There they sat. In their bowl on the counter, reproaching me with every glance at them. Slowly losing their vibrant color, bruises and marks deepening, growing smaller perceptibly every day. Bananas. Happy George of the Jungle yellow ‘naners making me anxious and sad with each passing day. I am not one of those people who relish the brown banana. Ever since I was a kid and peeled one open on the advice of an adult that it was “perfectly good” and found a soft, slightly slimy, beige-ish, most definitely not my idea of a banana inside, brown bananas make me shiver. Most assuredly I am not the “throw it in the freezer until you want to make bread with it” person either. Those almost black, withered things lying in the freezer horrify me and make me slam the door and hold it shut with both hands so it can’t possible every escape to terrify me in the dark. So….I almost never buy more than two bananas at a time. I delight in perfectly yellow, just lost the touch of green, firm bananas. But you have to be diligent because they turn into the banana zombies almost overnight. So two, only two, at a time. I’ve started to get organic fruit and veggies delivered to the house every week, from Door to Door Organics, and last week, in my bitty box (the smallest one) were 5 bananas. 5. I thought I’d be okay as I had family here for a few days, and surely, the bananas would get eaten. But there they were, so I decided this time I was going to use them even if it was technically (according to the banana bread fanatics) too early to use them. Bah! They worked fine. They were soft enough that the mixer could smash and mush them up, but still not to the zombie stage. I had a bit of dark chocolate that I thought I thought would be lovely in the bread, just a hint, to complement and give the bread some depth and texture. I have to tell you, it worked out perfectly. I went looking for recipes out on the ‘net and ended up combining several to get what I wanted. No more banana monsters for this girl.
This bread has a more cake-like structure, moist and tender crumb, with a crunchy top that shatters a bit under the knife. I let the mixer do the mashing for me, I just put the bananas in first, turned the mixer to medium and let it beat them to a pulp, literally, for about 3 minutes. If you you’re using banana zombies, you can mash them by hand or just throw them in and add the rest of the wet ingredients.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
3 medium to large bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of finely chopped dark chocolate
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup honey
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 9- x 5-inch metal loaf pan. Or just spray with some cooking oil spray and line with parchment, letting some hang over the sides. I didn’t spray the parchment, but I think that a light spray wouldn’t hurt. Just loosen the ends of the loaf and grasp the parchment and pull, it will come right out.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, mix together the banana, eggs, oil, honey, and water. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix well. Gently mix the chocolate shards in, and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
In a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients. Sprinkle them evenly over the batter.
Bake the bread until a tester inserted into its center comes out clean, about 1 hour, give or take a little. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then carefully remove the bread from the pan, taking care not to dislodge the topping. Cool completely before slicing.
This would be lovely served with whipped cream, or warmed and served with ginger ice cream. But I think my favorite way is with an afternoon cup of coffee or tea, thickly sliced and slowly savored.