Dog Versus Banana Bread
Find out who wins in this amazing story about a battle of the wills between a girl who simply wants to enjoy a movie and an agile dog looking for adventure, while a loaf of banana bread gets caught in the middle. Also discover a fabulous recipe for making chocolate chunk toasted walnut banana bread along the way.
Our first house was a small ranch built in the 1940s. What sold us on it was the large, eat-in kitchen one of the previous owners had built on as an addition. Shortly after moving in, we also bought a new gas oven and refrigerator, which stood proudly, side-by-side in that kitchen.
One weekend morning, I wandered into the kitchen and found some highly ripened bananas. I baked a loaf of banana bread in my new oven and placed it on a hot mitt on top of the new refrigerator to cool.
Later that afternoon, we went to a movie. When we returned home, the 35-pound, terrier mix we adopted from the pound several months earlier happily greeted us at the door as if nothing were out of the ordinary.
When we walked into the kitchen, we were greeted by a glass baking dish and loaf of banana bread in the middle of the floor. Then I looked at our beautiful new gas stove. It had a big chip in the enamel finish on top where the dish hit.
Fortunately, the glass dish hadn’t broken, and the dog wasn’t injured. We also were lucky he didn’t kick on the burners when he jumped on the stove to get the bread. For some reason, he hadn’t eaten the banana bread either. Maybe it wasn’t good, or the crash spooked him.
The Moral of the Story
Always let your banana bread cool in a safe place (and out of the reach of pets and children).
About the Recipe
This is not the same recipe I made the day of the Dog versus Banana Bread incident. It is one from a family cookbook that my mother-in-law gave me one Christmas, a few years later. The book included a hand-written recipe for banana bread from Ken’s great aunt, Maude. I’m not sure where Maude got the recipe, but she had a few twists in it I found interesting:
- Maude used shortening instead of butter. I think this makes the bread less greasy.
- Maude dissolved the baking soda in warm water before adding it to the batter. I think this is why this particular banana bread rises so much higher than others I’ve tried.
I also added a few twists of my own:
- Maude used a whole cup of white sugar. I reduced the white sugar by half and added half a cup of brown sugar. I got the idea from a Banana Banana Bread recipe on Allrecipes. I think it gives the bread a richer flavor.
- Maude didn’t specify what kind of nuts to use. I used walnuts that I had toasted in butter in my cast iron skillet.
- Maude didn’t add any chocolate. I think everything in life is better with chocolate. So, I chopped up five Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares and added them to the batter with the nuts.
The Cast of Characters
Bananas, Ghirardelli dark chocolate, and walnuts are the stars of this show. For the complete list of ingredients, skip ahead to the recipe.
Before you begin, grease your loaf pan, and preheat the oven. If using a glass pan, preheat to 330. If using a tin pan, preheat to 320.
Pour the batter into a loaf pan, and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- About the chocolate: I used Ghirardelli dark chocolate, only because I am hooked on it since our last trip to San Francisco. You can use whatever chocolate you like.
- About the pan and the cooking temperature: Maude had noted the recipe worked best in a tin pan, and instructed baking it at 320 degrees. I have a glass pan, so I adjusted the temperature to 330 degrees.
- About the mixing: Aunt Maude mixed the batter by hand, using only a potato masher, wooden spoon and a lot of elbow grease. I debated on using my stand mixer, but opted to try it Aunt Maude’s way by hand. It wasn’t hard, but I bet you could use a stand mixer too.
The Recipe: Chocolate Chunk Toasted Walnut Banana Bread Recipe
3 medium bananas
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 well-beaten eggs
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon of warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
5 Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares with 60% cacao (0.375 ounces each), chopped
- Grease loaf pan, and preheat the oven to 330 degrees if using a glass loaf pan or 320 if using a tin one.
- Mash the bananas, shortening and sugars with a potato masher, and then beat by hand with a wooden spoon until creamy.
- Stir the beaten eggs into the batter.
- Sift together the flour and salt, and stir into the batter about a half cup at a time.
- Add the baking soda dissolved in water, vanilla, toasted nuts and chopped chocolate to the batter. Stir until all the ingredients are mixed well together. Then pour into loaf pan.
- Bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack for about 30-60 minutes, and keep an eagle eye on any nearby pets.