Top Banana Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.
Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several stem vents in plastic with paring knife.
Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. This can bubble over, so keep an eye on it.
Transfer bananas to a strainer placed over medium saucepan and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. You should have about 1/2 cup liquid.
Bring banana liquor to a boil and cook over medium-high heat until reduced by half. Remove from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with a fork until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.
Pour banana mixture into flour mixture 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 into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of the loaf leaving the center space open to ensure even rise. Sprinkle with granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Cool bread 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*Make a point of having a bunch of bananas waiting in the wings. You will be craving this.
Makes one 9-inch loaf
Source: Andrea Geary, Cook's Illustrated