Banana bread will make a woman do all sorts of dangerous nonsense. It will make her leave bananas out on the countertop until they’re soft and dark and starting to attract fruit flies, then will claim precious freezer storage for the dark and soft bananas. It will make her take home fifteen bunches of bananas that are ripening rapidly for hope of that sweet, sweet taste. Banana bread will seduce with promises of an easy cake, a sweet treat, and leave her trembling and angry when her oven will not turn on. In a fit of desperation this woman may to bake banana bread in her toaster oven, thus jeopardizing her own happy relationship. Banana bread, for all its wholesome image, is a minx.
For a few years now I thought I’d have mastered banana bread. I keep a few bananas in the freezer, already peeled and portioned in delis that I’ve taken from work. I keep no more than a few at a time. I have the recipe that I love at my fingertips, a recipe that utilizes nutritious ingredients that I always keep on hand. We’ve come to an understanding, banana bread and I. I make it during baking season as often as is reasonable and it leaves my relationship alone. And then I decide to share this recipe with you. I woke up an hour earlier before brunch to try to photograph it. I need two more sessions, a set of recently purchased antique napkins, and moving all of the living room furniture out of the room to take a palatable photograph. I denied Aaron banana bread for two days. Banana bread brings out something wild in me.
For all my complaints, this banana bread is worth it. With the combination of olive oil, yogurt, bananas, and eggs it’s intensely moist, even after a long spell in the oven. The dark brown sugar is sophisticated, and the whole wheat flour brings out a beautiful nuttiness. I know there are plenty of people who are hesitant about using whole wheat flour in sweet baking. Yes, it often changes the texture and can be dry. But here you want the whole wheat flour. It has the structure you want to stand up to all those lusciously moist ingredients. And they in turn soften the whole wheat, and you’re left with something lovely. The chocolate is only the clincher.
It’s a supremely elegant banana bread. It’s the sort of banana bread I’d like to offer to guests who come for tea. I have served it as a dessert for informal friends dinners. It’s turns into muffins very nicely, and I bet it could easily make a beautiful layered cake. As long as you treat it well, this banana bread will reward you.
Olive Oil Banana Bread with Lemon Glaze
adapted from Cook This Now by Melissa Clark via 101 Cookbooks
Makes 1 loaf
I used a full cup of chocolate chips for this banana bread, because that meant no chopping and more chocolate. If you’d like a more refined banana bread, chopped chocolate would give delightful flecks throughout the whole thing.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about three large)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon zest (about half of one large lemon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons (1/4 cup +2 tablespoons) brown sugar
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add in the chocolate and whisk again. Set aside.
In another bowl whisk together the bananas, eggs, oil, yogurt, lemon zest, and vanilla until smooth. Pour into the flour mixture. Use a rubber spatula to fold the wet into the dry until all the flour is absorbed. Scrape into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake the banana bread for 50 minutes, until the banana bread is fragrant and golden. A toothpick inserted into the banana bread should come out clean. Allow it to cool completely.
Whisk together the sugars and lemon juice until completely smooth for the glaze. Pour over the cooled banana bread. Serve in thick slices.