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This Bread Is Bananas

orange chocolate banana bread gwen stefani caspar babypants
“We’re not pretty, but we’re not dead. We can be Banana Bread.”

Inspired by a lyric in “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani with the theme song “Banana Bread” by Caspar Babypants
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I’m a No Doubt fan and dig most of their albums. I can even say there are a few Gwen Stefani tracks I dig, but honestly not “Hollaback Girl.” Maybe it’s the faux cheerleader schtick (Toni Basil did it better) or maybe it’s top-level songwriting like:

So I’m ready to attack, gonna lead the pack
Gonna get a touchdown, gonna take you out
That’s right, put your pom-poms down
Getting everybody fired up

In any case, the “this shit is bananas / B-A-N-A-N-A-S” line is perfect for a banana bread recipe. I just needed to find a song to use as a theme because no way in hell was I linking to “Hollaback Girl.” So I searched Spotify for “banana” and discovered there are WAY more songs with “banana” in the title than one would think. I skipped the obvious “Banana Boat Song (Day-O).” Thought about Raffi’s “Banana Phone” and very very briefly Ween’s “Bananas and Blow”, but nothing seemed right.

Then I discovered Caspar Babypants and the brilliant “Banana Bread.” It is sung from the standpoint of a bunch of bananas on a kitchen counter and is a meditation on the lifecycle and existential dilemma they face. Looking snappy when they are first put on the counter, they are ultimately forgotten and neglected until they are ” a fruit fly-covered brown and bummed out bunch.” They ultimately make a plea to be useful in what is honestly a pretty dark lyrical turn:

Me and the boys have been together for so long
We grew up on a banana tree and learned to sing this song
All the young bananas learned it in case they get forgotten
So people don’t throw them out just because they look a little bit rotten

Oh yeah – and it’s from a kid’s album.

I am not a baker. I have spent years learning a variety of culinary techniques, but never really spent any time with baking. Some of that may come from the fact I’m not really much of a baked goods kind of guy. I rarely eat dessert. I prefer just coffee for breakfast. Plus, for most baking recipes, I’ve found there is a precision that is more scientific than most other culinary techniques.

So when I started thinking about the Music & Food project, I knew I wanted to push the envelope of my skills. I wanted to learn new techniques. Try new things. That meant baked goods. I had been working in a cafe that had very popular banana bread, and I had VERY ripe bananas on the counter, so I started researching recipes. What I learned was how easy banana bread is. One bowl, no special equipment, and pretty much flawless results every time.

I started with basic simple recipes but ultimately wanted something a bit more decadent. If I’m going to make a baked good, it should be an indulgence. Bananas and chocolate are an obvious combo. Here, a portion of the flour is replaced with cocoa powder keeping things simple and not requiring any special chocolate skills. I then thought, “Hey! I love chocolate and orange!” So in went a bit of fresh-squeezed orange juice. I’m not a “nuts in banana bread” kind of guy, but some walnuts or pecans would work nicely here. I do like to keep a few banana chunks when mashing so the bread had an extra flavor punch and texture. This is certainly more a cake than bread, but that’s pretty much the case with banans bread. A slice of this goes a long way to satisfying several cravings at once.

It’s also the perfect way to pay tribute to those neglected bananas on your counter.

THIS BREAD IS BANANAS
an orange chocolate banana bread even a non-baker can make
Makes one loaf

3 medium-to-large very ripe bananas
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar (either light or dark will work)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

Heat your oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan, or spray it with a nonstick baking spray.

Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, orange juice, and vanilla. Place baking soda, salt, cinnamon, clove, ginger, flour, and cocoa powder in a sifter or fine-mesh strainer and sift over wet ingredients. Stir dry and wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The banana bread will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature wrapped in foil or plastic wrap.

Posted in baking, bushwick, cooking, food, foodmusic, grillclub, music, musicfood, recipe

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