To those of you who stood by me as I unloaded yesterday about the state of the world, I offer you gratitude in the form of banana bread. And if you've been reading this blog since its inception, you know that I generally avoid eating chocolate before lunch. Well, screw it. I make an exception for banana bread, but that's only because 1) it's filled with bananas, 2) bananas have potassium, 3) chocolate has nine letters, and 4) so does potassium.
Logic has never been my strong suit.
The inspiration for this banana bread came directly from the cookbook Baking Illustrated by the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine to which, for the record, I no longer hold a subscription. But I do like the baking book for its trustworthy recipes, even if I can't help tinkering with them on occasion.
Recently, a half-opened bag of almond meal fell out of the freezer and landed on my foot. Instead of putting it back, I put it in banana bread, which seemed a perfectly reasonable plan of action.
The original recipe, which can be found online here at Leite's Culinaria, is excellent, and you'd certainly be happy with it as is. But because the almond meal wounded my 5th metatarsal, I had no choice but to use it in this recipe. I also added some white whole wheat flour. And almond extract. And sour cream. And brown sugar. Oh, and mini chocolate chips. Sorry, but that's just the way things roll around here.
My version follows. And if I could make but one further suggestion, it would be to double the recipe and freeze a loaf for later.
Recipe for Exceptional Almond-Scented Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
I use finely ground almond meal (available at Trader Joe's), which gives the bread a wonderfully moist texture but is almost undetectable. I can guarantee, from parental experience, that even people who don't fancy any crunch in their baked goods will wolf this down and plead for more.
2/3 cup each all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, and almond meal
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas, shmooshed into oblivion
2 tablespoons each plain yogurt and sour cream (or 1/4 cup of either one)
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
3/4 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 teaspoon each almond extract and vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a loaf pan with nonstick spray and dust it with flour. Tap out the excess.
In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, almond meal, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, stir together the shmooshed bananas, yogurt, sour cream, eggs, butter, and both extracts. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry. Toss in the mini chocolate chips.
Use a rubber spatula to fold the lot together just until everything is evenly moistened but no further. Bake for 55 minutes precisely, or until a tester emerges unmarred. The loaf will be deep brown. Cool completely before even thinking of unmolding onto a wire rack.
N.B. Do not be tempted to remove the banana bread from the oven prematurely, or you'll be sorry. In my pre-professional-banana-bread-making days, many of my loaves sported a strip of raw batter through their central axis. Patience is a virtue.