I remember having my first banana at the age of 5. It came a long way from a foreign country and seemed to me the most exotic fruit. Well, there were certainly no bananas behind the iron curtain in Poland and anyone who was lucky enough to try them must have received them, most likely in a food parcel, from friends or relatives living in the Western world. When my husband, Maciek, was in early primary school one day one of his friends brought a banana to school. He might have as well come to school with an elephant such was the reaction of the rest of the class. Everyone gathered around the desk of the boy-with-a-banana and watched with wide eyes as he started to peel it. Obviously, hardly anyone has ever seen, let alone tried a banana. What did the teacher do when she saw all the kids going bananas? She asked the boy-who-had-a-banana if he could keep half of it and share the other half with the class. He agreed so Mrs Szpak carefully portioned half of the fruit so there was enough to go around. Fair, educational and inspiring.
Needless to say, since then bananas have become as staple as apples. The easiest snack to give to the kids, a breakfast-on-the-go if too early or no time to have a decent one, a basic smoothie filler. It’s always handy to have them in a bowl, if only they did not turn brown. As I hate any waste I always look for ways to use the ingredients and put them to a good use. Brown bananas are perfect for baking and even if you don’t feel like baking you can still seal them in a plastic bag and freeze for later. By the way, if you would like to try to turn your brown banana back to yellow please try this method. Most often we would use our brown bananas to bake the very simple yet delicious version of banana bread from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook.
However, the one below comes from a friend of mine, Aneta, who brought this gorgeous and chocolaty banana bread to a BBQ once and literally stole the party.
Chocolate Banana Bread
230 g flour
1/4 cup (30 g) dark cocoa powder
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup of chocolate chunks (I use any leftover chocolate – bars, coins, eggs)
1/2 cup of walnuts and/or pecans
3-4 ripe (yellow-brown, brownish or brown) bananas
2 large eggs – lightly beaten
1/2 cup (110 g) unsalted butter – melted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease a medium or large loaf pan with butter and sprinkle the bottom and sides with flour. On a baking tray toast the nuts for 10 minutes and then chop into chunks. In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients – flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt. In a separate bowl mash the bananas, then add all wet ingredients – the eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract. Once smoothly combined add the wet ingredients to the dry ones. Fold in the chocolate chunks and nuts. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan and make sure it’s evenly spread.
Place on the middle shelf and bake for 1 hour. Check with the toothpick, if it comes out clean the banana bread is ready. Leave on a wire rack to cool down a bit. It tastes great while it’s still warm but you can keep it for a few days. It is great to take to a picnic or to put in a lunchbox.