No, you did not misread that title. This is truly the best banana bread I've ever had the pleasure of baking and eating. I do love my Oreos, but after they inspired some kick-ass cookies and cupcakes, I was suddenly craving some serious warm, cozy, wholesome flavors that can only be administered by a well-baked banana bread.
But what recipe would ensure a satisfied craving? I began roaming through recipes, searching Pinterest and FoodGawker until I almost lost hope. Why does nearly every recipe I find have to be "Banana + other flavor I don't want detracting from my Banana Bread Bread"? Banana Coconut Bread, Banana Walnut Bread, I just want Banana Bread. Much like my feeling to carrot cake, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to this. Absolutely no nuts may permeate my bread, and I must really be in the mood for chocolate chips. No, when I bite into a piece of banana bread, I want pure, unadulterated banana flavor. No extracts or extras.
But then, on what I want to say was page eleven or twelve of my search on FoodGawker, I saw it. The Cook's Illustrated Recipe for Banana Bread. The link led me to "First Look then Cook" and wouldn't you know it, the method for preparing this bread sounded eerily similar to the preparation of a certain Banana Bread Snickerdoodle I attempted awhile back. My conclusion?
A side note though. After these photos, I've come to the realization that banana bread batter, unlike chocolate chip cookie dough or a fluffy vanilla frosting, does not look appetizing. At all. I could tell you what I think it looks like but, well, I'll leave that to your wonderful imagination.
Ah, that's better.
Do I dare tell you that I ate at least half of this loaf on my own, probably to the slight frustration of the rest of my family, also avid banana bread lovers? Do I tell you it is absolutely divine with a nice cup of hot coffee first thing in the morning? But I bet you already knew all of that...So bake, eat, enjoy; revel in the delicious flavor of this banana bread and share it (or not!) with all your friends. You'll be glad you did!
Cook's Illustrated Banana Bread
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
4-5 large, peeled, very ripe bananas
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease one 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with cooking spay.
2. Place bananas in microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave for 2-5 minutes, until the bananas give off about 1/3 cup liquid. Transfer bananas to fine-meshed strainer over a small saucepan. Let drain for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl and set aside.
4. Once bananas have drained, place bananas into large bowl and set the saucepan with the banana liquid over medium-high heat, allowing to reduce to about 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes).
5. Pour banana liquid over bananas and mash together until you reach a relatively uniform consistency. Whisk in eggs, butter, brown sugar, and vanilla.
6. Fold flour mixture into banana mixture, being careful not to over-mix. A few streaks of flour are okay.
7. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, sprinkle 2 tsp of sugar over top, and bake at 350 for 55-75 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
8. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.