Well, despite the universe's attempts to totally overwhelm me, I am still here. I've gotten a bit tunnel vision-y of late as I try to get everything I need from the schools I'm working with before the term ends and the madness of Christmas descends. I've changed the design of my project quite significantly and that meant that following half term I had a lot of work to do in terms of focussing in on what I needed and then trying to get it. I've been interviewing, I've spent time in the kitchens and this week I'm focus grouping with children. I'm terribly nervous about the whole thing (children can be scary!) and I'm trying to go prepared. Basically that entails going over in my mind what I'm trying to achieve - getting them to talk about food and draw a few things on a sheet - and I've spent a mini fortune on crafts and paints and coloured markers so at the very least the time spent will be fun. Well, I think it will be fun. Heavens knows what the kids will think.
And because I've been focussed on my work I haven't really been getting up to much baking. It also doesn't help that it is getting dark so early (4.30pm now!) and then I can't shoot anything anyway because I like to use natural light in the photographs. Oh the dilemmas of the end of the year. But, this Sunday I finally got around to doing something. I woke up quite early (all these 6am starts are slowly slowly adjusting my body clock) and started to patter about in the kitchen and, before I had time to get distracted by anything, I made up some banana bread. I've had some bananas frozen for a while now and freezer space is becoming an issue (and good freezer rules say you shouldn't keep anything over three months anyway) so I thought I'd whip some up which I can then take with me on the early mornings for breakfast. Yes, I am a firm believer in chocolate for breakfast - particularly if you have to be up hours before the sun.
This recipe is adapted from Baked Elements. I got all excited because their recipe calls for a cup of crunchy peanut butter. Then I looked in the cupboard and found that I didn't have any peanut butter. (I think this might be a first.) Rather than get dissuaded, I decided to forge ahead with out it. I don't feel like the end result is missing anything frankly. It's a dense and chocolate filled bread that happens to taste of banana although I would argue the banana is merely a vehicle for the chocolate. I also substituted in some wholemeal flour (to make it healthier obviously) and used golden sugar and golden caster sugar rather than regular sugar. I also used sour cream rather than milk. Finally I used cobnut oil in place of a plainer oil because I thought the hazelnut flavour would come through. To be honest I can't say the flavour is very strong. But I thought I'd better use the cobnut oil as it is verging on becoming one of those things that lives in the cupboard for an eternity and stares at you accusingly whenever you open the cupboard door.
Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips
Adapted from Baked Elements
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp wholemeal flour
1/2 cup golden sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 generous cup mashed bananas (about 3)
1/2 cup cobnut oil
1/4 cup sour cream
115g dark chocolate (70%)
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a loaf tin with butter and dust it with flour. Shake out the excess flour.
Mix together the flours, sugars, salt and bicarb and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix together the mashed bananas, oil, eggs and soured cream.
Chop the chocolate into pieces and toss in with the dry ingredients.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredient mixture and add in the liquids.
Fold everything together until combined.
Pour into the loaf tin and bake for about one hour. The cake is done when it springs back to the touch. If you feel like it is getting too dark on top, cover it with a little tin foil.
Leave to cool for 15 minutes in the in before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
Slice and eat.