Sun 9 Aug 2009
Without fail, the purchase of a bunch of bananas implies that one of the bunch will end up entombed in my freezer. It’s always the same story. We buy bananas, intend to eat at least one a day and by the third or fourth day, we burn out. The banana that was lemony yellow and unblemished on Sunday becomes a brown-flecked tube of sickly sweetness on Thursday. That lonely, time-tattooed, orphan banana in the bowl always rides to the freezer on a sea of good intentions – I’m not wasting it, I’m preparing for banana bread! The fact that I found a brown, frozen banana in each of four layers of my freezer’s sedimentary melee of forgotten foodstuffs is evidence that it has been a while since my good intentions did anything other than pave paths. I’ve been so energized by yeast breads for the past several months that I’ve treated quick breads with shameful neglect. It’s probably good that we don’t buy bananas very often.
As the name implies (and as discussed in the recent contest entries), they are quite quick. More of a batter than a dough, they are typically mixed, poured, and baked. The baking can last for upwards of an hour, since the batter tends to be quite wet, but that’s the most time-consuming part of the process. Getting yourself to the oven stage of a quick bread is, generally, a dump-mix-pour program. In that sense, it’s a lot like a cake.
This recipe doesn’t produce the tallest loaf in the world. As you can see from the pictures, it’s rather compact. It is not, however, dense. The chocolate and chocolate chips add a sweetness and richness that make the shorter slices seem appropriate.
I’ve jazzed up the bananas here by simmering them with a bit of rum. This is optional. If you find yourself with a pile of ready bananas and no rum, don’t worry. The recipe will still work. If you are worried about the alcohol content of the finished bread, fear not. The alcohol will completely cook off between the simmering and the baking. Whether or not you simmer the bananas, be sure they are very well mashed. If you leave big globs of banana in the batter, you’ll end up with boggy wet spots in the bread.
Chocolate Banana Bread
Adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess
4 small very ripe bananas, mashed
¼ cup dark rum
1 cup flour, plus a few tablespoons for the pan
2T cocoa powder
2t baking powder
½ t baking soda
½ t table salt
½ cup butter, melted
½ c sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 c chocolate chips (optional)
Butter for greasing the pan
- Simmer bananas and rum
- Cool bananas and rum at least 30 minutes
- Combine dry ingredients
- Combine butter and sugar
- Add eggs
- Add nuts, vanilla, bananas
- Ad chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.
In a small saucepan, combine the bananas and rum over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring as you go to allow the bananas to get really smooshy. Simmer 5 minutes, cover, and remove from the heat. Let this mixture rest covered off heat for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour. You shouldn’t see a lot of loose liquid when it’s done.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a larger bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the sugar and melted butter together until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully combined. Gently beat in the walnuts, vanilla, and banana mixture.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet in three additions, gently stirring after each addition. Once the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for one hour. When it’s ready, a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean (or cleanish). Cool in the pan on a baking rack. Slice and serve, warm or room temperature.