I had such good intentions of posting this gem of a recipe before we left for an extended trip to the states, um, a month ago. I know, it’s embarrassing. We had an amazing trip visiting family in Tennessee and California, but it was one of those trips where you get home and feel like you need one more week of vacation to recover. Seven flights with a toddler will do that to you, trust me. Life can be so cheeky, sometimes it just grips you and takes you down a different road for a little bit. Thankfully I managed to find the road back to my blog and I’m so happy to FINALLY share this recipe!
This banana bread was actually inspired by Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday).
And here’s a lovely picture of what our Pancake Day looked like! Lots of time on airplanes! I’m so lucky I have a very patient, laid back husband. This was the 4th time we’ve taken Scarlett to the States since she was born, and I was still a nervous wreck. And no, we don’t normally leave Scarlett in charge of our passports. I promise.
Anyways, back to the star of this post. Pancakes in the UK are very thin and crepe-like, not at all like their thicker, fluffier American cousins. I started planning our Pancake Day menu back in February (completely forgetting that I’d be on a plane and not in my own kitchen), and the one filling I MUST have is Nutella and banana. When I finally came to my senses, I was too far gone down the Nutella and banana path. I had to have this combination in some way or form.
Then I thought about banana bread. There are many recipes that suggest adding various forms of solid chocolate to a classic banana bread batter. However, I realized you rarely see recipes for banana bread that include cocoa powder IN the batter. The result is simply divine, albeit a little different. But that’s ok, different is very, very good in this case.
This is essentially a cross between a banana bread and a chocolate loaf cake. The loaf itself is dense, squidgy and soft. The chocolate flavor is pronounced, but not so intense that it masks the sweet banana. For me, this is a perfect marriage between chocolate and banana. And the topping. Oh, we have to talk about the topping. This is where the Nutella element is made complete. Toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips and Demerara sugar. The sugar adds extra crunch and it also caramelizes the hazelnuts as the banana bread bakes. I think the banana bread bar has definitely been raised with this topping. It looks stunning, and I must say, my taste testers were very impressed!
One of the things I love most about this recipe? The Food Processor method.
I don’t even think this is an official method, but who cares? This is one of those recipes where you throw everything in the food processor and let it do the work for you. Just make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature so they blend together easily. And please, pretty please don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl. This helps with the aforementioned blending. And above all else, don’t over process! You only need to process the ingredients until just blended. This doesn’t take long, no more than 15 – 30 seconds at each stage. The banana bread will be too dense and probably a bit chewy (gasp!) if the batter is over mixed. Only soft and squidgy will do here.
My favorite way to eat this? Slathered with Nutella. There’s just no other way. You won’t regret it.
Here’s the printable recipe!
Tip: You can replace the buttermilk with plain yoghurt or sour cream thinned with a little milk. To make your own buttermilk, add one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of low fat milk. Let the mixture rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
- All-purpose/plain flour, spooned and levelled: 1½ cups (210g)
- Baking soda: ½ teaspoon
- Fine sea salt: ¼ teaspoon
- Cocoa powder: ⅔ cup (70g)
- Unsalted butter at room temperature: ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons (95g)
- Light brown sugar: ½ cup, packed (110g)
- Granulated white sugar: ¾ cup (150g)
- Eggs: 2 large
- Pure vanilla extract: 1 tablespoon
- Bananas, mashed: 2 whole (approx 200g)
- Buttermilk: ¼ cup (60 ml)
- Boiling water: ⅓ cup (80 ml)
- Hazelnuts, peeled: ¼ cup (35g)
- Mini chocolate chips (optional): 2 tablespoons
- Demerara or raw sugar: 2 teaspoons
- Prepare the oven. Place a shelf in the lower third position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C/140 degrees C for a fan oven). Place a baking sheet on the shelf to preheat.
- Once the oven has preheated, place the hazelnuts in an even layer on the preheated baking sheet. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until lightly toasted. When you start to smell them, it's a good sign they're done! Transfer the hazelnuts to a small plate or bowl to cool and place the baking sheet back in the oven.
- Prepare the loaf tin. Carefully line a (9 x 4¼ inch and 2½ inch deep) loaf tin with foil that's been lightly greased with a bit of softened butter. Gently press the foil into the corners. You don't want any rips. Leave an overhang around the edges so the loaf can be easily pulled from the pan after baking.
- Fit a food processor with the steel blade and add the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, butter, both sugars, eggs and vanilla extract. Process until you have a smooth, glossy batter. This will take about 20 to 30 seconds.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the batter from the sides. Add the mashed bananas and buttermilk. Process again until the batter is smooth, about 10 to 15 seconds.
- Use the spatula to scrape down the sides again, then slowly pour the boiling water down the feed tube while the machine is running.
- Scrape down the sides one last time and give the batter a final mix with your spatula. Fill the loaf tin about two-thirds full with the chocolate batter.
- Top the batter with a healthy sprinkling of hazelnuts and mini chocolate chips, then evenly scatter the Demerara sugar on top.
- Place the loaf tin in the oven on the hot baking sheet and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. I always start to check for doneness at about 45 minutes. The banana bread will have risen and should be slightly cracked on top. Remove it from the oven when a skewer inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, with a few moist crumbs attached.
- Transfer the tin to a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Remove the banana bread from the tin using the foil overhang and let cool completely on the rack before gently removing the foil.