If you notice my own recipe title, you may choose to call me a hypocrite. That's kind of valid in this case, but hear me out.
Banana bread is one of those sweets that most Americans have grown up eating. Everybody has their own "secret" family recipe they swear by, and the variations on the basic formula are endless. However, my parents don't bake at all, ever, so I've spent the past seven years trying to find my perfect banana bread recipe. This is soft, fluffy, incredibly moist, and studded with slivers of dark chocolate (hi there, in case we haven't met, chocolate is kind of a necessity in my kitchen).
Thanks to a college road trip that took me and my dad through Boston, we stumbled across Flour Bakery and Cafe. (Okay, I won't lie to you, I googled "best bakery in Boston.") The place is adorable and wonderful and full of delicious pastries, and it's because of Joanne Chang's beautiful book that I got my hands on this recipe. So thank you, Flour, for helping me create my own family tradition.
(slightly adapted from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe)
1 2/3 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (230 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (100 grams) canola or other flavourless oil
3 1/2 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 1/2 cups or 340 grams mashed bananas)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate disks, roughly chopped (or chop up a dark chocolate bar)
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, or a handheld mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes for the stand mixer, and about 8 minutes for a handheld mixer; or until light and fluffy.
With the machine on low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Do not pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn't deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding the oil should take about 1 minute.
Add the bananas, creme fraiche/sour cream, and vanilla, then continue to mix on low speed just until combined.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and chocolate just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible and the chocolate should be evenly distributed.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until golden brown on top and the cake springs back when you press it. If your finger sinks when you poke the bread, it needs to bake a little longer.
Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes; flip bread out of pan and allow to cool completely before slicing.
(Note: I feel that I should follow standard recipe rules and advise waiting until this has come to room temperature to taste it. However, if you were to accidentally have a piece warm out of the oven, I'd be pretty proud.)