All you need to bake the best banana bread are bananas, butter, sugar, an egg, vanilla extract, baking soda, salt and flour. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

All you need to bake the best banana bread are bananas, butter, sugar, an egg, vanilla extract, baking soda, salt and flour. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Accept no substitutes: This banana bread recipe is the best

It’s got it all: Bold banana flavor, a crunchy caramel-brown crust and a moist and tender loaf.

Google “banana bread” and you’ll get more “best” and “perfect” recipes than you can shake an overripe banana at.

You know what? They’re neither best nor perfect.

Last week, a blogger from The Kitchn baked four famed banana bread recipes — Chrissy Teigen’s, Flour Bakery’s, America’s Test Kitchen’s and Smitten Kitchen’s — and was dismayed to find that none of them was exactly what she was looking for. (Readers voted on their favorites, and these four were at the top.)

For her, the perfect banana bread has a bold banana flavor and a crunchy caramel-brown crust. It should be moist and tender, but still able to hold a firm slice. She wants a bread that holds up to toasting the next morning. As a quick bread, banana bread should also be easy to make and require few dishes.

The blogger didn’t find her perfect banana bread recipe because she didn’t try the one I bake. It checks all of her boxes.

The best banana bread out there has been the most popular recipe on Simply Recipes for at least 10 years. I looked it up online when I couldn’t find my mom’s in my recipe box. I’ve been baking it for nearly as long as it’s been No. 1 on the blog. (Sorry, Mom!)

The recipe is my go-to when I have a bunch of overripe bananas on the kitchen counter. (I tend to overestimate how many bananas I will eat in a week. I know I’m not the only one. It’s easy to do when they’re just 59 cents a pound at Albertsons.)

If you’ve been looking for a new go-to recipe for banana bread, then you gotta try this breakfast loaf.

The founder of Simply Recipes blogged about my favorite banana bread recipe more than 10 years ago. All you need to bake the best banana bread are bananas, butter, sugar, an egg, vanilla extract, baking soda, salt and flour.

It’s been altered over the years to keep its top spot. The original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, but it’s since been cut to ¾ cup. All that means is you get to decide how sweet you want your bread to be. If you want it more sweet, stick with 1 cup. If you want it less sweet, then cut it to ½ cup of sugar.

If you’d like, you can also toss in extras such as raisins, chocolate chips, chopped nuts or shredded coconut. My mom loves to put walnuts in her banana bread; I prefer pecans.

The best bananas for baking banana bread are overripe. That’s where the loaf gets its bold banana flavor. The peels should be at least half browned, and the bananas inside squishy and browning. (Tip: If you have a bunch of browning bananas but you’re not ready to bake banana bread, just pop them in the refrigerator. The peels will turn black in the fridge, but the bananas will be fine.)

This recipe is what The Kitchn blogger calls a one-bowl banana bread. No standing mixer required. All you need to make this bread is a mixing bowl, a fork to beat the egg and a spatula to mix the batter.

I prefer the quick-bread method, which calls for two bowls: Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another, then stir the two together until just combined. (I stop stirring when I don’t see any dry flour lumps.)

I like to bake mine in two mini loaf pans measuring 5¾ by 3 inches instead of the traditional 8-by-4-inch pan. You also can put the batter into muffin tins and make banana bread muffins instead.

I brought two still-warm mini-loaves to The Daily Herald to share with colleagues. They were duly impressed.

“This banana bread was sweet, moist and full of banana flavor,” features reporter Evan Thompson said. “The best part was the crust, which was golden brown and had a crunchy texture. I could’ve eaten it for breakfast or dessert.”

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; sbruestle@heraldnet.com; @sarabruestle.

Banana bread

2 or 3 very ripe bananas, peeled (about 1½ cups mashed)

⅓ cup melted butter

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch salt

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with butter or baking spray.

In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.

Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour last.

Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Then remove the banana bread from the pan and let it cool completely. Slice and serve. (A bread knife helps to make slices that aren’t crumbly.)

— Recipe adapted from www.simplyrecipes.com.

Quick tips

• Use overripe bananas for bold banana flavor in your bread.

• Don’t like it so sweet? Cut back to ½ cup sugar. Like it sweeter? Add 1 cup sugar.

• Mix the ingredients with a spatula until just combined. Overmixing means tougher bread.

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