There’s a secret to making an epic banana-chocolate chip bread — and it’s not the one you think.
We all know that using really ripe bananas makes for a sweeter, more banana-y quick bread. But have you tried nuking that fruit?
Every recipe in culinary scientist Jessica Gavin‘s new cookbook, “Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking” (Page Street Publishing, $23), offers tips and techniques to maximize the deliciousness of your food, whether you’re making Grandma’s Italian Meatballs in a slow cooker or hollandaise in a blender. For banana bread, the trick lies in microwaving the bananas first.
Mind blown, right?
Which brings us to Gavin’s chocolate chip banana bread and the microwave. Quick breads, she says, traditionally rely on a couple of tricks. They use a chemical leavening agent, such as baking soda. And the wet and dry ingredients are mixed separately, then gently folded together so the resulting bread is moist, with a coarse tender crumb. And the riper the bananas, the sweeter and more flavorful the bread will be.
“A clever kitchen trick to increase the banana flavor is to cook them in the microwave, and then separate the solids from the liquids,” she writes. “This allows the ability to concentrate and control the amount of moisture added into the bread.”
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf
½ cup unsalted butter
5 very ripe medium-size bananas, peeled
2 large eggs
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Microwave the butter in 30-second intervals until melted, stirring in between, about 1 minute. Cool to room temperature.
- Place the bananas in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until the the bananas are tender, 5 minutes. Transfer the bananas to a strainer set over a bowl. Press the bananas to release the liquid, stirring occasionally and allowing the banana liquid to drain for 15 minutes.
- Collect the banana liquid — it should yield ½ to ¾ cup — and transfer it to a small pan. Over medium-high heat, reduce the liquid to ¼ cup, 5 to 7 minutes.
- In a bowl, mash the cooked bananas and reduced liquid to a puree. You should have about ¾ cup. The puree should be slightly warm, but not hot, when you whisk in the butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture, using a spatula to fold the ingredients until just combined. Fold the batter just enough to hydrate the flour, yet keep gluten formation to a minimum. A few streaks of flour should remain, but do not overmix.
- Grease an 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Place it on a small sheet tray. (If your pan is 9 by 5 inches, check the cooking time at least 5 minutes earlier, as the larger pan will cause the bread to cook more quickly.) Transfer the batter to the pan and bake until golden brown, 55 to 70 minutes. After 30 minutes, loosely cover the banana bread with foil to reduce browning and help create a dome shape. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean with some crumbs attached. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn loaf out onto a wire rack, flip back upright and allow to cool 1 hour before serving.
— Reprinted with permission from Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking by Jessica Gavin, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018