If you’re a Cook’s Illustrated junkie like me, then you’ll likely have at least one of the magazine’s cookbooks. The one that sits on my shelf—and that I thumb through more than any of my other cookbooks by far—is The Best Recipe, which I rely on when I want to make … well … the best version of a bunch of your standard—and not so standard—fare.
The Best Recipe‘s banana bread is solid. Sure I may wander a bit off the recommended line-up, but I pretty much stay true to its spirit and intent. (Mostly, my departures are because I’ve run out of one ingredient or another, or that I just want a little taste of something different.)
Since it’s summertime, and berries are in season, I decided to add blueberries to the banana bread mix. Yay. I also made a couple other alterations as follows:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sugar (I cut back to a little more than 1/2 a cup; the last time I made this, I found the bread a tad too sweet for my liking)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups toasted walnuts, chopped course to make about 1 cup (didn’t have any walnuts, but no matter; I subbed 1 cup blueberries in place of the nuts)
- 3 ripe, soft large bananas, mashed well (I only had 2 big bananas and that worked perfectly well—in fact, I think the more subtle 2-banana flavor made for a better balance against the 1 cup blueberries)
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt (Straus Creamery whole yogurt seems to make the batter that much more luscious and moist)
- 2 large eggs, beaten lightly
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled (I went with 2 tablespoons butter, plus 1/4 cup vegetable oil instead)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
I started by mashing up the uber-ripe bananas in a bowl. Then in another bowl, I whisked together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. I then shifted back to the mashed nanners and mixed in the liquidy yogurt, beaten eggs, melted butter, vanilla and vegetable oil.
This is when I flipped on the oven to 350 degree F. While the oven was heating up, I went back to it, folding the liquid mix into the dry ingredients until almost fully combined. In went the blueberries. Just a few more turns of the rubber spatula, et voila. The batter was ready. Definitely didn’t want to overmix it—otherwise, the gluten in the flour would get all worked up, and I’d have a chewy, dense bread on my hands.
I scraped the thick, lumpy batter into a well-greased pan, then slid it into the oven for a good hour-plus. I think I kept it in there for a full 70 minutes, but I started checking the bread at 50, 60, and then 70 … poking it with a chopstick to see if it came out clean (yes, you can use a wooden skewer or toothpick if you don’t care for the larger hole a chopstick will leave.)