Marbled (Birthday) Banana Bread

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Recipe: Marbled Banana Bread, courtesy of Isa Chandra and Post Punk Kitchen
Soundtrack: Bill Callahan – Dream River; Lou Reed – New York; Smog – Supper

Yesterday I (Julie) turned 33. I celebrated as all responsible 33 year olds do; by drinking whiskey and baking banana bread.

The goal was to find a recipe both simple and delicious. I hopped onto Isa Chandra’s blog, The Post Punk Kitchen, and took a look at her Quick Breads. Bingo! Marbled Banana Bread. It looked like the Entenmann’s marbled loaf I used to eat for breakfast growing up on Long Island, only, of course, eight thousand times better. It also looked like my style of baking – a few ingredients, a few simple steps, and I’d be in banana bread land.

The first step was to mash three bananas into sweet, sweet banana goo. I went to town on three organic bananas I’d picked up from Wheatsville a couple of days ago. I beat in almond milk, vanilla, canola oil and then a bit less sugar than the recipe called for. I almost always cut sugar in recipes and so far, I’ve never missed it. The bananas tasted sweet enough on their own, so I took a chance and went with just under 1/2 cup sugar instead of 3/4 cup (which already seemed like a light load itself, because Isa is a smart baker).

I separated out a cup of the banana goo into its own bowl, then went on to mix three tablespoons of boiling water with three tablespoons of cocoa powder. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve bought cocoa powder and I expected to have to pay top dollar for some fancy, all natural powder that wouldn’t fill me up with crazy chemicals. But then it turned out Hershey’s Cocoa was just that – powdered cocoa and nothing more. Who knew! I mixed the chocolate with the reserved goo and here’s how it looked:

Now it was time to marble! I was excited to marble. Marbling was a new baking frontier for me. Now that I’m an experienced marbler (Marblier?), I can attest to how easy, fun and pretty the little method is.

Banana bread was one of the treats my mom used to make in our apartment kitchen, a feat of baking she brought with her from her North Dakota girlhood. I’ve never attempted it on my own as an adult. Oh my goodness, is this whole thing a sign of my 33-hood? Have I officially crossed some line into my Midwestern Mom’s lineage and will now bake on a regular basis because I’ve finally realized how not totally hard making something as grown up as Marbled Banana Bread actually is? Wow, y’all, I think this is going to be a big year. I can see it now. Crisps. Crumbles. Cobblers. Today I looked at a recipe for baked donuts! IT’S REALLY HAPPENING!

Whew, okay, existential tornado swept aside for a moment – let’s get back to celebrating this banana bread. Because look how it turned out:

It was rich, creamy, chocolatey, perfectly sweetened, and all around the best thing I have ever coaxed out of an oven. What I loved most (and repeated all day to coworkers who shared the bread with me, or at least what was left of the loaf by the time I’d eaten both birthday dessert and post-birthday breakfast) is that this thing was really made of bananas, not a ton of flour and sugar and whatever else your standard bread recipe calls for. So really, it was totally okay to eat more of this bread for lunch today. Right before we went to Sweet Ritual for conversation and ice cream…. Hey, this is what birthdays are for, right?

And for the record, the whiskey was Bullet Bourbon. And here’s a favorite Bill Callahan song to eat your next slice of banana bread by:

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