Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate and Pecans

Though it has been a relatively mild summer in Los Angeles, the heat from the oven still manages to escalate the temperature in my kitchen to barely tolerable levels. But it is worth it. The smell of fresh banana bread radiating from the oven - warm, summery, and sweet - was the perfect breakfast pick-me-up.

It was a sorely needed pick-me-up.

I woke up at 4am that night/morning to cram for my physics midterm. I had just taken a midterm on 3 hours of sleep, during which I felt like I had a hangover from lack of sleep.  It was a bad case of unforeseen circumstances the day before my midterm and procrastination.


Not getting enough sleep has been a common theme in my life since high school. There's just too much to do and not enough time. At the moment, I'm having a big dilemma over my fall schedule. I want to continue working as an athletic trainer for the men's water polo team, continue working at the dental school library, work as a front office receptionist at a plastic surgeon's office (the pay is pretty good), volunteer at St. John's clinic, start researching with a dental school faculty using saliva as a diagnostic tool, compete with the ultimate frisbee team, take an introduction to guitar course, and continue as Vice President of the pre-dental honor society.


The problem is that with 18 units scheduled in the fall semester, I can realistically only participate in 4 out of the 7 extracurriculars. So which ones should I pare down?


On a simpler note, I bought three bananas from the market last week. I let them sit in my room for a week to mature until they became soft, speckly, and somewhat unsightly. But the riper the banana, the most flavorful and sweet the resulting bread is.

There are a few secrets to good banana bread. For one, mash the bananas well (by hand). Also, adding yogurt to the recipe softens and moistens the banana bread. In addition, by mixing the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately then combining the two afterwards, the resulting banana bread had a nice moist, crumbly texture. Mmmm!


Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate and Pecans

Adapted from: Cook's Illustrated The New Best Recipe
Serving Size: one 9-inch loaf

Ingredients
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 3/4 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I followed the original recipe and used 3/4 cup of sugar, only to find my banana bread to be extremely sweet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 very ripe, soft, speckled bananas mashed well (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 6 tablespoon (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled.
  • A handful of rolled oats, for sprinkling.

Directions
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Grease the bottom and sides of the 9 by 5-inch loaf pan then dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
  4. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and pecans together in a large bowl.
  5. In another bowl, mash the bananas. Then, mix the yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla into the bananas.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold with a rubber spatula. Combine until the batter looks thick and chunky / until the dry ingredients have been moistened. Do not overmix.
  7. Add the dark chocolate chips.
  8. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  9. Sprinkled a handful of rolled oats onto the top of the batter.
  10. Bake for approximately 45 minutes - the loaf should be golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  11. Cool the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack.



Song of the Day
I Would Do Anything For You - Foster the People


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