Banana bread is one of my favorite treats and after trying a handful of recipes, I have finally found a keeper!  I made a half batch of this recipe (because I only had 3 bananas on hand) and I was quite pleased with the results.  I’m convinced that no matter what the recipe or how spectacular the pan is, all breads end up a little bit dry on the bottom and a touch too soft at the top.  Halving the recipe** solved this problem!

I don’t have any pictures to share because a half loaf of bread isn’t the best looking thing I’ve ever baked, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in deliciousness!!  Try it out for yourself!

Ingredients:

1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
6 large very ripe bananas, peeled
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Directions:

Place 5 of the bananas in a microwave-safe bowl covered with plastic wrap.   Cut several steam vents in the plastic.  Microwave on high for about 5 minutes or until the bananas are soft and have released liquid.  Transfer the bananas to a strainer placed over a medium sauce pan and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, you can position an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour an 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

When the bananas are finished draining, remove the strainer and turn the stove top to medium high, allowing the liquids to reduce to about 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes).  Remove the pan from the heat, stir the reduced liquid into the bananas, and mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in the melted butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Slice the remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices and lay them, overlapping, on either side of the pan.  There should be a 1-2 inch wide space down the center to ensure an even rise. Sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

Bake for 55-75 minutes, use the toothpick test to determine doneness.  Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and continue to cool on a wire rack. 

**As a general rule, if you halve all the ingredients in the recipe, you can usually halve all of the cook times as well.  I microwaved the banana mixture for 2.5 minutes, reduced the liquid for about 6 minutes, and baked the bread for 30 minutes and it turned out perfectly! 

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