When life gives you bananas

I’ve been eating a lot of bananas lately. And not just for an afternoon snack, or with my cereal in the morning. No, I wake up at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings, try and gag down a banana, and go back to bed for an hour. This sounds odd to most, but for someone who overdosed on the starchy fruit as a little girl, it’s particularly strange and unpleasant. When I turn out my bedside light on Friday night, I can’t help but dread the looming alarm and banana that await me. So what’s the deal? I’m training for the Nike Women’s Marathon and our coach has given us strict instructions to get some food into our bodies well before our our training runs in the morning. I’m not an early breakfast person as it is, especially not before 7:00, so this has been a challenge for me. The one thing I can seem to get down is half a banana. Thus: lots of bananas hanging around the house. And with our unusually hot weather over the past week, that means lots of overripe bananas. So every cook or baker knows: time to make banana bread.

I recently finished Molly Wizenberg’s beautiful memoir, A Homemade Life. In it, Wizenburg chronicles her move to Seattle, meeting her future husband through her blog Orangette, and the death of her father. It’s truly a food memoir for my generation–I can’t so much relate to getting a divorce and up and moving to Italy. But I can relate to small apartment kitchens, what it feels like to move to a new city without knowing anyone, and stark uncertainty about what the future holds. In addition to prose that will make you want to read very slowly with hopes the book will never end, Molly includes numerous personal and family recipes she’s come to cherish over the years. Her Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Ginger caught my eye.

The recipe is different from your typical banana bread. The one I tend to rely on is quite healthy: it’s made with whole grain flour, honey, and apple juice. Molly’s recipe is not as wholesome, but is exponentially more special. It’s especially moist due to the use of whole milk yogurt (I used Trader Joe’s Greek-style yogurt), and the little shards of ginger melt and infuse the loaf with a soft warmth. It’s a decadent bread. But if you’re logging 30-4o miles a week, that’s o.k. Even if you’re not, I still think it’s o.k. Life is short.
Molly’s banana bread would also be a lovely dessert with dollops of homemade whipped cream and a dusting of chocolate. Or just make a strong pot of coffee, and heat up a slice with a bit of butter for breakfast. Runner or not, you’ll have plenty of energy and a smile on your face for the road ahead.

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Candied Ginger

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Candied Ginger

  • Yield: 8
  • Prep time: 15 mins
  • Cook time: 50 mins
  • Total time: 1 hr 5 mins

Recipe from: Orangette


6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
3 bananas (or 1 1/2 cups), mashed
1/4 cup whole milk, plain yogurt (not low or non-fat)
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 F, and grease a standard 9 x 5 loaf pan.

In a small bowl, microwave the butter until just melted (do this slowly so as not to spatter the butter). Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and ginger and mix together.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add banana, yogurt, butter, and vanilla and mix until combined (a fork is fine here). Pour banana mixture into dry ingredients and fold in (don’t over mix). The batter should be thick and lumpy.

Pour into a loaf pan and bake 50 minutes to 1 hour (my loaf took an hour) or until golden brown on top, with a toothpick coming out of the center clean. Out of the oven, cool the loaf in the pan for five minutes. Then invert onto a wire rack to cool all the way. Slice and serve.


  1. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite

    Mmmmm - I might have to use the brown bananas in our house for this over the weekend! Though I don't much like ginger so I would have to add extra chocolate chips, I guess?!?! Or some walnuts....

  2. Chez Danisse

    This recipe caught my eye too. I tried using the batter to make muffins a while back. I adjusted the temp and baking time for muffins, they smelled fantastic, but they were just too dry. I'll have to try the bread. Yours looks good.

  3. Megan Gordon

    Hey Mardi-I would substitute walnuts. Plenty of chocolate chips as it is. I think it'd be great! And Denise, it's so funny because the few people that I've talked to that have made the bread said it turned out a bit dry for them. The exact opposite was true for me: mine was actually a little too gooey (which probably has to do with cooking time more than anything). But I did use Greek-style yogurt...maybe that has a role?

  4. Kelsey B.

    I did this recipe, too - when her book came out last winter. It is SOO good. I ended up using sour cream since my yogurt had turned when I went to use it. It worked well, too!

  5. taylor

    I am making this for the second time! Its perfect, and that extra zest from the ginger is a stellar combo in the banana bread! I have 6 roomates and lets just say... it didnt last very long. Thanks! What would you do with Quinoa for a desert?


  6. robin

    hate ginger with a passion but choc, chips and bananas, oh Im all about that.

  7. Sheila

    Hi, Megan. I've recently discovered your blog and LOVE it. I've been reading back to the beginning and having a great time trying some new recipes.

    If you haven't yet given it a go, also try making Heidi Swanson's Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread -- another awesome way to use those old bananas. Here's the link: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/lemony-olive-oil-banana-bread-recipe.html

    Hope you're getting all settled in at your new home... We (husband + son + daughter) just moved a couple months ago so can relate to the joy + little bit of chaos!

    1. megang

      Hi Shelia! Thank you so much for your sweet comment and welcome! I haven't tried Heidi's recipe, actually, and am so happy you pointed me towards it. We've finally unpacked the kitchen and I've got an itch to make. Happy weekend to you!

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