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How can I make my banana nut bread lighter and less dense? I've tried whipping egg whites with some success and adding 1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda and baking powder but I'm still not satisfied. Any other ideas out there? Thanks
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No idea what is right, but lets brainstorm a bit.

Baking powder is a good idea. Try increasing the amount. Perhaps replace the baking soda with more baking powder.

You could try incorporating something light and fluffy. How about marshmallows. Tiny ones might work best.

Or how about popcorn. I'd say crush it but don't powder it.

Another way is to use a thickener. Xanthan has been mentioned. Carboxymethyl cellulose. arrow root. If you thicken water with one of these, the water should occupy space until it goes to steam. You hope the steam leaves bubble spaces.

Now if by "lighter" you mean fewer calories, then you can add in non-digestibles that act as fiber. Ground potato peelings. Tomato skins. Flax seeds. Sawdust (if you clean it up). Clays like bentonite. Ground brick dust (that's the alumino silicate you will find on the label of your salt. It's there to prevent caking. It's calcined kaolin from Georgia. English china clay is another usually used in paper.).

Have fun trying to figure it out. Let us know when you find the right answer.
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Thanks. I'll give the marshmallows a try. By lighter, I didn't mean less fatty but did mean less weight of the loaf, not the body. Will let you know how the next batch comes out.
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Try mixing in cake flour -it has less gluten than reg. APF
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Hard to say without seeing the whole recipe.

The recipe I follow calls for 2 or 3 bananas. I would assume 2 bananas could make it less dense.

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FWIW, I use Cook's Illustrated recipe for the “Ultimate Banana Bread”, me. I don’t eat many bananas but DW wants them. She doesn’t eat them when they get ripe (more than a few brown spots) and I got tired of feeding them to the compost pile. The solution was the “Ultimate Banana Bread” from Cook's Illustrated. The full article is;
”Ultimate Banana Bread from Cook's Illustrated”

I love banana bread. I've made it from a lot of different recipes, and I've created my own recipes as well. So when I got a review copy of The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, the banana bread recipe was on my short list. I wanted to make it immediately, but there was one thing that forced me to wait.


I mean, seriously, when I buy banana to eat, they turn brown as soon as I turn my back on them. And then I bake with them. When I bought bananas specifically to make banana bread, it seemed like it took forever for them to get to that perfect stage of over-ripeness.

Since this was a Cook's Illustrated recipe, I wasn't about to shortchange it by using bananas that weren't up to par. Or maybe down to par, in this case.

I was pleased to see that the recipe used weights for ingredients that can vary when you use volume or "per piece" measurements. It was nice to be able to weigh the flour, brown sugar, and bananas, and know that I had exactly what they asked for.

For fans of Cooks Illustrated, this is the ultimate cookbook. It's got recipes from 20 years worth of the magazine - 2000 recipes in all. I didn't count them - that's what the press kit said. And here's a fun bit of trivia for you - the test kitchen for the magazine spends $523,000 per year on groceries,and there are two full-time staff members who shop for those groceries. That's a lot of food.

Cooks Illustrated Magazine is nothing if not quirky. It's got its own personality. Look at the magazine cover and if you couldn't read the words, you'd still know it's CI. The cookbook follows through. If the cover photo wasn't from one of the magazines, it certainly could have been.

These days, cookbooks tend to have fewer recipes and big full-color photos that make you drool. But this one continues with the CI style of having what looks like pencil drawings for illustrations. It's not a tabletop book that you browse through, it's a workbook.

Over the years, I've cooked a number of recipes from Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. Sometimes I grumble a bit at some of the fussiness of the recipes. But when the food's done, I'm always happy with the results.

Will I throw away all my other cookbooks? Well, no. But this is going to be an interesting one to work with. It'll be a great one to turn to when I'm making - or messing with - classic recipes.

This is a book that had its own fan base as soon as it was published. People who have back issues of the magazine squirreled away will be able to get rid of those and just have one book. One hefty, heavy book. It's a bit of a monster, that's for sure.

And CI fans who don't have all those copies squirreled away will love the idea that they can have the entire collection in one book. Well, okay, it's not every recipe, ever. Some recipes were re-done and re-worked over the years, so this book only has the newest and the best.

But come on, it's 2000 recipes. I think that's enough for anyone.

Speaking of one - you want one, right? Here's the banana bread I promised you.

Ultimate Banana Bread
From the The Cooks Illustrated Cookbook - used with permission
Serves 10

Be sure to use very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas in this recipe. This recipe can be made using five thawed frozen bananas; since they release a lot of liquid naturally, they can bypass the microwaving in step 2 and go directly into the fine mesh strainer. Do not use a thawed frozen banana in step 4; it will be too soft to slice. Instead, simply sprinkle the top of the loaf with sugar.

We developed this recipe using a loaf pan that 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 earlier than advised in the recipe. The texture is best when the loaf is eaten fresh, but it can be stored (let it cool completely first), covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large very ripe bananas (2 1/4 pounds), peeled
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse (optional)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.

Place 5 bananas in separate bowl, cover, and microwave until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes (you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup liquid).

Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until mostly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Pour banana mixture into dry ingredients and stir until just combined, with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of loaf in 2 rows, leaving 11/2-inch wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Let loaf cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving.

Read more:

Naturally, I had to modify the recipe/method slightly to my own use. Since I only get ripe bananas signally or by twos after they were too ripe for DW’s taste, I would let them get very ripe, peel them and then freeze them in a 1.5-pint plastic container until I accumulated 6 or 5 of them in the container and decided to bake. I would let the container & contents come to room temperature and then put the contents into a strainer to drain into a small saucepan for about a half hour while I assembled the rest of the ingredients.

I would melt the butter in the loaf pan in the oven as it was heating, measure out the other ingredients and boil down the banana juice to a syrup. The butter was allowed to cool down to around 100 or 95 degrees before it was smeared on the insides of the loaf pan (why use spray oil on the pan when melted butter works just fine, huuuggh?) and then added to the batter. I had never shingled sliced banana on top of the loaf as described before baking but have routinely sprinkled “Sugar in the Raw” over it prior to baking, it usually takes about an hour and 7 or 10 minutes in my oven to bake @350 degrees. It comes out with a strong taste of banana but is not too dense or “wet” for our taste.

C.J.V. – reminds me to buy more bananas, yes
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I would let them get very ripe, peel them and then freeze them in a 1.5-pint plastic container until I accumulated 6 or 5 of them in the container and decided to bake.

Bananas can be frozen right in their skins. When I have those very ripe, brown bananas that no one will eat (DD and I actually like them green, and DH likes them just yellow), I just throw the whole banana in its skin into a ziplock bag in the freezer. Then I can thaw one or several bananas to make smoothies or banana bread.

I like your recipe, so might give this a try.
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