Banana-Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips

Dave’s mom Lorna + brother Bill, newborn

When my husband Dave was a kid, he tells me there were nearly always bananas in the house. With three growing and active boys, there was likely to be a big bunch, I’m guessing. Boys do eat. But no matter who hankered for a banana or how badly, if there were 3 bananas left, no one touched them. Because from an early age, they all knew it took 3 bananas to make their mom’s banana bread. And they wanted banana bread. And who doesn’t? It’s a great family story and most likely a common one. (Do you have a banana bread story?)

Jump to Recipe

Believe it or not, I still have the recipe from the 70’s. If you want a simpler banana bread, this one is made with Bisquick. I’m guessing you’d have this recipe memorized after a few times. Read through:

So is a cup of mashed banana three bananas? Hm. I looked it up. It is.

Covid-Tide found quite a few people who never baked before stirring together many sorts of goodies, but a lot of them were tossing banana bread into the oven on a regular basis. Sourdough seemed tricky to a novice baker and no one wanted to waste bananas — or any thing else for that matter. (SIL Julie made banana bread in a casserole dish as she had no loaf pan, having downsized it to Good Will before the last move. Bread worked and ate!) Banana bread is nearly foolproof and everyone likes it. You can eat it for breakfast, lunch, snack, or for an after dinner treat. It keeps and travels or freezes well. I even jumped on the bandwagon and healthied-up my favorite Kona Inn Banana Bread, which was originally full of white flour, a ton of sugar, along with a cup of shortening. The resulting loaf was my Blueberry Banana Bread, which you can read all up about here or bake tomorrow!

Last week I, like Dave’s mom, found myself with the proverbial 3 bananas one afternoon but also had a few zucchini left from the last COSTCO run. (My own banana bread, btw, uses 6 bananas, which is how today’s version came to contain zucchini.) I used some but not all of it in the the CREAMY ZUCCHINI-WILD RICE CHOWDER you read about (or didn’t) in the last post. Not too late and it makes a lovely dinner.

Because what I do is I cook and know things, I figured there was a way to make a banana-zucchini bread…why wouldn’t that work? And if it wasn’t perfect, we’d still eat it. We’re like that. It has to be pretty bad for us to pitch anything into the garbage. It’s not that we’re cheap, but we’re not wasteful — and what won’t a big pat of soft butter fix anyway? So I added it all up using my Blueberry-Banana bread as a template and keeping all the healthy, happy ingredients intact in the recipe (whole wheat flour for half the white; applesauce for half of the fat and butter instead of shortening; cornmeal because I like cornmeal). Yes, I figured it all out on paper before I tried it. Not that that’s any guarantee, but sometimes it pays to think stuff out ahead — more so for baking than for cooking, where you can often punt and still eat dinner on time. Unless you’re a terribly accomplished baker, you might push and pull a tiny little when baking, but must be particularly careful with leavening and amounts of wet and dry ingredients. (For instance, you might cut the sugar down a bit in some things, but cut it down too much and the resulting baked good could be pale, dry, flat and/or tasteless, to say nothing of bitter.) Some say cooking is an art and baking is a science; it could be so, but it might not be true.

I tossed the bananas and the other “wet” ingredients (which includes sugar as it melts and does help make the bread moist and tender–see above) into the food processor because I like the food processor to do anything it can; I paid enough for it and I’m lazy. You could accomplish the same thing with a potato masher and wooden spoon or rubber spatula or even only a wooden spoon given a strong arm and constitution and not have to wash the food processor. (Electric mixer works here, too.) Then, because the food processor might over mix the wet and dry ingredients (a big no-no in quick breads or muffins resulting in a tough outcome), I scraped it into a big bowl to…

…add the zucchini, dry ingredients, and just a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips tossed with flour (or they’ll all sink) for love’s sake. Before I knew what I’d done, the bread was in the oven and I was eagerly waiting the end result. It would be a while because the bread needed to bake about an hour and it had to cool at least an hour after that, if not two. You want a loaf, not a crumbly mess. (You might cut into yours 15 minutes after it comes out and feel like it’s worth it. I’ve no problem with you doing that, but this about what I do and I have patience. Sometimes.)

This bread turned out tender, not-too-sweet, banana-y without being overly banana-y, and had just enough chocolate to make you and me happy. Dave was building a house for Habitat for Humanity all day, but when he got home, I had a couple of pieces wrapped up on a plate for him to try. (You can’t leave any bread out 10 minutes at altitude unless you want toast.) “This is REALLY GOOD!” he said. High praise from the man who’ll eat nearly anything but tuna noodle casserole yet doesn’t throw compliments around willy nilly either. I appreciate that in a fellow.

Grandma Mac’s Zucchini Bread or What Memories are in Your Recipe Collection?

Even if you don’t have blackening bananas and beaucoup zucchini, but like the idea of changing up YOUR banana or zucchini bread (and maybe your banana bread or zucchini bread story, too) it’s worth it to grab these ingredients next time you’re at the store and then you, too, can try this:

Banana-Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips

A sweet summer riff on my Blueberry-Banana Bread. This tasty treat comes together quickly using a food processor to mash the bananas with the liquid ingredients, but is easy enough to accomplish with a potato masher and wooden spoon. Healthier than many a tea bread, I've used half whole wheat flour; some corn meal; and applesauce in place of half of the butter! Do grate the zucchini by hand (less liquid that way) and squeeze it as dry as possible with paper towels before adding it to the mixture.
Makes one 9x5x3 loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour + 1 teaspoon you’ll use to stir into the chocolate chips later on
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 generous teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large really ripe bananas, peeled
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini-squeeze out moisture in a small bowl with paper towels after shredding and measure at that point
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (could sub chopped nuts)

Instructions

  • Grease and flour a 9x5x3 baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack at center.
  • Mix the dry ingredients (flours, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt) in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Add the bananas, eggs, sugar, butter, and applesauce to the bowl of food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse several times until the mixture is well-combined, but thick and chunky; it needn’t be smooth.
  • Scrape the banana mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients along with the squeezed-dry zucchini and briefly mix. In a cup, stir together the chocolate chips with the reserved teaspoon of flour. Add the floured chocolate chips to the bowl and mix until just barely combined. Do not overmix.
  • Spoon the bread mixture evenly into prepared pan, tapping the pan on the counter to settle the batter and then smoothing the top. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet to avoid overbaking the bottom of the bread. Bake 60-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted at the center of the bread comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes. Holding the sides of the pan with potholders or a towel, gently but firmly bang the bottom of the pan onto a board or counter. If the bread hasn't loosened, run a thin knife around the sides of the pan. Turn out onto a rack and cool completely–at least an hour or two.
    STORAGE: Wrap well with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for 1-2 days or refrigerate for a week. If you're in a really warm, humid climate, you might want to refrigerate your bread soon after it's cool. FREEZING: Wrap well first in plastic wrap and then in foil and freeze for up to 3 months.

Notes

Inspiration from Kona Inn Banana Bread.
Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2021. All rights reserved.


HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY BREAD IS DONE, BUT NOT OVERBAKED? Start with thorough preparation. 1. Make sure your oven temperature is correct. You'll need an oven thermometer (good investment) or you can check it with a little sugar. 2. Place your pan on a rimmed baking sheet when baking bread. This will help insure the bottom of the bread doesn't overbake or burn. 3.  Turn the pan around midway through the baking time to encourage even baking. 4. Start testing for doneness at 50 minutes.  Bread is done when a wooden or metal skewer comes out clean or with only a few crumbs. If you can still see wet batter in the cracks on top of the bread, give it 5 more minutes and test again.  6. There should be a little shrinking around the edges of the bread when it's done.  In order for the center to be baked through, there will be a certain amount of crust. That's the favorite part for many people! 7. You can also use an instant-read thermometer.  It should read 200 - 205 degrees Fahrenheit  when the bread is done (except at the very top of the bread where it's exposed to air).

TIPS:

CHANGE IT UP/INFO:

REDUCING FOOD/OTHER WASTE WITH THIS RECIPE:

  • By baking a loaf of banana-zucchini bread, I think you’re already reducing food waste by not pitching the overly ripe bananas — which can also be peeled, placed in a container, and frozen for another time, too. Good on you.
  • Leftover shredded zucchini? Make my zucchini cakes. Lovely topped with salmon or fried eggs or all alone with sliced tomatoes for dinner! You can freeze shredded zucchini. More zucchini ideas here.
  • Follow recipe directions for storage and save some bread for another day if you’re not going to eat it all within a few days. Or share some with a neighbor or friend who doesn’t bake.
  • This isn’t for everyone, but I buy the small, individual containers of unsweetened applesauce (1/2 cup each) as I usually only need a little bit at a time for granola or quick bread baking. If I buy a jar of applesauce, it molds before I can use it.

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Thanks for keeping me company in the kitchen this week! I hope you’re cooking well. Here are a few highlights from up on the mesa:

LIFE GOES ON:

ABOVE: We’re lucky enough to have golden eagles in our neighborhood on a regular basis and this might be one of those. That said, it could be a hawk (we’re known to lose a few animals or birds every year to those, too). Just too high for me to be terribly sure, but enjoyable enough to watch for several minutes in the gorgeous sky. The golden eagles often hunt/fly in pairs, but from our view up here, the hawks are usually single unless parents are teaching fledglings to hunt.

BELOW: The most color we have in the yard itself all year long–and this photo doesn’t do it justice. Gardening in Colorado is rewarding, but not easy. This is our berm, a xeriscape perennial garden with built in sprinklers. Most years we are on water rationing of some sort. 2021 finds us able to water our postage-sized lawn and flower beds 3 times per week before 10 am or after 6pm. Watering by hand is allowed at other times and I’m grateful for that, though I save every bit of kitchen water I can and add it to the pots or even to the grass. Pasta water, for instance, is cooled and saved for later. ABOVE/RIGHT: We were beyond thankful for a stunningly beautiful, quick-moving rainstorm Sunday afternoon. Our grass may live until October after all. While we had a few less-smoky days, today (Monday, August 16, 2021) there is again smoke in our skies as the wildfires continue west of us. Do your rain dance.

Worth the read: Small Towns Grow Desperate for Water in California/NYT

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Had a bear in our yard Saturday night as we shared dinner on the deck with dear friends Tony and Jeanne. Didn’t have my phone to get a photo, more’s the pity. (Photo at left taken by a neighbor a couple of years back. Looked like this same guy. Guessing a male as there were no cubs.) Gotta whistle before you walk outside at night in the summer around here.

Grinning and bearing it, but still having sweet dreams,

Alyce

Excellent listening while your bread bakes: Hope Comes/THE BENGSONS

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