Emptying the Fruit Bowl. Banana Bread with Choc Chunks and a Pecan Streusel Topping

What to do with bananas fast approaching their use by date? I glanced at the fruit bowl this morning and the bananas were looking decidedly ripe. There were no takers for smoothies, and we had a freezer stocked with  banana paletas. A perfect opportunity to resurrect my banana bread recipe, but this time I was going to ask  my 12-year-old daughter to bake it. Now while my daughter likes to eat banana bread; especially this version studded with dark chocolate chunks and topped with a pecan streusel, she has never attempted to bake it before. Sure she has had dibs on licking the bowl, and hovered anxiously while I have mixed up the batter – it really is survival of the fittest when you have siblings to contend with – but she was up for the challenge.

This was also going to be an interesting exercise to see whether the recipe actually works and is easy to follow.  It started life over 10 years ago as Bill Granger’s Choc Banana Bread. I never seemed to have chocolate chips in the pantry when I needed them so I started to substitute dark chocolate chunks. There is always a block of dark chocolate in my house.  A few years ago I thought it would be interesting to add a streusel topping. Pecans go well with banana and chocolate so another amendment was made.

If you ever open up one of my recipe books you will see scribbled comments and annotations, ingredients crossed out and substituted, preparation methods queried and expanded upon.  To make it an even playing field I typed up a clean version of the recipe. My husband often complains that I rarely let him into the kitchen, and when I do totally take over.  So I made the decision that I would remove myself from the house. I gave my daughter the recipe, told her she could phone me with any questions, and set off for a walk around Centennial Park.

As you can see from the photo the banana bread was a success. I only fielded one phone call while I was out – did the butter in the streusel topping have to be chilled or softened? I am very proud of my little girl’s efforts. Now all I have to do is tell her I am about to write about it on my blog!

Banana Bread with Choc Chunks and a Pecan Streusel Topping

Makes 8 slices

2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
4 ripe bananas mashed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
180 gm block of dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

For the Streusel Topping

35g butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons pecans, chopped
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Preheat oven to 180C

For the Streusel Topping
Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a small bow, then add pecans and stir to combine.  Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips  until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Set aside.

For the Banana Bread
Sift flour and baking powder in a large bowl.

Mix the butter, sugar, mashed banana, eggs, vanilla extract and chocolate in a separate
bowl. Add to the dry ingredients, and stir to combine being careful not to overmix.

Pour the batter into a greased and lined loaf tin, and sprinkle with streusel topping, pressing lightly. Don’t press it down too firmly or it will become flat and dense.

Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes in 180C oven, or until the bread is cooked when tested with a skewer. If streusel mixture looks like it is browning too quickly, cover with a sheet of  baking foil.

Leave to cool in tin for five minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

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