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A natural, Italian inspired approach to Banana Bread

By Jillian Bernardini - Aug 15, 2013 - 01:20 PM
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Through a quick summation of my personal baking statistics, I can attest to the fact that banana bread is my number one quick bread recipe.  Having a few extra bananas on the counter every other week, it's simple to mash them up with a few eggs, some flour, and a little baking powder and efficiently transform these handy ingredients into a rich breakfast loaf or small afternoon snack.  

Cinnamon is my spice of choice, and I'm always tempted to fold in some dark chocolate pieces just as I am about to portion the batter into pans- disclaimer: that temptation, always, always succeeds.  This time around, I felt inspired by a few different leftovers both on my countertop and in the fridge.  A small container of fresh ricotta cheese hidden behind some mozzarella was nearing its end.  Baking with ricotta in the past, I thought, this could add a lovely richness and a more moist crumb to my banana bread.

olive oil banana bread ricotta cheese

Measuring the ricotta out and setting it aside momentarily, my bottle of extra virgin olive oil catches within my peripheral vision.  The pastry team at work made a cake-loaf type breakfast treat that consisted of olive oil and chocolate pieces, so I thought this would be an amazing ingredient to mix into my banana bread repertoire.  I'm calling this my Italian spin on a classic American treat: Olive Oil Banana Bread with ricotta cheese and dark chocolate pieces. 

Compared to its banana bread counterparts that are laden with processed canola oil or shortening and other bland-chemicalized products, all you'll need is the smallest sliver of this rich snack cake to satisfy for breakfast or to tide you over til' dinner.  Dense, but still holds a nice crumb, and feel free to omit the chocolate completely or replace it with a different "treat yo'self" sweet.  Before you know it, olive oil will be sneaking its way into more of your baked goods and pastry recipes.  I like the sound of that.

Olive Oil Banana Bread with ricotta cheese and dark chocolate pieces

3Xbananas, very ripe, mashed
1CUPgranulated sugar
¾CUPolive oil
½CUPricotta cheese
2Xeggs, beaten
2CUPSall purpose flour
2TSPNSbaking powder
1TSPNsalt
2TSPNSvanilla extract
1CUPdark chocolate pieces or chunks
  1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter and flour two loaf pans, and set aside. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the bananas and sugar, whisking vigorously, and then add the olive oil and ricotta cheese. Stir for a few minutes until thoroughly combined. 
  3. Whisk in the eggs, and set aside. 
  4. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine and make a well in the center for pouring in the banana mixture. 
  5. Stir the vanilla extract into the banana mixture, then pour all of the wet ingredients into the center of the flour mixture. Using a spatula, fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix.
  6. Fold in the dark chocolate pieces, then evenly divide batter into the two prepared loaf pans. 
  7. Bake in the oven for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the loaf begins to brown too quickly, tent with foil. Let the loaves cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool an additional 20 minutes before slicing. Serve, or store in the fridge for 1 week. 



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