Chocolate-Chunked Banana Bread

May 3, 2010 § 1 Comment

A few weeks ago I filled my grocery basket with 18 fair trade bananas, on sale at my local supermarket.  Ever since, I’ve been pureeing bananas (hello, banana soft-serve “ice cream”!) around the clock.  But while the “soft-serve” is undeniably addictive and a cinch (blend 1 overly-ripe, frozen banana in a Cuisinart until smooth & top with chocolate!), my obsession these days has been banana bread.  My family and workmate have been extremely obliging, helping me tweak each trial and, at long last, I think we’ve finally nailed a good combination of ingredients.

A few notes about this recipe: Many of my quick breads & muffins use only oil (no butter) to yield a moist bread that has a longer shelf life.  I wanted this bread to be moist, but also firm enough to handle a spread.  I was wary of using only butter because I didn’t want it to be tough and chewy.  So, I dabbled with a new butter/oil experiment: I decided to mix them.  I used half oil, half butter.  I loved the texture and crumb size and was pleased that it maintained its moisture, even after several days on the counter top.

Another note: do be sure to measure the quantity of banana “mush” that you put into the bread.  You don’t want to skimp here.  I’ve experimented with various amounts and want to caution: when I used a mere 1 cup (approximately 3 medium bananas) the results were only so-so.  My workmate determined that there wasn’t enough banana flavor and I thought the bread was denser got stale faster.  Stirring 1.5 cups of banana mush into the mix does the trick.  However, if you only have a scant amount of banana-mush, replace the missing quantity with additional plain, whole-milk yogurt.

To ensure an aesthetically-attractive loaf, nicely cooked through the middle with no burned edges, I suggest taking a peek 45 minutes into the baking time.  If the top looks golden brown, I tent a piece of aluminum foil over the top and curl under the pan edges and continue baking until the knife-test comes out clean (usually just over 1 hour).

One final note: This recipe also makes great muffins.  For one of my trials, I made two different sizes of muffins (small and very small) to give away at work.  If you’d like to do the same, I suggest lowering the oven by 25 degrees (300 degrees on convection; 325 degrees standard oven) and baking between 17-23 minutes, depending on the size of the tin.   The muffins and loaf freeze and thaw perfectly, so don’t hesitate to make in advance and enjoy later in the week.

Ingredients:
1 + 1/2 cup mashed banana (approx. 4 medium-sized)
2 eggs
1/4 cup evaporated cane sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable (or neutral-tasting) oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup plain, whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup dark chocolate, chopped in chunks and slivers

Methods:

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees on convection.  Alternatively, heat oven on standard setting at 350 degrees.  Grease a loaf pan; layer bottom of pan with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper.

2.  In a mixing bowl, combine mashed banana and sugar.  Beat until thoroughly incorporated.  Melt butter (in an oven-proof dish in the heating oven or in the microwave).  Allow it to cool for a few minutes before adding to the liquid batter.  One at a time, add each egg, followed by the yogurt and vanilla.

3.  In a separate bowl mix flours, soda and sea salt.  Chop chocolate into chunks and combine with flour mixture.  (This will prevent the chocolate from falling to the bottom of the loaf.)

4.  Bake in the oven for 60-70 minutes, but take a peek around 45 minutes.  If your oven runs hot, the loaf might be browning too rapidly on top (mine always does).  If so, tent with tin foil and continue baking.  The loaf will be finished when the knife comes out clean. Let the bread rest for about 5 minutes before removing from the pan.   Cool completely on a wire rack.  This loaf stays good on the counter for several days and freezes and thaws wonderfully.

Diet Notes: Nut-free

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