Happy December! What a year it has been! Over the past year, I’ve been perfecting how to make a humongous loaf of banana bread using a Pullman loaf pan. I’ve probably made one of these once every other month for the past year. I bring them in to work. I have a lot of coworkers.
For those unfamiliar with a Pullman loaf pan, it’s a pan that comes with a steel cover that you place right before baking to prevent the dough from rising, so each loaf you make in it comes out perfectly rectangular in shape with perfect 4-inch square slices, usually for sandwich bread.
I don’t use the Pullman pan cover though, because I like my banana bread to have an oven rise. It’s a pretty basic recipe, but there are a few tips on how to ensure it’s not gloopy in the middle, which sometimes happens with banana bread, especially when bananas that aren’t overripe are used. The prebaking tip to make them overripe and ready for banana bread making is one tip.
In the event that the bananas have not had sufficient time to get overripe for use in banana bread, I’ll sometimes put them in the oven on a sheet pan lined with foil, slightly baked at 290 degrees F. for about 45 minutes, or just until the skin turns black. This tip is not from me, but from various sources, like America’s Test Kitchen, plus others.
Sometimes there will be a lot of liquid that comes out of the bananas if they weren’t very ripe beforehand, which is why I’ll line the baking sheet with foil or else make sure the baking sheet is very clean. I’ll drain this liquid into a saucepan and let it boil to reduce and concentrate to a thick syrup, then place it back with the mashed bananas. I find that this really intensifies the banana flavor.
The recipe I use is based on Dominique Ansel’s recipe for banana bread, Dominique Ansel is the pastry chef who invented the cronut. I did not do much to the recipe, other than to brown the butter, plus to add a few small side note ingredients that I really feel complement and accentuate the banana flavor without overpowering it.
Big Beautiful Banana Bread (based on Dominique Ansel’s banana bread)
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 large eggs
8 overripe bananas, mashed
3 Tablespoons dark rum
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
10 ounces (20 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, browned and still warm
1 Tablespoon water
Spray sides and bottom of a Pullman pan with baking spray and line the pan with parchment paper so that it overhangs on two opposite sides for easy removal. Set aside.
If bananas are not ripe or need to be ripened more, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (or use a very clean baking sheet) and bake in an oven set to 290 degrees F. for about 45 minutes. The banana peels will turn black. After cooled down so that it’s not too hot to peel the bananas, peel the bananas and mash them together in a bowl. If there was excessive liquid from the baked bananas, collect it from the aluminum foil and place it in a small saucepan to reduce the liquid to about half before adding it back to the mashed bananas. Set aside.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Brown the butter over medium heat. Here’s a handy guide if you’ve not done this before. After removing the brown butter to a small bowl, place 1 Tablespoon of water into the pan to use as a way to scrape and remove all the brown butter bits that may have stuck to the saucepan. After scraping the sides and bottom of the pan, add the water with all the brown butter bits back to the bowl with the brown butter and set aside until use.
Sift the flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon together into a large bowl and stir with a whisk to ensure dry ingredients are all well integrated together.
Add eggs, rum, and vanilla extract to the bananas, mixing or beating well, then add the banana/egg mixture to the flour mixture, until all the dry ingredients are moistened.
Finally, add the brown butter mixture by folding it into the batter several times with a spatula until incorporated well. Do not overmix, but stir just enough so that the butter is mixed in well and no pools of butter remain.
Pour batter into prepared Pullman loaf pan, leveling the top with the back of a spoon.
Bake on the center rack of a 350 degrees F. oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes until top is not liquid and a toothpick stuck in the center of the loaf comes out dry. Let the loaf sit for about 30 minutes before slicing and serving. It’s great toasted with butter, or if you have leftovers, you can make French toast out of it.