This cocoa-banana bread exposed a serious flaw our new house. And it’s not just a matter of taste, like ugly counter tops or bad wallpaper. No, it’s the oven. For all you inveterate bakers out there, you know this is a problem not to be taken lightly.
So, here’s the situation. The oven has all digital controls. I can’t just twist a knob to 375 degrees and walk away. I have to program the temperature by pressing buttons. That makes my oven sound hip and cool and futuristic. It’s not. It’s old, tiny, and poorly designed. Because these very same buttons control the timer.
The cocoa banana bread cooks for 30 minutes, then it’s tented with foil to avoid over-browning. So I program my oven, set the timer for 30 minutes, and go on my merry way. After 30 minutes pass, I hear the timer, turn it off (as one will do with noisy beeping sounds), tent the pan, reset the timer for another 30 minutes, and go on my merry way again. When the timer goes off a second time, I return to the oven to check the bread. It hasn’t risen properly and it’s still more batter than bread. Hm. I set the timer for another 15 minutes, stick it back in the oven, and realize the oven is cool. Not cool as in “groovy.” Cold.
I bring all of my Sherlock Holmes powers of deduction to bear and realize, with sagging shoulders, that when I hit “clear” to stop the timer from beeping after the first 30 minutes, it also cleared the temperature to zero and turned off the oven. Sigh.
My daughter wanted to take a bike ride through our new neighborhood so I put the bread back in and willed it to cook fast. After another 20 minutes, I pulled it out even though it still left streaks on the tester.
After our bike ride, we came back inside to try the bread. Chocolate and banana struck my husband as a weird combination, but think banana splits and Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. They work. This bread does, too, in flavor. But the texture is unforgivably dry. Every time I cut a slice, a shower of crumbs decorates my counters. Days after we finished up the bread, I still found cocoa banana bread crumbs in various corners of the kitchen.
My 4-year-old, who never pulls a punch when it comes to evaluating my cooking, was spot on in her assessment. I said, “Do you think it’s good?” She said, “Yeah, it’s good.” I said, “Do you think it’s really good, or just ok?” “Just ok.”
Thanks to Steph of Obsessed with Baking for providing yet another reason to start shopping for a new oven. You can find the recipe for this cocoa banana bread on her site or on page 46 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.