I apologize for this brief rant if you are not a soccer fan. Feel free to skip to the second paragraph. I absolutely adore World Cup season: the national pride, the camaraderie, the excuse to go to a bar before 9am. I have shared memorable hours of agony, elation and suspense with friends, family and total strangers. This season, however, has been shaping up rather differently. Each game is fraught with more crap officiating than I have previously had the displeasure to witness. And that include the Seahawks v. Steelers 2006 Super Bowl game. Penalties are called when no intended aggression is seen, while what would at other times draw a card goes on unchecked. But quite clearly the worst of it is the disallowed goals. The USA squeaked by with ours, but today Italy was not so fortunate (case in point: ball comes off Slovakian defender from inside the goal). And that is to say nothing of the “offside” call. My teeth are still grinding.
As I am wont to do, I tried to bring myself down to a healthier state of mind by baking. I have been nursing a craving for banana bread the past few weeks and this tasty recipe from Molly over at Orangette fit the bill perfectly. I ran into a brief snag when I realized I was clean out of baking soda, but had no problem swapping in baking powder (if you prefer to use baking soda, half the amount called for below). As I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, I also cut back on the sugar slightly to allow the banana a firmer hold.
This recipe comes together in a flash with just a single bowl dirtied. Within the hour I was engrossed in the comfort of its soft, chocolatey crumbs. The lack of any real fat and the exquisite chewy texture marks this as a true bread rather than a cake. The cinnamon creates interest throughout and the sugar on top crackles into a thin eggshell of spiced sweetness. I fully intend to have a loaf of this on hand for Saturday’s US v. Ghana match to calm my nerves and give my mouth something to do besides shout obscenities at the ref.
Banana Bread with Chocolate and Cinnamon Sugar
- 3 ripe bananas (don’t be afraid of the blackened, spotty ones!)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and butter a 9” bread pan. Plop the bananas into a medium sized bowl and mash well with a fork. Add the eggs and mix well. Sift in the flour, sugar, baking soda and cinnamon a bit at a time, mixing well. Stir in the vanilla and ¾ cup of the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into your bread pan and set aside while you mix together the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Distribute this mixture and the remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips evenly over the top of your batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester (or lacking that, a sharp knife) inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before trying to remove it. It is delicious served warm or cold, and especially with a glass of iced coffee. Yum.