Anna Mintz is a Senior Publicist for Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, and is an editor for The Recipe Club. Originally from Atlanta, she now lives in New York City and loves exploring NYC’s restaurant scene and trying out new recipes in her own kitchen.
Banana bread. The perfect make-ahead baked good. A close friend of mine invited a group out to her family’s home in Sun Valley, Idaho for Presidents’ Day weekend, and since I always want to be a good guest, I thought I could be helpful and bring a breakfast treat for everyone to enjoy. Banana bread is well-known to be something that freezes beautifully, so this recipe for Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts from The Epicurious Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2012) by Tanya Steel and the Editors of Epicurious.com struck me as the perfect choice for me to make in advance and bring on the trip.
Toasted walnuts and chocolate chips add texture, but this recipe is super flexible and can easily be adapted to a baker’s whim. In fact, I made two versions: one with walnuts and one without. The chocolate-averse can substitute dried fruit—golden raisins or blueberries—for the chocolate chips; the nut-allergic, shredded coconut; the health-conscious, white whole-wheat flour.
The batter is pretty basic (butter, sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, salt, and of course — bananas), but the secret weapon of lemon juice helped to bring out all the subtle flavors of the bread, without making it taste like citrus.
Layering the batter and the chocolate chip/walnut mixture ensures that every bite of the banana bread will taste great. The finished product was a picture-perfect loaf that tasted just as good as it looked. This recipe from The Epicurious Cookbook was a definite success, and I was really glad that I thought to bake two loaves — the first was gone after the second morning of our trip!
Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts
Recipe from The Epicurious Cookbook
Yield: Makes 1 (9-inch) loaf
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9 by 5-inch metal loaf pan. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Combine the chocolate chips and walnuts in a small bowl; add 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture and toss to coat.
2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Beat in the mashed bananas, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat in flour mixture.
3. Spoon one-third of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of the chocolate-chip and nut mixture. Spoon another one-third of batter into the pan. Sprinkle with the remaining nut mixture. Cover with the remaining one-third batter. Run a knife through the batter in a zigzag pattern.
4. Bake the bread until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 5 minutes. Turn out onto a rack and cool.