It's funny - I wasn't even sure I was going to participate this week. It's been so all about blueberries here that baking a loaf of banana bread (no matter how pretty or chocolatey) just didn't seem to fit. But then there were these 3 bananas on the counter, past their prime, that the kids were no longer interested in...and so I took it as a sign and decided - last night - to definitely make this loaf.
So I started measuring out sugar and flour and so forth, and then, just out of curiosity, I took a peek at how long this would need to bake. Ah. An hour and twenty to an hour and thirty minutes. Okay. Change in plans. I'd get everything ready to go and then put it all together and bake it first thing in the morning, so we could have some with our coffee.
And yes, I admit it, the other reason I waited to bake was so I'd have better (natural) lighting for my pictures.
Anyway, I didn't get up as early as I'd planned. I blame the MLB schedule for part of it (Sox played the Royals IN Kansas City, so the game started an hour later than an East Coast game, and I had to watch the whole thing, frustrating as it was. Or at least listen to it while I typed and read email and edited photos from yesterday. And then there was Blur, who woke me up around 3:30 or so, meowing and meowing and meowing and licking my feet (ick) or my arm or whatever. I finally figured she was hungry so I got her some of her food. She doesn't like the kittens' food, but the kittens DO like her food and if they eat it, well, let's just say their little digestive systems can't quite handle it yet. So I don't leave the adult food out. Anyway, after some nice grown-up kibble, Blur settled down and let me do the same. (My husband sleeps - or "sleeps" - through all this excitement.)
Excuses over - here's what was waiting for me when I entered the kitchen this morning:
Okay, except for the half cup of milk. I poured that this morning. It didn't sit out overnight. And the blender has nothing to do with this recipe. It was just...there. Doing the equivalent of waving wildly from the seats behind home plate and talking excitedly to friends on its' cell phone because it knows it's on camera.
But anyway - it was so nice to start the morning like that. I turned the oven on, greased and floured my loaf pan, and I was ready to go.
While my butter and sugars were whirring around in the mixing bowl, I melted my chocolate and stirred in the butter.
I added my eggs and vanilla into the butter/sugars mixture and yep, just like Dorie promised, the mixture looked curdled. I added half the flour mixture, then the milk, and finally the rest of the flour mixture.
And then the banana/citrus/rum mixture. And then I divided the batter into two nearly equal portions, and mixed the melted chocolate into the smaller portion.
Now, in the "Playing Around" section for this recipe, Dorie suggests adding some toasted pecans to either portion of batter. Sounded good to me, only I didn't have any pecans in the house, so I toasted some sliced almonds instead. And I portioned out come shredded coconut, too.
Why? For balance. Symmetry. If one portion of batter was going to have added texture, the other side had to as well. Because I'm just like that. And - I thought all these flavors would play nicely together.
So I stirred the almonds into the chocolate...
and the coconut into the plain portion...
and then I poured small alternating amounts of the batters into my loaf pan...
until the bowls were scraped clean.
I swirled a knife through the batter just once -
and then put it in the oven to bake.
On top of an insulated baking sheet.
Which, I should know by now, is something I should NOT do, even though Dorie's got it in the directions. Because whenever I do, my bread or other baked item doesn't cook through as well as it should. And I KNOW this, and yet...and yet...I put my loaf pan on the insulated baking sheet anyway.
I baked the loaf for an hour and a half, and it smelled wonderful. An hour and a half was a long wait.
But finally the knife came out clean and the pan came out of the oven.
Gorgeous. A little while after this picture was taken, the loaf had a permanent dent in the center from my nose as I inhaled and inhaled repeatedly while it cooled. Okay, not really. But it smelled SO good.
After fifteen minutes, I ran a knife along the sides of the pan and inverted the bread onto a cooling rack.
And this is what it looked like at that point:
Yeah. Not so pretty any more, huh?
Perhaps I should have baked it longer, but it didn't seem necessary at the time. Or maybe I could have cooled it longer. Or - I could (and should) have left my insulated baking sheet in the drawer where it belonged.
Oh well. It still looked good from the top, so I flipped it back over to cool some more while Bill made coffee.
Dorie's instructions say to let the loaf cool to room temperature before slicing, but when the coffee was ready, I got my big serrated knife and started slicing.
The bread was still hot inside and very moist, but it all held together well and looked nicely marbled (to me, anyway). I sliced a couple of pieces and put them on a plate so I could take my finished product photos and then allow Bill to eat.
And of course, I had to sample the goods as well.
Yum. All the flavors, as I'd hoped, worked well together, and I liked the little bits of crunch from the almonds and the slight chewiness of the coconut. Now, when I make banana bread, I like to mix in chocolate chips, so I knew I'd like the blend of banana and chocolate. And I did - the chocolate portion was deep and dark and more "grown up" than chocolate chips. Coffee was a perfect accompaniment.
So thank you to Ashlee for choosing this recipe - it's definitely a keeper. And to see more fine examples of this delicious Black and White Banana Loaf, head over to the Tuesdays With Dorie website and start clicking - there are over oh, eighty bazillion members now, so maybe you should first MAKE a loaf of this bread, brew a big pot of coffee, and settle back in your seat. It's going to take some time to check out so many sites. But, like waiting for this cake to bake, it'll be well worth it.