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My nephew Louis is a keen cook. My sister, at all times, seems to be in possession of brown bananas. Together, Louis and I took it upon ourselves to do something with the surfeit of brown beasts while being tasked by his mom with making a super moist bread. We came up with a recipe that we all loved and that he could easily replicate when I was gone. By the way, to this day, Louis hasn’t told his mom what our secret ingredient is (it’s mayonnaise).
Technique tip: Give the bread a poke in the middle after 45 minutes to see if it feels firm. If it does but doesn’t spring back, give it 5 more minutes. If it’s still loose, continue baking for the recommended time.
Swap option: Swap out sour cream for the Greek yogurt in the recipe, use the same amount of real vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean paste. You can also use another type of weak acid instead of apple cider vinegar, like lemon juice.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a standard 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
To brown the butter, melt in a saucepan over low heat. The butter will bubble and foam first. Once the foam (the milk solids) has browned and migrated to the bottom of the pan, smells nutty and the bubbling has slowed to intermittent pops, remove the butter from the heat, transfer to a heatproof bowl and allow to solidify at room temperature.
For an ultra-smooth and moist banana bread, puree the bananas in a food processor. For a more rustic bread, mash the bananas with a fork until there are no lumps larger than a blueberry. Set aside.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk for 30 seconds to distribute the leavening. Set aside.
Place the brown butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream them together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Scrape the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each egg is completely incorporated. Scrape the bowl again and add the yogurt, mayonnaise and vanilla bean paste. Mix until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Stir the apple cider vinegar into the bananas and then fold into the batter. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the banana bread springs back when poked in the middle.