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Cooking for a friend

VERA DAWSON
summit daily news

“He’s the cook … much better than I am in the kitchen,” Kim Marquis, news editor at the Summit Daily, said about her boyfriend, Chris Eckel. “Basically, I eat; I don’t cook”, she added with a smile, “but, baking is not his thing and he loves a quick bread that combines bananas and chocolate. I want to surprise him by making one; will you help me?”

“Of course!” I replied. We set a date to bake together and I began experimenting with recipes. Kim sampled each iteration and declared the following one to be just what she was hoping for ” a strong banana taste, a moist texture and the added richness of chocolate chips. She was sure Chris would love it.

The recipe comes together quickly and is easy to make. To assure its success, however, use truly ripe bananas ” ones with skins that are slightly darkened and speckled. This really makes a big difference. And, don’t puree the bananas; mash them by hand and stop while there are still visible lumps of banana.

(makes one 8X4-inch loaf)

Adjusted for altitudes above 8,000 feet

Ingredients

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, scant

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of flour (While I have not tested this, I suggest that you add one to two tablespoons of additional flour to the recipe if you live at an altitude above 10,000 feet.)

About 3/4 cup of mashed ripe banana (one-and-a-half to two medium sized very ripe bananas)

2 tablespoons of plain yogurt or sour cream

1 large egg, slightly beaten

3 tablespoons of melted butter, cooled

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon banana extract

1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

1/2 cup of mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with the rack in the lower-middle position.

Line the 8X4 inch loaf pan with parchment paper or Reynold’s Release aluminum foil, letting it hang over both long sides of the pan about two inches. You’ll use the lining as handles when you remove the bread from the pan. Grease and flour the lined pan or spray it with Baker’s Joy and wipe the spray to spread it

evenly.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, baking soda, salt, flour, walnuts and chocolate chips. Whisk or stir them until they are combined.

Using a potato masher or big fork, mash the banana until it is soft, somewhat liquid but still has chunks of banana in it. Then, stir in the yogurt, lightly beaten egg, melted butter, vanilla and banana extracts.

Gently fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients. You do not want to make a smooth batter; you just want to mix them until the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should look thick and chunky. Stir as little as possible; stop as soon as the flour is incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, leveling the batter and smoothing the top. Fill the pan about two-thirds to three-fourths full; the bread will rise at least an inch. Because pans can differ in the amount of batter they hold, you may have a little left over.

Bake the bread until it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean of batter (there may be some melted chocolate on the toothpick). Start checking at about 35 minutes.

When the bread is fully baked, place it on a cooling rack. After about 5-7 minutes, carefully run a knife around the edges of the loaf and lift it out of the pan, using the parchment or aluminum foil as handles. Let it cool completely on the rack.

If wrapped air-tight, this bread stays fresh for a couple days at cool room temperature. It also freezes well.

If you are a beginning baker and would like help preparing a baked good for a special occasion, contact Vera Dawson at veradawson@aol.com.


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