I love bananas. I especially love them when they’re just shy of being ripe, when they’re not too sweet and not too mushy. Of course, I can never eat them fast enough this way and sure enough, they ripen whether I like it or not. All that tinge of green goes away and they start developing brown spots, and then I don’t want to eat them raw any more.
That’s when I start saving them for banana bread.
The problem with a lot of banana breads is that they’re so sweet in that overripe banana sort of way. If I’m going to have them be sweet, I want them sweet on my terms. I’ve experimented with a lot of banana breads with a lot of different ingredients added. Fresh strawberries? No, they make it too runny and weird. Nuts? If you like them in your breads (I tend not to). Lemon? Zesty, but not quite right with the bananas. Dried apricots? Well, now we’re verging on fruitcake, so no thanks.
After a lot of trial and error, and a few rounds with my favorite recipe (from Food Network), I’ve come up with my favorite. It’s not too sweet, not too bitter, yet it’s extremely decadent. On those days when you just can’t be bothered to roll out all the dough for chocolate babka bread, try this.
Here’s the recipe.
1 cup of light brown sugar
3 ripe bananas
1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tsp), softened
1 tbsp milk
2 cups all-purpose flour (I use gluten-free)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp instant ground coffee
1/3 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
Okay, this already looks good. Prepare to create something wonderful.
Preheat oven to 325. Butter a loaf pan, then add the eggs and beat well (the Food Network recipe says to add the eggs one at a time, this seems practical).
Cream the butter and sugar together, set aside.
Mash the bananas with the milk and cinnamon. Never mashed bananas before? A dinner fork works well.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and coffee together.
Add the bananas to the sugar/butter bowl and mix well. Stir in your chocolate chips. I won’t tell if you add a little more.
Add the dry ingredients to the banana-butter-chocolate bowl and mix until the flour is just this side of invisible. The batter will be thick and not too gooey.
Pour or spoon the batter into your loaf pan and cook for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out dry (if you spear a chocolate chip, try again).
Set on a cooling rack for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool for another ten minutes before slicing and dicing and enjoying. If you want to be really fancy, you can sprinkle some confectioner’s sugar on top before slicing.
The recipe also works well without the chocolate chips if, for some reason, you’re not a chocolate person. You can see this is basically the Food Network recipe (saved on my hard drive as “the best banana bread recipe”) with a few substitutions and additions. That’s the beauty of baking: taking something you already like and putting your own spin on it.
Let me know how you like it!