Monday, July 6, 2009

My Signature Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

Tonight I am baking what I consider my signature recipe, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. I eat a lot of bananas, but when I can't keep up with the bunches (since I only like them when they're slightly under-ripe), they become banana bread. I've tried several recipes, but I've decided that the easiest/my favorite is one that I have adapted from one of my go-to books for easy recipes: Better Homes & Gardens red plaid cookbook (I have the 12th edition).

A random note here: I've always been confused by the term "adapted" when people (bloggers & food writers, essentially) say they've adapted something from such and such a source. Do they mean that they've made changes to a recipe, or that it's the same recipe from whatever source it's "adapted" from, and adapted is just a nice way of saying that it's someone else's recipe? If anyone could clear this up for me, I'd be most grateful. Anyway, just to make things clear, when I say adapted, I mean that I've tweaked it a little, but it's more or less the same recipe.

My adaptations to this recipe essentially include making it 1.5x bigger so that it fits perfectly in a standard bundt ban, since I am obsessed with them (see profile). I also add oats, bump up the spices, replace some of the oil with applesauce, and then add chocolate chips, because that's what makes it mm mm good. However, if you want the real Better Homes & Gardens recipe, it can be found here.

Banana Bread (Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, 12th Edition)

* 3 cups flour (I often do a 2:1 combo of all-purpose and whole wheat, or sometimes a 1.5:1:0.5 combo of all-purpose, wheat, and oats)
* 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
* 3 eggs, beaten
* About 2 cups overripe mashed bananas, which is 5 or so large bananas. I never actually measure, and it always seems to work out fine.
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil or 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
* Your favorite chocolate chips in whatever quantity you like. (I like the jumbo Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chips, and Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chip are good, too. Sometimes I do a combo of dark and semi-sweet, depending on what's in my pantry. I probably use about a cup of chocolate chips, but this is one addition you can adjust to suit your tastes.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease (with softened butter or PAM) a standard bundt pan. (These also make good muffins, so if that's more your style, grease some muffin tins)

2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour(s) through nutmeg). Whisk together lightly and make a well in the center. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, bananas, sugar and oil or oil/applesauce.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir together lightly until just combined. The batter can be lumpy. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.

4. Bake for 55-65 minutes
(20-25 minutes for muffins), or until a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle of the ring comes out clean.  The top should be golden brown and will probably be cracked in the middle. Remove  the bread from the oven and cool for at least 15 or 20 minutes before removing it from pan. To remove from pan, invert a plate or cake stand over the bundt pan and flip the plate and the pan over together.

Notice the golden brown crust, slightly cracked, and skewer used to test the banana bread.  It came out clean, which meant that the bread was ready to come out of the oven.

Now, this is where BH & G and I really differ. They say to cool the bread completely and then wrap and store overnight before serving. While this will allow the cake to firm up and make it easier to slice, I absolutely cannot resist eating at least one slice when it's still warm from the oven. I will concede, however, that it does crumble quite a bit when it's still warm from the oven, but if I'm just baking it for me, I say, who cares? In any case, you should let it cool completely before wrapping with saran wrap or aluminum foil, though I always suggest heating it up before enjoying a slice. When I'm eating it for breakfast then I just zap it in the microwave for about 20 seconds, but when I pack some for lunch I leave it in a tupperware on the dashboard of my truck all morning so that by noon the bread is warm and moist and the chocolate chips are starting to melt. Delicious! And on that note, I think I am going to go eat a slice.

Okay, so the edges are a little rough when it's hot from the oven.
By tomorrow
morning it will slice nicely, and be just as yummy.

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