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September 29 2010 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Breakfast,Dessert » 41 comments

Cocoa Banana Loaf

Kevin lodged a vague request for something banana-y and breakfast-y a couple weeks back.  Normally, I am thrilled to have a request and act on it as quickly as possible, but such jump-to-it-ness simply isn’t possible when it comes to banana -based baked goods.  Unless, of course, you store bananas in your freezer, an excellent practice and one that I am not organized enough to accomplish.  So, I did the next best thing: I snapped up a bunch of bananas at the store.  And then I waited.

Cocoa Banana Loaf

When purchased, the bananas’ peels were a sunny hue, blemish-free and even tinged with whispers of lime green.  In short, these bananas were completely unsuitable for baking.  It wasn’t until a week later, when the bananas had softened on the kitchen counter, taking on a deeply freckled complexion, that they were ready.  By that time, of course, I wasn’t in the mood to bake my regular old banana bread.

Cocoa Banana Loaf

For inspiration (lest the bananas go to waste!), I turned to a couple of new cookbooks I picked up recently in the bargain bin at the bookstore—The Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker ($5.99!) and Nigella Lawson’s Feast ($7.99!!). I flipped to the index of Lawson’s book first, scanned the “B” section and quickly paged to a recipe for Banana Breakfast Ring.  The recipe itself looked rather basic, but its headnote caught my eye.  It read (and I do hope that you read the following aloud in Nigella’s lovely accent or, at the very least, invoke the accent as you read to yourself silently): “There’s just something about this gently fragrant, very plain pale cake that makes it the perfect breakfast slice.  Eat still warm, with maybe some maple syrup drizzled over or smeared with Nutella if you must . . . .”

Cocoa Banana Loaf

This note is so thoroughly Nigella and I loved it for that, sure.  But it was the Nutella that made my eyes widen and my pulse quicken.  I snapped the book shut and exclaimed: “Brilliant!”—which is the most British exclamation I could summon.  At this point, my regular-old banana bread wasn’t sounding too bad anymore—so long as I purchased a pot of Nutella and lavished it upon every single slice.  At that rate, I thought to myself, I may just need to pick up two pots of Nutella.

Cocoa Banana Loaf

For good measure, I decided to skim The Modern Baker’s index anyway—and I’m glad I did.  There, a recipe for Cocoa Banana Muffins leapt off the page.  This recipe was communing with Nigella’s recipe’s headnote—except this recipe was just putting the Nutella (or the chocolate, at least) in the banana muffins.  Double brilliant!

Cocoa Banana Loaf

And so it was that the speckled bananas were put to use and that Cocoa Banana Loaf was born.  And about the loaf—it’s wonderful, not to mention beautiful, especially when showered with powdered sugar.  I think of banana loaves as falling along a spectrum that ranges from decadent and cake-like to wholesome and quick-bread-like.  This loaf, tall and dense and fragrant, lies decidedly at the decadent and cakey end of things. Although I didn’t select Lawson’s recipe in the end, I think she would approve of the results.

Cocoa Banana Loaf

Cocoa Banana Loaf
Adapted Slightly from Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker

Yield: 1 9- or 10-inch loaf*

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
2/3 cup alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder, sifted after measuring
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium, very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork to make 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup sour cream
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs

Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9- or 10-inch loaf pan.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir well to mix. In a separate bowl, stir together the mashed bananas and sour cream; set aside.

Combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and place on mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for about a minute, or until well mixed and a little lightened in color. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating smooth after each addition.

Decrease the mixer speed to low and beat in half the flour mixture. Stop the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and beater.  On low speed, beat in the banana mixture. After the batter has absorbed the banana mixture, beat in the remaining flour mixture. Stop and scrape down the bowl and beater again. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to give a final mixing to the batter.

Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until the loaf is well-risen and firm to the touch.  Test the loaf with a toothpick or the point if a thin-bladed knife – it should emerge with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool the loaf in the pan on a rack.

Once the loaf is cool, turn it out onto a board or serving plate.  Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

* I used a 9-inch pan and didn’t have any volume problems.  A commenter used a 9-inch pan, though, and have volume troubles.  So, if you’ve got both pan sizes on hand, err or the side of the larger pan.  (Thanks, Judy!)

41 comments so far. »
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  1. Georgie says on September 29 2010 at 9:15 pm:

    What a perfect compromise – I think Nigella would definitely approve!

  2. Adriana from Baking Powders says on September 29 2010 at 9:20 pm:

    i just had dinner and i’m drooling over this… i wish i had a slice to put in my mouth… or 2 or 3… super yum! and it looks really moist too

  3. Marianne says on September 29 2010 at 10:11 pm:

    Add some chopped hazelnuts to the batter, and you’d really have a nutella loaf! I might have to try that myself actually :D

  4. Tracey says on September 29 2010 at 10:14 pm:

    I recently picked up Modern Baker for $5.99 too! I can’t even tell you how excited I was about that find :) I haven’t had a chance to flip through yet but with your review this recipe definitely jumps to the front of the line.

  5. Half Assed Kitchen says on September 29 2010 at 10:20 pm:

    I do keep them in the freezer. Sometimes there’s nothing else you can do with black spotted bananas.

  6. Jessie says on September 30 2010 at 1:44 am:

    This looks SOOOOO GOOOOOD! I was only just pondering over the idea of nutella and banana toast for breakfast when I saw this! I’m so going to get nutella n banana now!

  7. Jessica @ How Sweet says on September 30 2010 at 3:00 am:

    I love chocolate and banana together!

  8. Tabitha (From Single to Married) says on September 30 2010 at 3:16 am:

    Brilliant is right – this looks fantastic!

  9. Laura says on September 30 2010 at 6:30 am:

    i was just on my way to the kitchen to make banana bread with my icky looking bananas when i saw your post. it sounds divine! i don’t have sour cream on hand so i’ll make my regular bread today but i’m saving this recipe for the next time!

  10. Amanda says on September 30 2010 at 7:13 am:

    Squeee!! I love this recipe. Seriously. Everything about. What I don’t love is that I don’t have a freaking oven. Typical NYC kitchen :( But once I go home to visit CA, I am making this. Right away.

  11. The Rowdy Chowgirl says on September 30 2010 at 7:58 am:

    I always have the same problem with bananas and jump-to-it-ness when I want banana pancakes for breakfast. But somehow, I can’t bring myself to stash bananas in the freezer. They look like slugs in there!

  12. burparoo says on September 30 2010 at 8:20 am:

    Hi! Sounds yummy. Will using normal cocoa powder be ok? Or do I have to use the alkalized Dutch processed cocoa powder? Or is there a way to replicate the alkalized part of it?

  13. heather @ chiknpastry says on September 30 2010 at 11:26 am:

    sounds like two great finds! I’m one of those people who freeze bananas, but sadly there’s only 1 in there right now. i might have to pick up more for this, though!

  14. Lisa says on September 30 2010 at 1:36 pm:

    Oooohhh. I just bought some bananas today. I was going to eat them, but it looks like I’ll have to forgo that idea so that I can make this delicious looking bread.

  15. Maddie says on September 30 2010 at 1:53 pm:

    I have the opposite problem, Kristin: too many bananas in the freezer! We buy a bunch every week, and somehow there’s always a straggler that goes black and needs to be thrown in there.

    So, clearly, I’ll be making a loaf of this stuff on Saturday. I read elsewhere about the muffin version, and seeing your post too makes it seem predestined.

  16. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on September 30 2010 at 7:28 pm:

    Thanks, you guys!

    Marianne: Triple brilliant! If only I’d had some on hand …

    Tracey: Hmm, odd that’s it’s on sale everywhere, eh? The photos are lovely and I like the organization.

    Half Assed Kitchen: You’re a better woman than I. : )

    Jessie: I think the moral of the story may be this: nutella and anything = good. Yes?

    Amanda: No. Oven. Oh, dear, how are you surviving? I bet it makes you *even* more excited to get home to CA. Hoping, for you, that the time passes quickly (till you get back home), but not too quickly (so you can keep soaking up NYC).

    The Rowdy Chowgirl: And now I’m fixated on banana pancakes. Thankyouverymuch. : )

    burparoo: I used alkalized, Dutch-processed cocoa, so I’m not sure what the results would be if you substituted. If a recipe specifies a type of cocoa, I’m typically reluctant to substitute.

    Maddie: Don’t you kind of love those stragglers even more? Because you know they’ll have a delicious end …

  17. Whitney says on September 30 2010 at 8:14 pm:

    YUM! I have some bananas waiting for my in my fruit bowl for this weekend. SO MAKING THIS.

  18. Patricia Scarpin says on October 01 2010 at 6:48 am:

    Kristin, that is a gorgeous loaf! I can’t wait to try it myself – and I’ll have Nigella’s accent in my head while baking it, you bet. ;)

  19. judy says on October 01 2010 at 3:22 pm:

    so good, if you have a self cleaning oven you won’t even mind it is toooooo big for the nine inch pan, go bigger! but, seriously yum!!!!!!!

  20. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on October 01 2010 at 5:00 pm:

    judy: Oh no! I’m sorry to hear that. I used a 9-inch pan and didn’t have any problems. I’ll make a note in the recipe though, so others have fair warning. Thanks for reporting back (and I’m glad it’s still good, even if you’re oven looks worse for the wear).

  21. Janae says on October 01 2010 at 9:49 pm:

    How funny, I bought those exact books and made the same bread, and blogged about it about a week ago (though in muffin bread). Weird…

    Even though I cut back the butter & sugar, I found them plenty sweet and light and fluffy.

    Did you find a lot of typos/bad directions in his book?

    Good stuff!

  22. Janae says on October 01 2010 at 9:51 pm:

    Oops, I meant “muffin form.”

  23. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on October 02 2010 at 5:27 am:

    Janae: What a coincidence? Your photos of the muffins are gorgeous. I’ve heard from others (most recently Amanda at Slow Like Honey) that they’ve had problems with this book. This was the first recipe I tried and I loved it. I think I’ll proceed with caution, though.

  24. Janae says on October 02 2010 at 4:34 pm:

    I know, weird! But very cool in a way — I guess we can at least say we were literally on the same page! I like that you switched it up and made a loaf; I will probably try that next time.

    Though I’ve noticed several technical issues with the book, the food comes out so wonderfully that I don’t mind :)

  25. LimeCake says on October 03 2010 at 4:38 am:

    that is a beautiful loaf cake! bananas and chocolate are so delicious together!

  26. Barbara says on October 03 2010 at 7:21 am:

    Double brilliant is an understatement! That looks so dark and moist. Hmmmm. I have some over-ripe bananas on my counter too.

  27. Robin says on October 03 2010 at 12:47 pm:

    I just made your loaf cake and everyone has given it 2 thumbs up! I used natural cocoa as I didn’t have Dutch processed and it still worked.
    Love your blog!

  28. Becky says on October 03 2010 at 9:59 pm:

    Hey, thanks so much for posting this, it looks delish! I just put a bunch of brown bananas in the freezer last week and was waiting to come across a great recipe, so thank you!

  29. judy says on October 04 2010 at 9:20 am:

    so, despite my earlier comment re the overflow from pan size, i shared one of the 2 cakes with my friend who does enjoy banana breads. he is never sure if the goodies come from me or my daughter experimenting with new recipies, thus two names but here is his feed back ;)
    ;Hi Judy,

    I just had to write to tell you and Mandy how delicious that chocolate banana bread was! I didn’t even know that such a variation existed. You’ve broadened my world. Thank you ladies.


  30. Nicole @ the dirty oven says on October 04 2010 at 8:11 pm:

    I love Nick’s book and so am going to have to try this ….. only when my darn fridge is here…. recent fridge death = sad!

  31. laura says on October 04 2010 at 9:13 pm:

    i also picked up the modern baker for 5.99, though i haven’t properly explored it yet! i’m jealous about your nigella find in the bargain bin, i may have to search for that one. this loaf looks fantastic!

  32. Gemma says on October 05 2010 at 1:04 pm:

    That looks wonderful. I’m adding it to my baking project list!

  33. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on October 05 2010 at 8:12 pm:

    Janae: Definitely cool — makes me love the internet. : )

    LimeCake: Thanks (and I agree!)!

    Barbara: Lucky you!

    Becky: Why, you’re welcome! I hope you give this a try.

    Robin: That’s wonderful! And good to know re: natural (versus Dutch-processed) cocoa. Thanks for the tip.

    judy: So glad to hear it!

    Nicole: Oh! That is sad. Here’s hoping it’s on the mend soon.

    laura: Wow, it’s really making the deeply-discounted rounds, isn’t it?

    Gemma: It was lovely! I hope you try it. (And I hope you’re enjoying you’re home. I’ve been following along with your updates and you’ve got me thinking I need to take a trip to Champaign!)

  34. jodye @ 'scend food says on October 06 2010 at 12:06 pm:

    Goodness, this looks amazing! I love Nick Malgieri; I’s especially partial to one of his recipes for oatmeal raisin cookies.

  35. tiffany says on October 07 2010 at 5:22 am:

    this post made me laugh, as I buy bananas at Costco and can never finish a bunch on my own….so I keep all the remainders in the freezer! (there are so many, in fact, one would think I’m harbouring a pet monkey) Great post, I’ll surely put my bananas to good cocoa bread use!

  36. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) says on October 10 2010 at 1:30 pm:

    Oh this really does look brilliant! So bookmarked. I’ve recently began freezing bananas so that I can satisfy cravings like this one!

  37. Laurel says on October 24 2010 at 10:23 pm:

    I made this loaf this morning, and it is a FULL 9×5 pan’s worth. I also added chocolate chips & slivered crystallized ginger a la Orangette. Mmmmmm….

  38. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on October 26 2010 at 4:54 pm:

    Laurel: That sounds lovely! Thanks for the feedback on the pan-size, too.

  39. betty says on November 22 2010 at 8:50 pm:

    looks yummy thanks for sharing :O)

  40. [...] I’m a huge fan of anything banana and chocolate, usually separately, but when I saw this on The Kitchen Sink Recipes blog, I knew I had to make it as soon as possible. And there was not a doubt in my mind that it [...]

  41. [...] I’m a huge fan of anything banana and chocolate, usually separately, but when I saw this on The Kitchen Sink Recipes blog, I knew I had to make it as soon as possible. And there was not a doubt in my mind that it [...]

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