Thursday 8 December 2011

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

When I popped out to Switzerland for five days a week or so ago, my mum made me some chocolate banana bread. It was an unusual choice as I don't like banana bread.

Or perhaps I should say I didn't like banana bread. As she knew, this recipe is a game changer.

My mum and I differ in our attitude to recipes. Take this one, for instance. One day she decided to double the banana as well as adapt the chocolate. Things are weighed, but in a much more dash & splash & heaped spoon manner. I adapt recipes all the time too, but I'm very methodical and always measure and record my changes carefully.

But you know what? This banana bread is fantastic. So here's to mum and her courage to just go out there and double ingredients without a thought to ratios and percentages.

Before I left, I carefully wrote down the changed recipe into my notebook so that I could make it when I got home.

Imagine my horror when I opened the cupboard to make the cake today and discovered that I'd left my home scales in my knife kit at school - I'd taken them in as a spare set for my exam. Bake without scales?! Not be able to measure everything exactly to the gram? Dear me.

But my hunger for warm, comforting banana bread won out. So I eyed 100g out of my 250g pack of butter, I used my tablespoon to measure out the flour and sugar. I went with the flow.

Heck, if mum can double an ingredient and it tastes better, I can be a few grams out today. A little break from precision.

As the cake went into the oven, it started to get dark. I'd forgotten how quickly the light drains out of the sky at the moment and soon it was far beyond the point of photography. So I sat on the floor and wistfully watched my cake bake through the glass door. I love watching things slowly rise, bubble and change - it's very calming.

I decided to try and take a photo, not expecting anything. And yet I really like the photos I took. (Here's a slightly more traditional snap of the one my mum made too). I love the suspense during the lingering wait as something bakes, the intoxicating smell. That's one of the best bits about baking and that's what I have tried to capture.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Cake
(adapted from Ultimate by Green & Blacks)

225g plain flour
1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
100g butter at room temperature
150g caster sugar
4 small very ripe bananas (or 2 large, 3 medium etc)
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp milk
100g dark chocolate - 70% to 85%, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Mash the bananas up into a puree with a fork. Add the eggs, bananas and milk to the butter/sugar mixture and beat until uniform. It will curdle and look horrid but don't worry. Fold the flour into the batter. Fold in half the chocolate then transfer to the tin.

Sprinkle the rest of the chocolate over the top then press in lightly. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until a skewer comes out without any cake mix (will probably have a bit of melted chocolate!).

(Makes one loaf)


  1. this looks lovely. in pakistan cooking is by way of approximation or as they call it andaza. i am also used to precision in measuring and so forth so found it very challenging when i would get recipes from home. i think sometimes it's good to throw yourself a challenge. you'd be surprised at how good you really are!

  2. COME CON ELLA - It's funny isn't it, how attached we get. Though I very rarely follow a recipe or measure anything (except by eye) if I'm making something savoury - it's only for baking.

  3. i know. it's something about baking. i am trying to get some straight advice from my mum about makoweic. if you have any recipes they are welcome. my grandfather makes his makoweic by intuition and it isn't helpful at all to me!

  4. We don't always have ideal light conditions to take a picture, and I love how you've found a way to take an interesting and artistic photo here. Great story about baking with your mum and throwing out the rules.

  5. I really relate to what you went through with the measuring (in fact I wrote a blog post myself a long time ago about tinkering with a banana bread recipe). But what I really wanted to say was how fabulous these pictures a food blog world where there are so many carbon copies it's fabulous to see some which capture the moment, place and atmosphere. Wonderful.

  6. I love it when someone makes something so delicious it completely changes my attitude to a recipe. Sounds like your mum has done exactly that with this gorgeous banana bread.

    The photos of your little loaf tucked away in the oven are so enticing - I can almost imagine sitting there on the floor waiting for it to cook, all those delicious smells wafting round the house. And as for measurements, I tend to panic when my scales go missing, but it's nice to know that sometimes it is possible to loosen up a bit and go with the flow :-)

  7. Not having scales can be a little liberating. I've guessed my way through a Victoria sponge before at a friend's house, it wasn't the best, however it was well enjoyed by all and its surprising how it can work out without exact measures.

  8. These photos are wonderful! They really do convey the feeling of anxiousness associated with waiting for the timer to ding.

    I, for one, love normal and plain old banana bread. I can only imagine that this would be totally outstanding!

  9. Mmm. Have just made this and it smells delicious. It took longer to bake than expected - the batter filled the tin and rose quite a lot then cracked on top. Will do the taste test tomorrow.


  10. Beautiful. A break from being "right" is always refreshing, no? I love the image of you staring into the oven too. I have had a few sit on the kitchen floor, stare at the oven moments too this year - they are quite calming. Happy Holidays to you, Emma.

  11. Emma, I love that you winged it on this recipe from your mom. I always think it's fun to try a different approach to my usual ways. Maybe it's that another part of my brain is forced to kick in... always good, right?
    And your moody photos are great!
    I am dying to know how your exams went? I'm sure your were wonderful.

  12. COME CON ELLA - I haven't heard of makoweic - what's it like? I love that your grandfather makes it by intuition.

    la domestique - It's so annoying when the light isn't right but it does force you to look outside the box - and that can be a lot of fun! - Aw thank you Sally! I do despair a little about the widespread carbon copy photography (however beautiful a lot of it is) and try to do things my way now. Glad you approve :D

    Jolene - I didn't take any others really, sorry!

    thelittleloaf - I especially love it when you can convert someone else :) I'm glad the photos make you feel as if you're almost there!

    Alex - It's good to try sometimes I think, just to expand your horizons. Though I have to admit it probably would have been better with the scales. - Glad you like them Kaitlin! I think the next step on my path to banana-bread-appreciation is to try a plainer recipe...

    Anonymous - It does smell amazing doesn't it! Hope you enjoyed the taste too.

    Kelsey (Happyolks) - It's very refreshing. Pushes the boundaries and so on. Happy Holidays to you too!

    yummy supper - Exactly - sometimes breaking the routine leads to all sorts of exciting things! They were ok thanks - theory much better than the practical! It was pretty frustrating at the time but I'm happy now :)

  13. Great recipe, and love the new name - Chocolate Clunk! Brilliant!


If you would like to leave a comment or question, please do - I appreciate every one and will reply as soon as possible.