Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 8th March 2013
For the longest time the one item that was guaranteed to land in my grocery basket was bananas but for the last six months I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve purchased them. They were back in the basket early last week because we were craving banana bread. I’ve been waiting patiently (not) for a good week and a half for the bananas to ripen and be full of flavour. The day finally arrived yesterday; the bananas were as dark as the night sky and perfect for my Chocolate Banana Bread.
Banana bread never lasts long in our house; it’s barely out of the oven before everyone starts to dig in. I wanted to add chocolate this time but my first attempt was a disaster, a little too much chocolate (is that even possible?), not enough banana or leavening and slightly too bitter. First chocolate banana bread – untouched – I think I see banana bread pudding in the near future.
Second chocolate banana bread – rich chocolate, sweet banana, deep nutty flavour and caramel – heaven sent! I used a generous amount of golden yellow sugar, which adds a wonderful moistness to the crumb and also provides a tasty caramel flavour.
In the first banana bread I added chocolate in three ways, cocoa, melted bittersweet chocolate and bittersweet chocolate chips – too much – too bitter. This time I showed restraint and reduced the amount of cocoa did away with the melted chocolate but left the chips to provide the glorious small dots of oozing chocolate.
In the past I’ve never taken the time to roast the nuts first. When you take a moment to think about it, the nuts must be roasted first to achieve maximum flavour because they’ll never get hot enough to roast because the batter insulates them. I’m glad I performed the extra task because the glorious deep nutty flavour achieved only by roasting them separately makes a big difference in the overall flavour of the bread.
To achieve the incredibly soft, moister texture I added the generous amount of brown sugar I mentioned above but I also used canola oil instead of butter. I also lightened the thick batter with heavy cream that I whipped to medium peaks (a wonderful tip I picked up from Shirley Corriher via her cookbook, BakeWise). The whipped cream adds moisture, which provides a remarkable soft crumb and best of all it imparts a lovely flavour.
When I prepared the first banana bread I didn’t prepare a topping and it was like getting all dressed up for night on the town but forgetting to put makeup on – something was missing. This time I took inspiration from Starbucks. Have you ever enjoyed their Chocolate-Cinnamon Bread? It’s topped with a cocoa-cinnamon crust; it’s full of amazing flavour but it also provides a wonderful contrast in texture.
I took their lead and prepared a similar topping using brown sugar, cocoa, Vietnamese cinnamon, nutmeg and coarse sanding sugar. The topping added a crispy top crust, which is the perfect contrast to the soft, moist crumb and it also provides a warm, sweet, spicy flavour.
As far as I’m concerned, chocolate and banana – are made for each other!
Chocolate Banana Bread with Roasted Walnuts
Makes one 23 x 13 x 8 cm (9 x 5 x 3-inch) loaf or one 22 x 11 x7 cm (8¾ x 4¼ x 2¾) plus four 9 x 4 x 4 cm (3½ x 1¾ x 1¾-inch)
- Chocolate Banana Bread Batter
- Cocoa-Cinnamon Topping
- 50 g (¼ cup) yellow golden sugar (light brown sugar)
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa or dutch process cocoa
- Heaping ½ teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons coarse white sugar (sanding sugar)
- In small bowl, stir together yellow golden sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg and sanding sugar with a fork until well combined.
Chocolate Banana Bread Batter
- Unsalted butter, room temperature, for greasing tin
- 48 g (½ cup) unsweetened cocoa
- 219 g (1¾ cups) bread flour
- 1¾ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 180 ml (¾ cup) buttermilk, room temperature
- 400 g (11 ounces or about 1¾ cups) bananas, mashed (about 4 medium)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 120 ml (½ cup) canola oil
- 250 g (1¼ cups) yellow golden sugar (light brown sugar)
- 113 g (½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 120 ml (½ cup) heavy cream, 35%, whipped to medium peaks
- 170 g (6 ounces) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
- 120 g (1 cup) walnuts, roasted and chopped coarsely
- Place a baking stone on the middle oven rack and preheat oven to 190° C (375° F). Using pastry brush, lightly grease base and sides of loaf tin with softened butter. Line the tin with baking paper and then lightly grease paper.
- Using fine mesh sieve, sift cocoa twice onto a sheet of baking paper and then sift together, cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into medium bowl; whisk together to combine well.
- In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk, mashed bananas, and vanilla with a fork until just blended.
- In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together oil, brown sugar, caster sugar, and eggs at medium speed until well incorporated.
- Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture and beat until halfway incorporated (batter will be very thick almost like a cookie dough).
- Add the buttermilk-banana mixture and beat to well incorporate scraping down sides, bottom of bowl and paddle attachment (scraping all three is important because the mixture sticks).
- Remove bowl from stand mixer. Using large flexible spatula, stir one-quarter of the whipped cream into the batter (to loosen). Then fold in the remaining whipped cream.
- Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared baking tin (see above for size). Sprinkle topping evenly over the top of the loaf and then place on the baking stone in the oven.
- Bake until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 50 minutes. (If making mini loafs, reduce baking time to about 20 minutes, and again, only bake until cake tester inserted in centre comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.)
- Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack. Let stand in the tin, 10 minutes. Use the baking paper to lift the loaf out of the tin, transfer to wire rack, remove paper from sides and let stand until completely cooled.
- Buon Appetito!
Tags: after school treat, banana bread, banana cake, banana loaf, breakfast, breakfast loaf, brunch, chocolate, chocolate cake, chocolate loaf, entertaining, food, food photography, food photos, quick bread
Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Fillings, Frostings & Dessert Sauces, Muffins & Quick Breads, Pastry Doughs & Batter, Recipes, Ricette di Base