could not wait to try it out.I got tired of waiting for my banans to speckle and went to the store and bought speckled banana. I was not impressed by the results. I don't understand a couple of things about this recipe.

    1.Should I use large size bananas? I used 5 large bananas and after the mashing process it looked like a lot of mashed banana. it was hard to stir in the flour.

    2.after mashing the bananas should we wait for it to cool before adding beaten eggs. My mixture was fairly hot and I was afraid of scrambling the eggs. I waited for 30 minutes before mixing in the eggs . In 30 minutes mashed bananas had thickened to a solid mass.

    3.adding the wet to dry was quite a task. the wet mass was quite heavy to mix with the dry ingredient.

    4.The final baked banana bread itself was a dense mass. too sweet.

    5. I would much prefer to use the starbucks banana bread recipe card, which used oil instead of butter, tastes great and even my 7 year old can make the starbucks recipe.
    Please do give us some tips.

  3. I'd been wanting to try this since seeing this episode of America's Test Kitchen - thanks for posting it!

  4. Thank you for sharing. This turned out great!

  5. just made it and it was awesome!

  6. I just made this and can't wait for it to come out of the oven! I love America's test kitchen recipes!

  7. tastes really good

  8. Ever since I tried this recipe, I have not made it any other way. This is by far the BEST banana bread recipe out there!

  9. this is in oven as we speak/type. subbed the butter with coconut oil and omitted the sugar and banana toppings. can't wait, house smells divine!