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Ultimate Banana Bread

Ultimate Banana Bread

When I stumbled upon this America’s Test Kitchen recipe, I was immediately interested in making it. The recipe was different from any other banana bread recipe I’ve seen. I loved the idea of using 5 bananas for a strong banana flavor and I was also curious about the way they went about getting extra flavor without the bread becoming a big mess. They cooked the bananas in the microwave for a few minutes, then strained the bananas, then reduced the liquid by half to get an intense banana flavor. My kids were loving the smell while this ultimate banana bread baked in the oven. It turned out super moist and delicious with a ton of banana flavor. My kids LOVED it and I did too. My favorite part is the crisp crust from the turbinado sugar on top of the bread – YUM!

Ultimate Banana Bread

How to Make Ultimate Banana Bread

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8 x 4 loaf pan with coconut oil cooking spray (or regular).

Peel 5 bananas and place them in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap then cut a few slits for air vents.

Ultimate Banana Bread

Place into the microwave and cook for 4-5 minutes on high. Remove from the microwave and pour into a strainer that’s placed over a bowl. Let the banana liquid drain into the bowl, stirring the bananas occasionally, for 15 minutes. You should have about 1/2 cup of liquid.

Ultimate Banana Bread

Transfer the banana liquid into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil the liquid, stirring often, until reduced by half (about 1/4 cup).

Transfer the cooked/mashed bananas into a large mixing bowl. Pour the reduced banana liquid over the mashed/cooked banana, stir until fairly smooth. Whisk in the brown sugar, two eggs, and the cooled melted butter and vanilla extract.

Whisk together in a small bowl, the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture to the banana mixture until just combined. Add the toasted pecans and combine. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the top of the batter evenly with turbinado sugar.

Ultimate Banana Bread

Place into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool bread in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve and enjoy.

Ultimate Banana Bread

Ultimate Banana Bread

Ultimate Banana Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Course: Breads and Muffins
Servings: 1 loaf
Author: Adapted recipe by Pam - For the Love of Cooking / Original by America's Test Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 5 large very ripe bananas peeled
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs beaten until well combined
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup pecans toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp turbinado sugar sprinkled on top of batter before baking

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8 x 4 loaf pan with coconut oil cooking spray (or regular).
  • Peel 5 bananas and place them in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap then cut a few slits for air vents.
  • Place into the microwave and cook for 4-5 minutes on high.
  • Remove from the microwave and pour into a strainer that's placed over a bowl. Let the banana liquid drain into the bowl, stirring the bananas occasionally, for 15 minutes. You should have about 1/2 cup of liquid.
  • Transfer the banana liquid into a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Boil the liquid, stirring often, until reduced by half (about 1/4 cup).
  • Transfer the cooked/mashed bananas into a large mixing bowl.
  • Pour the reduced banana liquid over the mashed/cooked banana, stir until fairly smooth.
  • Whisk in the brown sugar, two eggs, and the cooled melted butter and vanilla extract.
  • Whisk together in a small bowl, the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon until well combined.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the banana mixture until just combined.
  • Add the toasted pecans and combine.
  • Pour into the prepared loaf pan.
  • Sprinkle the top of the batter evenly with turbinado sugar.
  • Place into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and cool bread in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve and enjoy.
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Recipe Rating




38 Comments

  1. TM Martin says:

    The recipe omitted the cinnamon in the ingredients, then omitted the addition of the brown sugar in the directions.

    I only noticed the mistake after I`d poured the batter into the pan: I had to pour it back out, add the brown sugar and prepare the pan again, before I could put it in the over.

    1. TM Martin,

      So sorry about that! The brown sugar goes in during step number nine – I have corrected the recipe. The cinnamon is actually written in the recipe… It’s to be added in step 10.

      Hope you loved it as much as we did.

      ~Pam

  2. I’m always a little afraid of any recipe that’s called ULTIMATE. But, ATK is always a trustworthy source. Definitely going to have to give this one a try!

  3. Cheryl Newton says:

    Hi, Pam,
    How much cinnamon?
    Thanks!

    1. Cheryl,

      Oops! Sorry! I’ve corrected the recipe. 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Thanks for letting me know.

      ~Pam

  4. Ogi the Yogi says:

    What can I do if I don’t have a microwave?

    1. Ogi,

      Try cooking the bananas in a double boiler (pot (or bowl) inside another pot of water over medium low heat). It will take longer but it should work. Let me know!

      ~Pam

  5. jennifer nelson says:

    5 stars
    Seriously, best banana bread ever! The quantity was more than what fit in an 8×4 pan. So we also made 12 mini muffins. All of it gone is less than 4 hours!

  6. 5 stars
    used a muffin pan, cooked in ~25 minutes. very good.

  7. 5 stars
    Tried to other recipes beforehand, which didnt require as much time to make but weren’t very good. This recipe takes a little longer to make (microwaving bananas and reducing banana juice), but IT IS SO WORTH IT!!
    I use 2tbsp maple syrup instead of brown sugar ans make in muffin cups for 30 min. My two LOs love it.

  8. SilverColibri says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Made it without the banana reducing fuss! 😉 and it turned out perfect! My family lived it!
    Love from Sweden ❤️

    1. I’m so glad you all liked it!

      -Pam

    2. I am so glad you liked it!

      -Pam

  9. Mary Heidt says:

    I am going to make this recipe today but all I have are frozen bananas. Do I put them in the microwave frozen then drain?
    Thanks,
    Chrismar

    1. For best results, I would put them in a strainer over a bowl until they are thawed, then proceed with the recipe.

      -Pam

  10. Alice Elliot says:

    I didn’t even have the energy to read the recipe and instructions!! Whew! I’ll stick to the 3-4 recipes I already love.

  11. 5 stars
    I made this for the third time today. It is a great recipe. I did split it into two loaves this time do the top didnt burn whole trying to get the center baked through. My family likes walnuts, so I use those instead of the pecans.

    1. Patty,

      Thanks for taking the time to let me know. I am so glad your family likes it.

      -Pam

  12. 4 stars
    A great recipe, but too much sugar. Way too sweet for me. Someone substituted 2 Tbsp of Maple Sugar and that was a better option. Otherwise a great banana bread.

    1. Sandy,

      I have never tried freezing it so I am not sure. Please let me know how it turns out if you try!

      -Pam

    2. Yes, been making this version for several years and loaves freeze wonderfully.

    3. Shiloh,

      Thanks for letting us know! I’m so glad you like the recipe.

      -Pam

  13. 5 stars
    Made as written, (except used walnuts) tonight to bring to a potluck. Researched several recipes and decided on this one. It did not disappoint. Very good!! Moist, loved the crumbed top, …delicious. Going to buy an extra bundle of bananas just to make again. Worth the time of the banana prep steps. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Jennifer,

      Thanks for letting me know. I’m so glad you liked it!!!

      -Pam

  14. Judi Hoffmann says:

    I just put my loaf in the oven. Smells heavenly…I didn’t have the Turbinado Sugar. Will granulated sugar be ok?

    1. Judi,

      I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I’ve never tried regular sugar on top but I think it might work fine. Let me know how it turned out if you tried it.

      -Pam

  15. Emma Ferguson says:

    5 stars
    Oh my, for an old lady who has had her share of banana nut bread over the years, this recipe is divine. Well worth the few extra steps and dirty dishes. It looks detailed but it goes quickly. What an amazing banana flavor. I do not have turbinado sugar so I sprinkled white sugar on half the load just in case it burned or something. It was delicious. I will definitely make banana nut bread this way in the future.
    Em

    1. Emma,

      I’m so glad you like this banana bread!!! Thank you for letting me know.

      -Pam

  16. 5 stars
    “Goodbye Banana Bread Recipe I’ve been using for 30+ years. You have been replaced!” This ULTIMATE BANANA BREAD will forever and always be my go-to Banana Bread recipe. Please do not be deterred by the extra steps of microwaving & straining the bananas, then reducing the banana juice. These steps go quickly & absolutely make this recipe! The intensity of banana flavor this step creates is amazingly delicious!

    1. Susan,

      The extra steps are definitely worth it! I’m so happy you love this banana bread. Thank you for letting me know.

      -Pam

  17. Love this recipe! Instead of microwaving bananas, I put the last banana or two that no one wants in a baggie and freeze until I have 5. When I want to bake a loaf, I simply remove them from the freezer. As they thaw, juice is released and can be cooked down to half or syrup consistency. This recipe is so easy and delicious.

    1. Mary,

      Thanks for letting me know you love the recipe. Your tip is a great one!

      -Pam

  18. 3 stars
    You forgot a whole banana in this recipe. You need a 6th banana to slice into shingles and place down both sides of the loaf before adding sugar.

  19. Paula Woodard says:

    Would this recipe work in a breadmaker?

    1. Paula,

      I’ve never tried making it in a bread maker. If you give it a try, please let me know how it turns out.

      -Pam

  20. 2 stars
    Not sure why but the bread end up too dense. It doesn’t really works for me. The taste is fine, but the texture is too dense. Almost clay-like. I tried it twice and both ended up the same.