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Why This Recipe Works

For the ultimate banana bread, we wanted to pack in as much banana flavor as possible without turning out a mushy loaf. We found we could smash five bananas into a single loaf. The key was eliminating some of their moisture. We microwaved the bananas until they started to break down, then moved them to a fine-mesh strainer to drain. Reducing the released liquid gave us an intense syrup that we could mix into the batter without adding excess water. To ensure the dense batter rose properly, we found we had to add a full tablespoon of baking powder plus baking soda. Xanthan gum ensured that our loaf had enough structure and stability. Stirring the batter for 1 minute before transferring it to the loaf pan ensured that all the ingredients were thoroughly incorporated and that the thick batter was properly aerated. Unlike our muffin recipes, this wetter batter did not need to be rested to hydrate the flour; the extra moisture plus the longer baking time prevented any grittiness.

Ingredients

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9 ½ ounces (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) ATK All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see related content)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
5 large very ripe bananas (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
5 ¼ ounces (3/4 cup packed) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

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Instructions

Makes 1 loaf

The test kitchen’s preferred loaf pan measures 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches; if you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, start checking for doneness 5 minutes early.

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Whisk flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum together in large bowl.

2. Microwave bananas in separate bowl, covered, until they have softened and released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and let drain, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes (you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup liquid).

3. Transfer banana juice to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Return reduced juice to bowl, add bananas, and mash with potato masher until mostly smooth. Whisk in melted butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

4. Using rubber spatula, stir banana mixture into flour mixture until thoroughly combined and no lumps remain, about 1 minute. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan and sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

5. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Let bread cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving. (Banana bread is best eaten on day it is baked, but bread can be cooled, immediately wrapped in plastic wrap, and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. To serve, warm in 300-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.)