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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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.

Comments

  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?

    http://threeoftarts.blogspot.com/

  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!

Join the Discussion

The Thanksgiving Table

A Top Contender

A Top Contender

Today is a different kind of day. Usually posts on this blog come about with the narrative and I manage to squeeze in a recipe. But sometimes when you really stumble upon a winning recipe, it speaks for itself. We'll likely make these beans for Thanksgiving this year. They're one of those simple stunners that you initially think couldn't be much of a thing. And then they come out of the oven all sweet and withered and flecked with herbs. You try one and you realize they are, in fact, a pretty big thing. 

Read More
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie with Kamut Crust

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie with Kamut Crust

I always force myself to wait until after Halloween to start thinking much about holiday pies or, really, future holidays in general. But this year I cheated a bit, tempted heavily by the lure of a warmly-spiced sweet potato pie that I used to make back when I baked pies for a living in the Bay Area (way back when). We seem to always have sweet potatoes around as they're one of Oliver's favorite foods, and when I roast them for his lunch I've been wishing I could turn them into a silky pie instead. So the other day I reserved part of the sweet potatoes for me. For a pie that I've made hundreds of times in the past, this time reimagined with fragrant brown butter, sweetened solely with maple syrup, and baked into a flaky kamut crust. We haven't started talking about the Thanksgiving menu yet this year, but I know one thing for sure: this sweet potato pie will make an appearance.

Read More
Bring the Happy

Bring the Happy

It has begun. Talk of who is bringing what, where we'll buy the turkey, what kind of pies I'll make, early morning texts concerning brussels sprouts.  There's no getting around it: Thanksgiving is on its way. And with it comes the inevitable reflecting back and thinking about what we're thankful for. And about traditions. The funny thing about traditions is that they exist because they've been around for a long time. Year after year after year. But then, one Thanksgiving maybe there's something new at the table.

Read More
For You, With Thanks

For You, With Thanks

I didn't expect green beans to bring up such a great discussion on traditions, sharing of poems and how a piece of writing can linger with you. So thank you for that. Your comments pointed out how important people and place are and how food takes the back seat when it  comes right down to it. Even if you feel quite warm towards Thanksgiving and are looking forward to next week, reading about recipe suggestions and meal planning online and in magazines can start to feel tiresome right about now. Why? Because I suppose when it all comes down to it, in the big picture it doesn't matter what we all serve anyway. Next year, you likely won't remember one year's vegetable side dish from another. What you'll remember are the markers that dotted the year for you: whom you sat next to at the table, a toast or grace, and the sense of gratitude you felt for something -- large or small.

Read More
How to Break a Thanksgiving Tradition

How to Break a Thanksgiving Tradition

I got a text from my mom the other day that read: demerara sugar? I responded back with a question mark, not sure what she was referencing. It turns out she was experimenting with a new pie recipe that called for the natural sugar and wasn't sure why she couldn't just use white sugar as that's what she's always done in the past. A few days later we talked on the phone and she mentioned she'd let me take charge of the salad for Thanksgiving this year as long as there was no kale. No kale! And I wanted to do the mashed potatoes? Would they still be made with butter and milk? In short, we're always willing to mix things up in the Gordon household. Whether it's inspiration from a food magazine, friend or coworker, either my mom or one of my sisters will often have an idea for something new to try at the holiday table. But what I've slowly learned is that it can't really be that different: there must be pumpkin pie, the can of cranberry sauce is necessary even though not many people actually eat it, the onion casserole is non-negotiable, the salad can't be too out there, and the potatoes must be made with ample butter and milk. And while I was really scheming up an epic kale salad to make this year, there's a big part of me that gets it, too: if we change things too much we won't recognize the part of the day that comes to mean so much: the pure recognition. We take comfort in traditions because we recognize them -- because they're always there, year after year. And so today I present to you (mom, are you reading?): this year's Gordon family Thanksgiving salad.

Read More