Jul 13, 2010

ATK’s Banana Bread

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Do the internets need another banana bread recipe? Probably not. But are we the sort of friends where I can’t help but tell you about a new one I tried and had to smack the counter, because hot damn, it’s some seriously good banana bread? Definitely.


Before I get into the whats and wheres of the banana bread of which I speak, I think we should talk about a few things. First, what’s your very favorite banana bread recipe, and from where and who did it come? What’s in it–nuts, no nuts, chocolate chips or various whimsy? Is it so moist it’s almost cake-like, or a bit drier, the kind that begs to be toasted and spread with butter? Do share, my friends.


Because for me, my so-quintessential-I-need-to-capitalize-it Banana Bread is a super moist, dense loaf, free of nuts and other frippery, and a recipe of Mrs. Patsy LaMonica, a dear old family friend who laughs loud, loves big and calls you “girlfriend” within ten minutes of meeting you. She, and her amazing Banana Bread, are really something. I should tell you about that specific recipe some time. But for now, I’m telling you about a banana bread recipe that is seriously a close second, tastes freakishly close to my favorite Banana Bread (although, psst, it’s even simpler to throw together), and the only reason that it’s not in first place is because it doesn’t involve Patsy.


But it does involve the America’s Test Kitchen geniuses, who I’ve dreamily droned on about again and again on this site. These people are always so right on, it kind of makes me tear up a little. And their wacky ways of arriving at perfection never cease to amaze, or at the very least amuse. Even with the simplest, most classic recipes, the ATKers find a way to have you using a technique or ingredient that makes you look over you shoulder to see if anyone’s watching you because it all just seems so crazy. But in this case, their usual bending-over-backwards feats of fancy give way to a pretty straightforward, easy recipe, the only commandments being to mash the bananas by hand to avoid a puree, and using very speckled (nearly black) bananas. There’s also a good dose of plain yogurt to add tang and moisture.


And to me, the lack of fussiness here is a good thing, because the beauty of banana bread, whatever the recipe, is that it’s such a perfectly homey, familiar thing. Anytime is the right time for banana bread, but I tend to think that God invented it on the same day he created soup and rainy Sundays, because it’s seriously the best at those sort of moments. That’s deep, people.

America’s Test Kitchen Banana Bread
Adapted from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook

If you’re a walnuts-in-banana-bread sort of person, add about 1 1/4 cups, toasted and chopped, to the batter.

Makes 1 8-inch loaf

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Adjust a rack to the lower middle position of the oven and preheat it to350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, yogurt, eggs, melted butter and vanilla, blending well.

Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry, just to blend–do not overmix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 50-60 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out and let cool completely on a wire rack.

  • How did you know I was just staring at the bananas crowding my freezer?? And thinking I was bored with my usual banana bread recipe? Your timing is impeccable!!

  • Chocolate and Toast–Hooray! I too can often be found with a troubling amount of blackened bananas in my freezer. Give this one a try and report back!

  • Have you seen the latest Cook's Illustrated issue? Those wacky folks have created a new banana bread recipe with six whole bananas! Haven't tried it myself yet, but it looks pretty tempting.

  • Mary–I did see that, just the other day! They blow my mind, I tell you.

  • I recently tried a coffee chocolate chip banana bread recipe I saw over on Baking Bites. Something about it just called to me, even though I'm not a coffee drinker and am not too keen on the flavor. If you are ever looking for a change of pace, this recipe is it!

  • I tried that new Cook's Illustrated recipe for banana bread with 6 bananas, and it was AWESOME! I think it will replace my Joy of Cooking recipe as my go-to banana bread recipe. Next time, however, I would only use 5 bananas and skip the slices shingled on the top. My 4-year-old thought the top was yuck.

    -Michelle

  • Looks good and moist.

  • I agree, America's Test Kitchen is always so spot on it's disgusting. It should seriously be illegal for anyone to be right that often. Except for me, of course.

    Also, I hate to admit it, but since we ARE friends, I will say that my favorite banana bread is the kind that (gasp) comes from a mix. There, I said it. And if I am now destined for Culinary Hell, it is your fault for forcing the confession from me.

    Anyways, your bread looks like it could possibly push my mix bread from first place. Beautiful!

  • I LOVE America's Test Kitchen and I think I am going to ask for a subscription to Cooks Illustrated for Christmas this year… :)

    My favorite banana bread recipe, since you asked, is the one I found here: http://foyupdate.blogspot.com/2010/01/best-ever-banana-bread-recipe.html I just don't use the nuts, and usually throw in a handful of blueberries instead – banana blueberry bread – YUM.

    But I can 100% guarantee you that I will be making this ATK one today, and we shall see if I then have a new favorite!

  • I love these other recipe suggestions, guys! Will look into them.

    Kristan–What is this alleged mix of which you speak?

  • I love ATK too! Even though they have a million extra steps, their recipes always turn out. This looks really good!

  • Okay, so I made this yesterday and my 4 year old and I did a side-by-side banana bread tasting for breakfast this morning. Unfortunately, she deemed it a tie. :) This is a fantastic recipe, and I will absolutely be making it again.

  • The recipe stays it makes an 8 inch loaf, but you are buttering a 9 inch pan. Which size is correct? Thanks!

  • LinC–I wondered the same thing, as this is what the original recipe states too. But in the end, I decided that they were saying that the bread is made in a 9-inch pan, but after baking shrinks up a bit to be an 8-inch finished loaf. *shrug*

  • Can't wait to try this…love the Greek Yogurt :)
    The only banana bread recipe I have ever used is the one in the BH&G red and white checked book…prolly cause that's what my gramma and mom used to make.

  • I am in love with this recipe from ATK–it's actually he only thing I like bananas in. Mmmm!

  • My favorite banana bread is Mollie Katzen's, from her very first cookbook published in the 70's. It's unusual and wonderful; it has almond extract, grated orange rind and nutmeg, and you soak the mushed carrots in cold strong coffee before adding them. It uses honey as well as brown sugar, and it's truly yummy!

  • I'm eating a slice (still warm from the oven) as I type! I love it! My 3 bananas only came to slightly over 1 cup, but it didn't seem to effect the outcome at all. For breakfast this bread stands alone, but for an after lunch or dinner treat it's amazing with cream cheese frosting! :D

  • Oh yeah, I also forgot to mention that I didn't have any plain yogurt, so I had to use vanilla. Yum!

  • Up until now (until I try THIS recipe!), this has been my favorite banana nut bread recipe: http://www.katieleehome.com/nutty-banana-bread/ Don't know why I have the need to justify my liking of Katie Lee and her recipes, but if you're interested: http://torriesessions.blogspot.com/2010/06/another-perfect-saladand-katie-lee.html
    [Not trying to 'spam' your blog; just thought I'd share:)]

  • Wow, this is an amazing recipe. The bread just came out of the oven and it smells amazing!

  • Great recipe! I substituted yoplait's low-fat banana cream pie yogurt for the plain, to give it that extra banana-y kick, and it came out great! I'm not usually good at baking, either (my last attempt at banana bread came out tasting like a block of baking soda – yuck!) but this was super simple and smells and tastes perfect!

  • Oh, this is something that I really want to try. I am now excited with this one.

  • Is there something that I can substitute in lieu of the yogurt, as I don't have any at home?

  • I suggest using sour cream if you don't have any yogurt.

  • I tried this recipe too and it was great! I used 1 cup white and 1 cup whole wheat flour and it's delish.

  • I totally love this banana bread recipe!:) Its currently my favorite! and my now to-go-to recipe:). Right now I am looking forward to more left over bananas! Thank you Shauna:)

    • Hooray! We can be banana bread recipe twinsies. This one is still my fave too.

  • Just made these and couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it!….Yummaaayy!!…Added chopped pecans; used vanilla yogurt. I didn’t have a loaf pan so it went into a square cake pan. Turned out great – crumbly and truly soft. More a moist cake then a bread to me. Thanks!

  • Their recipe (ATK’s) says to use 6 FROZEN bananas, to separate the juice & add it back as part of the liquid. I’ve been doing it that way since finding it in their 1001 Best Recipes! SO good!!! This time I forgot my book at my house in my previous country (I’m a vagabond at present) and was distraught until I found your post >,< THANK YOU!!!

    I presently have a freezer-ful of baggies containing frozen 'naner pieces AND cranberries .. Yep, I'm gonna be desecratin' tradition and adding them to some loaves in a few to see what happens. My son made a loaf with cranberries and failed to save me a slice, the bum. So, after making about a doz and a half of peanut butter cookies (my recipe calls for pb, brn sugar & egg whites ONLY) with said cranberries and coming close to eating more than my usual 2, I decided my idea of banana bread w/ crans might not be such a bad idea.

    Wish me luck! And thanks again for the printing of this recipe. How I wish I could've packed that book in my luggage!!

  • Forgot to mention that I add, instead of vanilla, almond extract. I think it enhances the flavor of the bananas MUCH more than the vanilla. Just me, maybe, but I did it several times and my family thought the loaves w/ the almond extract tasted better. Along w/ some butter flavoring, which added some oomph .. ;D

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