Banana Loaf with ChocolatePosted: May 7, 2012
It’s a two-fer this week, with two versions of the same recipe that’s sure to be a hit whichever one you try.
Banana loaf is awesome, because the very best tasting versions actually depend on you being a little slack in the housekeeping department. Banana loaves made with firm, bright yellow bananas, whose stems crack as you bend them and whose skin comes away with the almost-crunch of pert freshness….. are a complete miss.
Blotched and blackening bananas whose stems actually fall off as you try to pick them up are absolute gold for making rich, moist, indulgent banana cake. Black gold, I call them – ignoring my husband’s look of horror at what appears to be the makings of a compost heap in the fruit bowl.
As the bananas ripen, their natural sugars develop and deepen, so the riper and darker a banana is, the softer and sweeter and more rounded the depth of flavour. Banana loaf made with ‘ripe’ bananas isn’t very banana-y, but made with bananas when the skin is virtually black, are rich in both flavour and taste and are incredibly moist.
I love this recipe in particular because it used a LOT of bananas, so the flavour and moistness is outstanding. Only got one over-ripe banana? Not to worry, throw it in the freezer – skin and all – until you’ve stock-piled enough for a batch of banana bread.
As if this recipe for banana loaf weren’t already amazing, just a slight tweak can tip it over into Awesomeness – make it a chocolate banana loaf. This gives me an opportunity to pass on a fast and dirty Baking Top Tip for turning something chocolate-y. Got a favourite cake mix, or crisp biscuit, or scone? Don’t waste time searching for a delicious chocolate equivalent, simply chocolatise (is that a word?) your tried and tested recipe and get stuck in!
Baking Top Tip: You can adapt a recipe into a chocolate version by simply replacing some of the flour content with an equal amount of cocoa powder.
For this recipe, I usually substitute 3-4 heaped tablespoons of flour with cocoa for an intense chocolatey-ness that stands up well to the banana. The density of the loaf, in combination with the richness of the banana makes this seem incredibly indulgent. The moisture from the bananas means that it can also be enjoyed much longer than a sponge cake – great for the week’s packed lunches. Unfortunately, it tastes so amazing, it’s rarely around long enough to demonstrate it’s excellent keeping qualities.
Using cocoa powder as opposed to chocolate or chocolate chips also means it’s lower in fat and by using blackened bananas, their incredible sweetness means less sugar is needed. Which all in all, makes it practically a health food in my book!
Enough blabber. On with the recipe!
300g plain flour – for chocolate version, take out 3-4 heaped tablespoons and replace with cocoa powder.
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
113g unsalted butter
150g dark muscovado sugar 
2 large eggs
4-5 mashed blackening/black bananas – about 500ml by volume
- Preheat oven to 175°C, 150°C Fan.
- Lightly grease and line a large loaf pan (24cm x 13cm) with parchment paper.
- Sift together flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
- In separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs one by one, mixing well in-between.
- Stir in mashed bananas.
- Fold in flour mixture until combined. Don’t over-mix.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake for between 50 minutes and 1 hour until the sides of the cake have visibly drawn away from the sides of the tin, and a toothpick/cake tester/skewer comes out clean of wet cake mix.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes to firm up, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
- When cooled, wrap in parchment/foil to store.
UPDATE: You can bake this mixture in cupcake cases (NOT muffin cases) for Banana Buns and Chocolate Banana Buns. A full batch makes 24 buns. Bake for 15 minutes.
 I prefer dark muscovado for the softness in texture, which makes it easy to cream with the butter, and the caramel flavour, which really compliments the bananas. Don’t get obsessive about it though – any brown sugar will do, or even white. Go with what you like/have.