My kind of bridal
When Brandon and I got engaged, we knew that we wanted a summer wedding, but that was about it. I’ve never felt like a real “bridal” type, to tell you the truth. I’m not the sort of girl who knows from the get-go what her wedding will look like and what she will wear. I’m not very girly, as these things go. I love dresses and fashion and little details, but I don’t like much fuss. For as much as I love throwing a party, a wedding is a whole other animal. A big animal, for one. Like, 200-people-big. It’s not my usual dinner party for four. It’s fourteen months of planning so far, and we’re still counting.
Slowly but surely, week by week, we’ve schemed and daydreamed, crafting a celebration that feels like us. It hasn’t always been pretty - the biggest fight in our collective history has been over flowers, of all things, and I mean FLOWERS, people - but we’ve done it together. We wanted this wedding to be about both of us, and it is. We set a date. We scouted sites. We asked a lot of questions. We found a park by the water with a gorgeous view, and we spent a night last summer sleeping in our car, in a parking lot by some railroad tracks, in order to be the first to reserve it. [It’s a long story, trust me, involving another bride who gave us quite a scare and had a kiddie pool filled with rose petals.] This spring, I made a test run of our wedding cake. Brandon started brainstorming our wedding pickles. And last week, when our invitations arrived from the printer, he cooked dinner and poured wine while I folded and stuffed and addressed and stamped. Then we sat on the couch, sealed envelopes with the kitchen sponge, and ate cinnamon-sugar banana bread until we thought we would bust. I should mention, too, that the bread was still warm, and that there were chocolate chips involved. I’ve tried to do bridal my way, and so far, I really like it.
Now, I know, I know. I can hear you. The last thing this website needs, you say, is another banana baked-good recipe. But I have to ask you to humor me. If I could, I would bake banana bread at least twice a week. I would probably sleep with a loaf under my pillow. As it is, I have to practically sit on my hands to keep from doing so. The banana bread recipe for my book is long since tested and ready, so I have no excuse for baking this stuff. I’m a disaster. I know it. You can roll your eyes at me all you want. But I have to say, you won’t bat an eyelash once you’ve tasted this recipe. Ahem.
I stumbled upon this particular banana specimen a while ago, when Kickpleat, keeper of the blog Everybody Likes Sandwiches, first posted it. It’s a bit curious, seeing as it has no butter or oil or obvious fat of any kind, but I didn’t let that stop me, and I heartily suggest that you don’t either. It comes together in a snap - and in only one bowl, which means blessedly little clean-up - and it pays back, flavor-wise, in spades. Moistened with mashed banana, freckled with chocolate, and topped with a sandy, crackled crust of cinnamon and sugar, it has an open, chewy crumb that sits closer to a true bread than it does to cake. Unlike conventional banana breads, which are rich, dense, and tight-crumbed, this one has a lovely, light chew. It feels almost healthy in comparison, so long as you agree that chocolate and sugar can be described as such. In this house, we certainly think they can.
I’ve adapted the recipe a bit since I first started making it, reducing the sugar and cinnamon a touch, but otherwise, I’ve left it as Kickpleat intended. I owe her quite a debt of gratitude. Like a cinnamon-scented magic carpet of sorts, this bread sailed us easily through a long evening of envelope-sealing. Then, the next day, it fueled me through a second afternoon of folding and stuffing and addressing and stamping. Then, on Friday, a square of it accompanied me on a flight to San Francisco, where I was joined by four of my favorite ladies for a bachelorette weekend, a whirling 48 hours of frites, steak on the grill, Cowgirl Creamery cheese, Bi-Rite ice cream, picnics in Dolores Park, “Pin the Macho on the Man,” and a command lip-synch performance by yours truly, wearing hot pink lipstick and powder bronzer in some shade of terra cotta, in my aunt Tina’s dining room. I’m already planning another batch.
Something tells me that July 29 will be here in no time, so long as the banana supply holds up.
Banana Bread with Chocolate and Cinnamon Sugar
This lovely stuff comes together in less than an hour, including baking time. And unlike more conventional quick breads, which are best when allowed to cool fully before slicing, this one doesn’t suffer when it’s eaten warm. That makes it, in my book, a perfect last-minute dessert or afternoon treat. It’s a good one to have in the old repertoire.
Oh, and while we’re here, let’s talk about frozen bananas. I always keep a stash of them in the freezer, and I highly recommend it. I chuck them in there, peel and all, and when I want to use a few, I just pull them out, sit them in a bowl, and let them defrost at room temperature for a few hours. It doesn’t take long. You can then use them in place of fresh ripe bananas in any baked good, and they’re easier to mash, to boot. The only bad thing is that they look pretty nasty. Think wet, slippery, and slug-like, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
3 very ripe bananas (the size doesn’t much matter; medium to large works)
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter or spray an 8-inch square pan.
In a medium mixing bowl, mash the bananas well with a fork or potato masher. Add the eggs, and stir well to combine. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla, and stir to mix. Add ¾ cup of the chocolate chips, and stir briefly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter in the pan, and top with the remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Note: This bread, like many banana sweets, freezes beautifully. Sometimes I even like to eat frozen, cut into thick, cold, chewy slices. It’s the perfect snack for a hot summer afternoon.