Sarah's Banana Bread

I found a baking buddy! Sarah and I met through mutual friends, and while at first I was simply impressed by her spirit and optimistic attitude, I later discovered that she also shares the same love for cooking and baking that I do--a kindred spirit! Hence, the next few recipes are inspired by or are directly from her, beginning with an amazing chocolate chip banana bread.

Here is Sarah's list of ingredients:
2 cups brown rice flour (*I used regular bread flour, since I could not find this)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt (you can also substitute Greek yogurt for additional nutritional value)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or honey is good if you're out)
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

 All ingredients

 Mashed bananas!

Now, when the recipe calls for "very ripe" bananas, it means very ripe-like brown all over. I can tell you from experience that you cannot force bananas to ripen by glaring at them, no matter how hard you try. So try to buy bananas that are already at least yellow, or you will be waiting a few days for your banana bread. Since my bananas were not ready yet, and I was banana-bread obsessed for those few days, I performed several unnecessary Google searches about bananas and can tell you why they should be brown. Apparently, the riper the banana gets, the more sugar it releases, making for a sweeter bread. And, you know...it's easier to mash a riper banana. WARNING NOTE: Do NOT place your bananas near other fruits while you are waiting for them to ripen. I lost three peaches with a lot of potential yumminess that way (bananas release a gas which causes other fruits to ripen faster). At this point, I could also tell you all the facts I learned from Shark Week (I spent some quality time with Google and the Discovery Channel this week), but I will spare you.

So, on to the baking (instructions from Sarah)!

Adjust a rack to the lower middle position of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, yogurt, eggs, melted butter and vanilla, mixing well.

Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry, just to blend--do not over mix. Add in the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 50-60 minutes (most breads will take the full hour). Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out and let cool completely. (Or at least for 10 minutes if you really can't wait any longer :))

This was my first attempt at baking bread, and it was hugely successful--the hubby, who hates bananas, actually enjoyed the banana bread, and since he's my litmus test, I was fairly proud. It is also tasty microwaved for about 20 seconds and buttered (and I intend to use stale pieces--if the bread lasts that long--to make banana bread french toast in the future). Mmmm! Thanks again, Sarah, and to everyone else: enjoy!

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