Eat Well: Banana (Bread) Republic

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
I just got home from the amazing Maisonnette with a bag full of yummy fabric to transform into curtains and crib bumpers. After spending a weekend in LA with Rebecca and seeing her vision for the babies’ room, I can hardly wait to sit down to my machine and start sewing. I will keep you posted as my creations come alive and perhaps do a tutorial. But even though the fabric is beyond delicious, you can’t eat it. So, back to food!

I must say, I am a tad bit confused as to how heirloom-tomato-babies can transform into banana-babies in one week. The size and shape seem a little disparate to me. Nevertheless, I'm going with this, so let’s talk about bananas!

I LOVE bananas. When I come home starving for lunch, the first thing I do is grab a banana and eat it. Only after finishing it can I think about making my lunch. There is no snack that is more perfectly packaged by nature. It’s so easy to throw a banana in your purse or diaper bag to stave off hunger pangs. But bananas are also fun to cook with. (ED: GGC, here. I feel the same way about watermelons. When I'm hungry, this first thing I do is grab an entire watermelon and eat the entire thing with a medium-sized spoon.)

Growing up, my mother often made caramelized bananas and rum. She would halve two bananas, lay them in a buttered baking dish, sprinkle them with brown sugar, pour some good quality rum around them, and bake them at 350 until brown and gooey. She served them warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. There are many variations of this simple recipe. I like this one, too.

When I went to college in the 70’s, the UCSD snack bar offered a banana and peanut butter sandwich and it became my favorite lunch. All it consisted of was peanut butter spread on a whole grain roll topped with a layer of banana slices and alfalfa sprouts. Ever since then, I have loved the combination of peanut butter (or other nut butters) and bananas. For years I would cover a banana with nut butter and then roll it in sunflower seeds for a light lunch or snack. Now I prefer to slice the banana, drizzle it with a few tablespoons of tahini and perhaps a little honey, and sprinkle it with nuts or seeds.
And then, of course, there is banana bread. Great recipes for banana bread abound and I’m sure you all have a favorite one. When Rachel was in college, she asked me for a banana bread recipe. I couldn’t find my old standby so I sent her this one, taken from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta. She loved how it turned out and it soon became her favorite recipe. It is a very dense, rich cake that tastes more sinful than it really is since it uses no butter, oil or added sugar. The pureed prunes keep it moist and healthy!

Rancho La Puerta Chocolate Banana Bread
(Makes 1 loaf)
2 cups water
12 oz pitted prunes
2 medium ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (can use gluten free flour and guar gum)
½ cup cocoa powder
1 T ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup banana chips, broken into small pieces
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8-cup loaf pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the water and prunes and bring to a simmer. Simmer slowly until the prunes are very soft, about 30 minutes.
(Drain any excess liquid.)
3. Puree the prunes, bananas, and eggs in a blender until smooth.
4. Sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl.
5. Stir in the banana mixture and combine thoroughly.
6. Gently stir in the walnuts, banana chips, and chocolate chips.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan...
...and bake for 50-60 minute or until a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean (or with only a bit of melted chocolate chip on it).
7. Turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool, and remove the parchment from the bottom. Cut into thin slices to serve. Serve warm, sliced thin, with fresh fruit, or freeze for up to a month.




shari brooks | 7:37 PM

i love Banana Bread recipes! I adore bananas too. Check out my latest BB recipe too! Keep 'em coming.

Jessica | 9:14 PM

oh that sounds so amazing!!!

Anonymous | 9:37 PM

Hi, Wendy.

Do you think that banana bread recipe would work with whole wheat flour? Too dry?


Wendy Woolf | 9:49 PM

Hi, Cynthia. Yes! You can use whole wheat flour! The recipe actually says use either one...I should have included that.

Anonymous | 10:28 PM

well i have some over ripe bananas sitting on the counter and was thinking banana bread. i'm going to try this one tomorrow. thanks tricia

Autumn | 3:18 AM

I love the eat well posts. They are so fun to try! This will be coming up in my kitchen for sure!

Anonymous | 6:42 AM

One of my daughter's favorite snacks is peanut butter sandwiched between slices of bananas. She calls them banana oreos.

Anonymous | 10:00 AM

I so look forward to these posts! The banana bread looks amazing! I've heard of subbing applesauce, but prunes never occurred to me. Thanks for sharing!
PS I would LOVE a tutorial :)

Becky Lynn | 10:25 AM

We love banana bread in our house. We love it more with chocolate chips. I LOVE that this has prunes in it because of some digestive issues my son has. (who is the biggest banana bread lover ever). What a great way to let him have his favorite bread and get some prunes as well! We will be making this FOR SURE. Thanks so much for sharing!

Abi | 10:49 AM

I have all the ingredients for this recipe!!! I think the chocolate is a brilliant addition!

Rachael | 1:21 PM

FYI, the reason the babies go from heirloom tomato size to the very disparately sized banana is because the metric they use to measure the babies changes at 20 weeks from crown-rump (aka, head-tush) length to head-toe length. No idea why they do this, but it explains why the fruits jump up in size.

Molly | 5:23 PM

Just checking--if I make this with gluten-free flour, then my gluten-free friends can eat it, right? (I'm still learning what going gluten-free means). Is it still tasty that way? Looking forward to baking it as soon as I pick up the ingredients!

SJ | 7:19 PM

anyone tried without the chocolate chips? or left out the nana chips?

Anonymous | 9:13 PM

I would love to make this recipe but at the moment banana's in Australia cost $13 AU a kilo! :(

Wendy Woolf | 9:43 PM

Molly...check the banana chips and chocolate to make sure they are gluten free. Some chocolate isn't gluten free but most is. And SJ, I have never made it without the chocolate chips but have made it without the banana chips and it is just as good. I am sure it would taste fine without the chocolate chips but not as chocolaty!

heidi | 4:34 AM

This is such a great recipe! Just wanted to share. I made it yesterday and made a few changes and/or mistakes!
1.)Used dates instead of prunes
2.)Only used Choc Chips
3.)Only had 1 egg
4.)Used whole wheat flour.
Turned out delish still after all of the modifications. Perfect recipe for those who are not great at following the rules of baking such as myself.
Thanks for posting!

Ashley | 6:29 PM

Made this recipe today. I was a little worried that the prunes would turn off the hubby but he ate a slice and said "This is really chocolatey!" Winning! Thanks for another great recipe.

Katie Doty | 1:33 AM

Wendy, as a current UCSD student who has been cooking a lot of your recipes I'm so stoked to learn you are an alum! Thanks for another great recipe!


Mariah Gale | 1:29 PM

We just made this last night and it's delish!! It will be dessert for the rest of the week. Would love to know of more recipes without added sugar/oil.

Valentina | 12:49 PM

I love bananas too but the traditional Banana Bread recipes are a bit plain for my taste (I'm a chocoholic). Your recipe sounded rich and I tried it - it is absolutely delicious; the chocolate added the 'kick' I was missing. (I skipped the banana chips altogher)