I have a love hate relationship with Instagram that can sometimes turn into obsessive. I scroll through the pictures, admiring and studying them. But then one will catch my eye, a picture of a salad, a cake cooling out of the oven, a stack of cookies, fresh herbs, or any beautiful plating, and then I catch myself daydreaming about that item to the point of compulsion. Next you know I am off to the market to get what I need in order to curb my fixation. Into the kitchen I go with ideas of grander, note pad and pen in hand. I scribble out a recipe and start cooking / baking to ease my latest impulses. Sometimes the outcome is amazing, yet others times I am left deflated and uninspired. This is the endless battle of being an artist…or so my husband says.
My most recent Instagram craze was over a picture of banana bread. I know what you are thinking — it was just banana bread. But, no. It was not just an ordinary loaf of banana bread, it was stunning to look at. The top of the loaf you could tell had a nice crust to it, with the inside of the loaf looking rich and moist. It had chocolate chunks in it; and across the top of the cake was a whole banana sliced length wise. You could see that the banana slightly caramelized as it baked and rested into the top of the loaf. It was love at first sight!
I ran to the market to get bananas. Low and behold none of them were near the right degree of ripeness. Agony had set in, I was going to have to sit and wait a couple of days for the bananas to mature and become more sweet. If you are questioning what I mean by this I'll explain. When a banana’s peel is slightly green and pale yellow it is no way ready to bake or cook with. The fruit within will be extra firm and somewhat starchy in it’s taste. Once the banana sits a couple of days the peal begins to get brownish spots and the interior begins to soften ever so slightly. The banana’s flavor begins to develop; it sweetens and will mash nicely when a fork presses against it. This is when your bananas are ready for baking. It will impart it’s flavor and moistness to whatever you are baking it in.
Day after day I would look over the bunch of bananas I had. It wasn’t until a few days had passed and the bananas were about ready. I was thrilled. I have painstakingly been thinking about banana bread for days on end. It was time to end this compulsion and satisfy my mind and my taste buds. I quickly mashed a couple of the bananas and made the batter for the loaf. I folded in the chocolate chunks, placed the batter into the prepared pan, and strategically sliced a banana length wise. I gently pressed the banana slices to the top of the batter and coated them along with the top of the loaf with sugar. I placed it in the oven to bake and my apartment filled with the most intoxicating smell. Once the banana bread was ready and cooling out of the oven I stood over admiring it. It was beautiful. The banana caramelized every so slightly and upon slicing it I was pleased to see that the texture remained moist with a slight crumb. We nibbled on it through the week and I do believe the flavor was even better the day after it was baked. Good things do come to those who wait. This is a win for Instagram — now lets see what my next obsession will be.
Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks (makes one loaf)
1 cup and 2 tbsp AP flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 medium bananas
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
3 oz or 6 tbsp coconut oil
1 scant cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chunks
1 medium banana
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
First, heat your oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl whisk together your flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. Set is aside.
Next, in a large mixing bowl place your three bananas and mash them evenly with a fork. Over the bananas place your coconut oil, sugar and salt. Whisk it all together until smooth. Add in your eggs and vanilla and mix it thoroughly. Sprinkle the flour mix over you banana mixture and whisk until it is just combined.
Then, fold in your chocolate chunks gently. Take a loaf pan and oil it well, then line it with parchment paper. I personally like to let the parchment paper lay evenly along the base of the pan, up the sides, allowing a bit of hangover (This helps the banana bread lift out of the pan easily when it is through baking). Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Take your remaining banana and slice it evenly length wise. Press the sliced banana into the top of the batter with the flat sliced side facing up. Mix together your sugar and cinnamon topping. Sprinkle the topping across the bananas and the top of the cake.
Finally, place your pan in the center of the oven and bake about 120 minutes, rotating it half way though. Test the banana bread’s doneness after it bakes for an hour being that every oven is different. Once done, let the banana bread cool about 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Slice and enjoy, keeps up to week when wrapped in plastic.