marbled banana bread

Less than a week after I delivered the ostensibly completed manuscript for that my second cookbook (just 40 days now!), I received an email from someone was looking for a recipe for a chocolate-vanilla marble cake like the one her grandmother had made, one that had great texture and wasn’t too sweet. She said that no recipe she’d tried had achieved this, and could I help?


what you'll need
the batter begins in one bowl

I became obsessed; I loved the idea and I fiddled until I came up with a marble cake I loved, moist, deeply chocolaty in the dark swirls, but no throwaway blandness in the light ones… and then I added it to the book. Editors love this, by the way, almost as much as mine loved the ten recipes I swapped in in December and the three in January, and the introduction that I didn’t write until February. Seriously, just let me know if you ever want me to write that How Not To Write A Book Book.

and then divides

What a tease, however, that this isn’t that marble cake. (That one is really good though! I thought I’d hand it off to friends and my family basically blockaded the door.) (Geez, Deb, stop rubbing it in.) What I wanted to tell you today is what happened after I figured out how I wanted to marble the cake, which is that I found it so much fun, I couldn’t stop. I started marbling everything. Marbled chocolate graham crackers. Marbled gingerbread bars. And then one day I even made marbled banana bread and I shared it on Instagram Stories and I don’t think I have ever received so many requests for a recipe.

start checkerboarding dollops of batter
a few more alternated dollops

At my typically snail-like pace of output, this brings us up to today. Banana bread is perfect fall/back-to-school food anyway, can we pretend I “meant” to do that? And this version, which is 50% this jacked-up classic (my favorite) and 50% this double-dark chocolate version (seemingly everyone else on earth’s favorite) is thus the literal definition of “best of both worlds.” I know for a fact that all of our weekends will be better with this in it.

stop before you go too far
marbled banana bread

The Smitten Kitchen Every Day Fall 2017 Book TourHave you gotten to check out the book tour for Smitten Kitchen Every Day? It begins the day the book comes out — October 24th — and I’m so excited. I hope your town is on it. I hope this means we finally get to meet. And if you’re in Minneapolis, Nashville, Denver, Atlanta or Montreal… we should have more good news soon (eee!).

Marbled Banana Bread

  • 3 large very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup (145 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table or fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (130 grams) plus 1/4 cup (35 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (about 20 grams) dark cocoa powder (I use Dutched but any kind should work), sifted if lumpy
  • 3/4 cup (130 grams) chocolate chips

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

Melt butter in the bottom of a large bowl in the microwave. Mash the bananas right into it until mostly smooth. Whisk in brown sugar, egg, vanilla, baking soda, and salt until thoroughly combined. Add 1 cup of the flour, stirring just until it disappears.

Pour half of batter into a second bowl. (You can eyeball it, it’s fine. Or you can know that my batter halves were roughly 365 grams each, but weights will vary with banana sizes.) Into one bowl, stir the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and ground cinnamon. Into the other bowl, stir in the cocoa powder and chocolate chips.

Dollop batters in large (see pictures above for an idea of size) alternating spoonfuls into bottom of prepared loaf pan. Attempt to “checkerboard” the rest in, roughly meaning that you’ll drop a chocolate batter dollop on top of a chocolate-free one and vice-versa until both batters are used up. Use a butter knife or small offset spatula to make a few figure-8s through the batters, marbling them together — but just a little, say, 2 to 3 figure-8s. Any more and the swirls may not look distinct when you cut the cake.

Bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. (A melted chocolate chip smear is expected, however.) Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do ahead: The banana bread will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature. I keep mine wrapped in foil.

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