Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Avoiding disaster

This week is going to be a long week. One of my co-teachers is out on vacation part of the week, and my other co-teacher has a knee injury and can't move around too much in the classroom. Yay. To lift my spirits, I decided to do a little baking in the form of a loaf of chocolate banana bread.

It was inspired by a recipe in the latest issue of Sunset magazine. But instead of a classic banana bread recipe with cocoa added to it, it substituted prune puree for the butter and included such things as walnuts and chocolate chips. Which I didn't have. I did have, however, two frozen bananas and a brand-new container of Green and Black's Organic baking cocoa.

A small aside here: A lot of chocolate is produced in not-so-friendly ways. In fact, much of the chocolate in the more commonly known brands is from plantations where they pay extremely low wages and employ child slave labor. I highly recommend buying chocolate from companies that support fair trade and organc growing practices, which would include Green and Black's, Dagoba, and Endangered Species. Sure, it costs more — but isn't it worth it to know your chocolate wasn't harvested by child labor?

To make the bread, I used my usual banana bread recipe and simply added the 1/2 cup baking cocoa from the Sunset recipe. Into a large bowl went the dry ingredients, and into a blender went the wet ones. It wasn't until I began to mix the two together that it occurred to me that perhaps I had misread the amount of flour — and as I stirred and saw that the dry ingredients were not fully incorporating into the wet ones, I already knew what my mistake had been. Two mistakes, actually. The first was that I used 1-3/4 cup flour instead of the 1-1/4 in the recipe. The second was that by adding 1/2 cup cocoa, I should have reduced the amount of flour. So there was far too much flour in the bowl than necessary.

I panicked slightly. Considering how much my fancy organic cocoa cost, even on sale, there was no way I could just throw out the batter. Although I had used melted butter as the lubricant in the recipe, I decided that canola oil would do the trick to moisten the mixture enough. I poured in some, then a little more, until the batter was dense but combined. If I'd had another banana, I would have thrown that in, too. But I didn't.

I put it in the oven to bake, crossing my fingers that it would all come out okay. Halfway through baking, the apartment smelled wonderful, and I figured there was still hope that the bread would be fine.

It took a little longer to bake than as directed in the recipe, so while the middle was still not completely baked through, the sides were drying out and nearly beginning to burn. The resulting bread wasn't perfect, but it was quite tasty, especially with a smear of cream cheese on top.

I've already told my co-teacher J that I plan to make a blueberry cream cheese coffee cake next week. Let's just hope I can manage to do it without any mishaps!

Chocolate banana bread
(adapted from Clueless in the Kitchen by Evelyn Raab)

1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c sugar (feel free to use less, particularly if your bananas are especially overripe)
1/2 c baking cocoa, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c melted butter or oil (I used butter this time)
2 bananas
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, stir dry ingredients together. In a blender, add all the wet ingredients and blend until fully combined. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry.

Pour the batter into a well-greased loaf pan and bake for an hour. Test the bread with a toothpick or wooden skewer; when it comes out with only a few crumbs clinging on, it's done. Turn out onto a wire rack and let cool.

Serve with cream cheese, if you so desire.


Michael Doss said...

That looks really good. I'm a little iffy about prune puree, but as far as a texture enhancer goes, I'm sure it's pretty good.

As an aside, Green and Black's has absolutely the best white chocolate I've ever tasted in my life (and also the only organic white I can find).

Teresa said...

I didn't do the prune one this time, but I might try it next time! We have some prune baby food in the classroom that I could use...

I haven't tried Green and Black's white chocolate. I'll have to check it out.