Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gingerbread Banana Breakfast Loaf with Chocolate Chips

We all know and love banana bread, or at least I hope we all do (because it's the bomb!) But gingerbread doesn't get as much love as it should.

Maybe because it's brown, or maybe because its packed with spices that can be a little overwhelming to some. But mostly, I think it is because it's been pushed to the "holiday-time only" corner, along with candy canes and decorated sugar cookies.

Well today, I am putting both banana bread and gingerbread on the spotlight in one of the most delicious quickbreads I have ever made...Banana Gingerbread with Chocolate Chips!
I've actually made this twice, only days apart from each other, because it was that good. I rarely make a recipe over again unless it is spectacular!

This bread is super spiced up with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and molasses which gives it that trademark dark color and flavor. For moisture, it calls upon banana to give the bread a natural sweetness and a little "banana bread" type of flavor. In fact, besides the molasses this bread has no added sugar!

The first time I made it, I halved the recipe (as I often do) and made one short loaf in a normal loaf pan and one mini loaf. I could have just made ONE medium-sized loaf, but the mini loaf pan was just too cute to pass up!
 And it makes cute slices too (:
And since they're so small, I get to eat three :P
I was surprised how light and fluffy this loaf came out. I actually thought that perhaps I accidentally used AP flour instead whole wheat; seriously.
Bread from the first batch.
It was perfectly moist. Not too moist so that it falls apart on you and not too dry so that you need to spread something on top to eat it.

The funny thing is that when I made this the first time, I actually used half the amount of banana as I should have! I totally blanked and messed up when converting the recipe to be a half recipe. The good thing is that I used a pretty large banana and the bread seemed to have the perfect amount of moisture the way I made it anyway.

That's the annoying thing with recipes that just call for "bananas" instead of calling for cups of mashed banana (or whatever). Bananas can get pretty small and some huge ones are the size of two small bananas, so the measurements could be completely different!

The second time I made it, I used the measure of about a medium banana which is a little less than half a cup and around 120 grams (peeled). This time, the bread turned out more moist (no duh). The difference between the two was not huge because, like I said, I used a pretty large banana the first time I made it.
Second loaf
I actually almost liked it better with less moisture because this time it stayed a little too doughy.
IN THE END: I decided to go with an amount of banana in between the first batch and the second batch.

Other than that little change to the recipe, everything else is perfect just the way they are. I got the recipe originally from Healthy Food For Living,and she adapted her recipe from How Sweet It Is.

Banana Gingerbread with Chocolate Chips
Adapted from Healthy Food For Living
2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
1 heaping cup mashed, very ripe bananas
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt***
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with canola oil cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, mashed bananas, and molasses.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and yogurt.***Or you can use 1 cup buttermilk.

Add half of the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until almost fully moistened. Stir in half of the buttermilk and yogurt mixture. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients, followed by the remaining buttermilk and yogurt. Stir until just fully moistened. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top to create an even surface.

Sprinkle a handful of turbinado sugar over the top and bake at 350 degrees F until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to add about 1/2 cup or so of chopped toasted walnuts or pecans. This bread is pretty smooth so a little textural difference would only do it good! Hey, even a handful of chopped crystallized ginger might make it into the loaf next time I make it :P

The loaf is so beautiful, too. It rises perfectly!
And, of course, the sprinkle of sugar on top isn't necessary but it adds some crunch to the top and makes it look prettier (:
The bread is the perfect sweetness. Its not super sweet but definitely sweet enough so it doesn't need anything sweet (like jam) on top. I tried it with a smear of cream cheese and also with almond butter; both worked very well but honestly its best straight up!
Come on. Gingerbread with chocolate chips AND banana! Can it get any better than that??
 I like how this bread can please both adults and kids. No one will know that this bread is also abundantly good for them too :D

So please. Give gingerbread a chance. It's not just for the holidays!

<3 Carlyn

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