I ought to have baking down by now. I have been cooking and baking for most of my life, and I left culinary school with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. I have churned out flawless soufflés and stunning French fruit tarts . . . and yet . . . sometimes I struggle with the simplest of baked goods.
Both because I find it completely irresistible on my plate and because I can never seem to get it right in the kitchen, banana bread has always been my kryptonite.
Whether developing my own recipes or attempting to follow a cookbook to the letter, something always went wrong in the execution. Too wet, too dry, too bland, too funky—you name it.
Recently, with a bunch of bananas steadily blackening on my counter, I decided to give it another go. And this time something magical happened: banana bread success!
Many banana bread recipes request buttermilk for its signature tang and acid content, but this go around I opted for something a little different. Pineapple juice stands in to lend sweetness, gentle acidity, and a fruity boost to the banana flavor in this delicious quick-bread.
Dark chocolate chips provide depth and contrast, but you could omit them or swap them out for ½ cup coarsely chopped nuts if desired.
I find that the batter cooks more evenly in a bundt pan versus a loaf pan or cake pan. Be sure to grease (I use butter) and flour the pan for best results.
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup dark chocolate chips
3 ripe (very spotty) bananas
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pineapple juice (unsweetened)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease and flour a standard-sized bundt pan, making sure to get into all the little nooks and crannies. Place the bundt pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in the chocolate chips, and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, use a fork to mash up the bananas with the brown sugar. Use a sturdy whisk to thoroughly incorporate the oil, pineapple juice, and vanilla into the banana mixture. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.
Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the banana mixture into the well, and stir until there are no visible pockets of dry ingredients. Avoid mixing too aggressively, which would deliver a tougher texture.
Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until the cake is golden-brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
Place the bundt pan on a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes, or until it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, before inverting onto the cooling rack to cool completely.