Kitchen Tips & Tricks: How to Ripen Bananas for Baked Goods in 20 minutes.

Have you ever wanted to make a banana bread, maybe banana muffins, or some other recipe where ripe bananas were required, but the bananas staring back at you from the counter are underripe? And you know it will take daysssss for them to ripen on their own, but you are just wanting/needing to make that recipe TODAY?

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Yeah, me too. It’s quite a predicament to be in. Especially if you are baking for an event. (Or just because you love your family and you know they would appreciate some banana chocolate fudge muffins on a Saturday morning).

So, I turned to my dear friend Google to find a solution, but unfortunately none of them brought about immediate results.

“Put them in a brown paper bag,” they said.

“They’ll ripen quickly,” they said.

And the truth is they’ll ripen faster; as in, maybe you’ll have ripe bananas in 3 days instead of 4.

But sometimes, that’s just. not. fast. enough.

So, here I am, to let you know you CAN have ripe bananas in 20 minutes. The method is surprisingly simple, but effective. All you have to do is lay the bananas on a baking pan like the picture above. Stick ’em in the oven at 325F for 20 minutes.

That’s it.

Are you shocked? I was.

You’ll know they’re ready when they look like this:

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They’ll be suuuuper dark on the outside, but on the inside they’ll be perfectly soft and ready to be mashed and transformed into your baked good of choice. Speaking of which, here are some of my favorites.

Super easy, right? Too-good-to-be-true-(but it is)-kind-of-easy, really.

If your bananas aren’t quite as underripe as the ones I had, you may only need to bake them for 10-15 minutes, depending, Just make sure the peel turns completely black before you take them out.

Happy baking! Let me know what you make!

How to Ripen Bananas for Baked Goods in 20 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • Underripe bananas

1). Pre-heat the oven to 325F.

2). Lay the bananas on a baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes. Let them cool for about 5 minutes before peeling.

Thanks to America’s Test Kitchen for this amazing kitchen trick!

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

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Banana bread has always been my baking nemesis. For whatever reason, I have never been able to bake banana bread successfully. Banana muffins, yes, but not banana bread. Each time my banana bread would turn out under cooked in the middle and burned on top. It still tasted delicious but the texture was completely wrong. What was it about banana bread that was so difficult to master? Why could I make seemingly much more difficult recipes with ease (like homemade pie crusts, for example), but not this particular baked good? After several failed attempts, I decided to write off ever making banana bread. It was the one thing I couldn’t make. Audrey: 0, Banana bread: 1.

I was perfectly content not ever being able to make banana bread until a couple weeks ago. It was a Saturday morning and I had several ripe bananas staring at me, desperately needing to be used. Those bananas, couple with an intriguing find on Pinterest, convinced me to give it one more try. I hoped that I would not end up wasting precious ingredients, but came to terms with the fact that it might happen. I got out my mixing bowls and got to mashing those bananas.

I had a slight panic attack when, after the suggested 45 minutes of baking, the toothpick I used to test the bread did not come out clean. I was certain this would be another one of those recipes to add to my failed banana bread attempts. I checked it after 5 more minutes. Still not done. Finally, 5 minutes later, the toothpick test was successful and I took the golden banana bread out of the oven. It looked amazing, and I had high hopes that it would taste equally good.

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I am so happy to report that it turned out AMAZING. It was perfectly cooked through, not too dense, and full of flavor due to the cinnamon swirl in the middle and the glaze on top. The glaze is certainly not necessary, but it is a wonderful addition! In truth, it makes this recipe fall somewhere in between banana bread and banana cake. Regardless, it’s worth the time and effort!

Now I just might start experimenting with other banana bread recipes!

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

Ingredients:

For the Bread:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, not packed
  • 4 Tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, soften to room temp
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about three bananas)
  • 1/3 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I used vanilla Greek yogurt), or 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Cinnamon Swirl:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbs heavy cream or half-and-half or milk

Directions

1). Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.  Set aside.  In a separate large bowl, use a stand or hand mixer to beat the brown sugar and butter.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Using a spoon or spatula, stir in the mashed bananas, yogurt/buttermilk, and vanilla extract.  Then slowly mix in the dry ingredients with the mix, but be sure to not over mix.

2). Pour half the batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan (will need to adjust cooking time if using a different size).  Mix the cinnamon swirl ingredients together and then pour over the batter in the loaf pan.  Top with the remaining batter.

3). Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes (or for my oven, 55 minutes!) or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let it cool for about ten minutes in the pan on a wire cooling rack, then remove the bread from the pan to let it finish cooling just on the rack.

4). While the bread is cooling, mix the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl.  Add more powdered sugar to reach your desired thickness.  Finally, drizzle the glaze over the bread before enjoying.

Servings: 9 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 251 Carbs: 41g Fat: 7g Protein: 6g Sugar: 11g Fiber: 4g

WW PointsPlus: 6

Recipe adapted from: http://mckinneyliving.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/cinnamon-swirl-banana-bread/ 

Skinny Blueberry Banana Muffins

IMG_20130525_102801Schools are out and summer is officially here! One of my favorite aspects of summer is all the fresh produce in the grocery store/farmer’s markets, including blueberries! Fresh blueberries are they key to making these muffins great (but frozen blueberries work too…they’re just not as tasty!). Did I mention I can get my husband to eat any fruit if I put it in muffin form? It’s true. Blueberries and bananas would never be tasted, unless baked in muffin or bread form. I used only white whole wheat flour in the batter to add nutrients and give these muffins staying power. They are surprisingly filling!! Each one is around 111 calories and can definitely tie you over until lunch, or be a sweet afternoon snack. I personally enjoyed them on our screen porch with a cup of coffee. Lovely!

IMG_20130525_102627I usually use applesauce as a substitute for oil or butter, but these muffins called for yogurt. Greek yogurt or regular yogurt both work perfectly. Substituting yogurt is a great trick to keep in mind for future baking! It keeps baked goods moist and adds protein without adding fat.

The next time you buy blueberries at the store, save some to make these muffins. They are fantastic!

Skinny Blueberry Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed (or dark brown sugar)
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 2 large very ripe bananas)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt (or any yogurt)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup skim milk (almond milk, soy milk, rice milk)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1). Preheat oven to 325F. Line muffin tins with foil liners or spray pan with cooking spray (paper liners will stick!).

2). In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together. Set aside.

3). In a medium bowl, mash the bananas until no longer lumpy. Add honey and mix. Add yogurt, egg, vanilla exctract, and brown sugar. Mix until well combined.

4). Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently fold them all together (it will be very thick!). Slowly add the milk while mixing the batter to thin it out some. Gently fold in the blueberries. Be careful not to overmix the batter.

5). Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full and bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Oven times will vary so keep an eye on them! Transfer them to a wire rack and allow muffins to cool before serving.

Servings: 16.

Nutritional Information per Muffin: Calories: 111 Carbs: 25g Fat: 1g Protein: 3g Sugar: 14g Fiber: 2g

WW PointsPlus: 3 Old Points: 2

Recipe adapted from: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/03/17/skinny-banana-blueberry-muffins/