Do you think while you’re sleeping? I do not mean the deep sleep without any consciousness, but the early stages. I do, I even solve my problems and apparently I come up with new ideas! Till last week, this happened to me twice. I solved one problem with my program code and one other with an economic model while I was sleeping. I immediately woke up and wrote down the equations while my hubby was looking at me very worried, and to my surprise they worked in the morning. I’m not working in Neutrino experiment at CERN or something but those were as complicated as it gets in my field.
So now, I’m stuck in another project and hopeful of my sleeps. Does not sound very scientific, huh? So far no luck! I’m approaching a deadline and need a miracle. But I cannot say my sleeps were unfruitful recently. Last week I woke up to a genious idea (believe me, really G-E-N-I-O-U-S). Sounds even more stupid when I write it here but I swear!! But I want to discuss it with someone and probably need some IT help, but I’m afraid to open up to someone. I’m afraid that they are going to Mark Zuckerberg me. I will be like Winklevoss twins sobbing after my idea; they will make my movie!
What does all this have to do with banana bread? After that sleep I was also craving for banana bread. Of course, I couldn’t bake it right away because you need very ripe bananas for a delicious banana loaf. Soon enough banana bread was in my stomach, but that genious idea of me is still in my brain, dying to come out!
This is the ultimate banana bread perfected by America’s Test Kitchen. There are numerous recipes for ultimate banana bread, but because they include an overload of bananas for flavor, the bread’s texture is often soggy. This recipe gives moist, not mushy, loaf that tastes of banana through and through.
Their technique includes microwaving ripe bananas for 5 minutes to release juice and then reducing the juice by simmering on heat to get concentrated liquor, which intensifys flavor without making the loaf wet. Typical banana bread contains just three bananas but by this method you can up the number of bananas to 5 without turning the loaf into a pudding.
Ultimate Banana Bread
(Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Makes one 9-inch loaf
Notes: Be sure to use very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas unless you want a bland loaf. 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 8½ by 4½ 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 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1teaspoon 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 (5 1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts , toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1. 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.
2. 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).
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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. [ATK says so but I like this cold directly from the fridge.)
TRIVIA: As bananas ripen, starch converts to sugar. ATK found that heavily speckled bananas had nearly three times the amount of fructose (the sweetest of the sugars in fruit) than less spotty bananas, 5.3% fructose and 1.8 fructose, respectively.