Banana Chocolate Bread

Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate
We are experts at wasting bananas.  I blame it on the Redhead.  She always says she wants one, takes one or two bites, and then plays with the peel and leaves the rest.  She sometimes takes a bite out of the SIDE of the entire banana, then is done.  I usually cut up the bananas beforehand, but I feel like I’m always a bit of a chump when she asks me for “a big one!” and I give her a whole banana and the situation mentioned above happens every single time.  So, I very often turn left-over bananas into smoothies with a bit of plain yogurt, but by the time I’ve been played twice, I give up offering her bananas, and at least three turn brown before the week is over.

Enter banana bread.  This recipe called for exactly three, old, brown bananas!  I wanted to use up our produce and stuff in the fridge before we left town for Christmas travels because I hate wasting food, and banana bread helped use up those old bananas, my yogurt that was about to go bad, a couple eggs and some milk.  We enjoyed this bread going down the road to Tulsa for snacks and breakfast and it was one of the best banana bread recipes I’ve used.  Obviously, as it came from Cooks Illustrated’s awesome cookbook, The New Best Recipe.  I always feel safe using their recipes.  They had a variation for adding chocolate to their banana bread, and as you may have seen on this blog, I won’t pass up an opportunity to use chocolate in a baked good.

Banana Chocolate Bread

Banana Chocolate Bread
makes one 9″ loaf

2 cups (10 ounces) AP flour, plus more for dusting the pan
10 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped very fine
3 very ripe, large bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5″ loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out excess.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and chocolate together in a large bowl; set aside.

Mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla with a whisk in a medium bowl.  Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky.  Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about an hour.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.  Bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temp for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Banana Bread

Literal Banana Bread

Banana Oat Bread
We always have bananas around here.  I realize my last post was about bananas and I apologize for the redundancy.  They are the most logical, good-in-a-pinch snack or breakfast for a little one.  I cut them up and put them in oatmeal most mornings, so one day when I had a lot of ripe ones and it was cloudy out, I thought that I’d do a literal banana bread and mix banana into the dough and add a lot of oatmeal to kinda make a bread version of my daily breakfast.  I really loved how rustic it turned out.  It was really great warmed with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon – as most things are.  I always think of how I could improve something the second it comes out of the oven.  With this, I think thick slices dipped in batter and turned into banana French toast would be amazing.

Banana Oat Loaf

Banana Oat Bread*
makes two loaves

3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 oz yeast
1/2 stick butter, softened
generous 1 1/4 cups water
2 large bananas, chopped
1 bowl of oatmeal, muesli or granola

Put the flour, salt, yeast and butter into a bowl.  Slowly add water to the bowl and mix carefully by hand until the dough becomes elastic.  Knead the dough for 5 minutes, then cover the bowl and set aside to rest for two hours.

Divide the dough into two, then add a chopped banana to each, using your hands to mash the banana into the mixture.  This makes the dough crazy sticky, so add enough oatmeal to each to regain the original texture.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat.  Roll each dough into a ball, then press into the bowl of oats, so that the dough becomes completely coated.  Place the loaves on a baking sheet and let rise for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Using a knife, deeply score the top of each ball into 8 sections.  Bake the loaves for 25-30 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*adapted from the amazing book, 100 Great Breads by Paul Hollywood.