Olive Oil Banana Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate

I never want to move to Suburbia.

It’s one of the many statements I’ve made to Roo, in reaction to our progression as a couple.  Thankfully he feels the same way I do – we will not be living on the end of a cul de sac or within a family compound.

I love the city.  Which is strange because I remember growing up in the suburbs, absolutely loving that a mere ten minute drive from my house was a horseback riding farm where I spent more time there than at school or my parents’ house combined.  I loved that there was an apple orchard down the road from my house, and we could go ride our horses down those fields, grabbing a few snacks off of those trees whenever we cut through.  And on occasion, we’d see deer or wild turkeys in my parents’ backyard (one year the turkeys got so bold that they were attacking children in our neighborhood and the housewives banded together to get the local news to report on it).

So, what happened?

I honestly can’t say when I came to the decision that I would only live in two extremes, city or absolute rural life, but I have a feeling it had to do with a previous long term relationship.  Coming out of that, I was convinced I would remain single for the rest of my life; perhaps going mad enough to run around the house screaming about wire hangers or making my apartment into a cat zoo.  But I knew it would not be in the suburbs, where I was previously spending all my time with that ex, thinking of marriage, buying a house, having 2.5 children and a black lab named Boss, thus, wanting to keep up with the Joneses.

Unfortunately this weekend I realized that no matter where you go, there still may be a suburban mentality lurking around the very corner from where you live.

I moved in with Roo, about eight months ago, into an apartment on a main road in Boston.  Living in the city does have some cons, and one of them is on-street parking.  We, like the rest of the residents in our neighborhood, are lucky enough that we have free on-street parking (most require permits), but sometimes there aren’t enough spots available on our actual street.  A lot of the time I park on the side road next to us, as it also doesn’t require a permit.

About two weeks ago, my junky car that I’ve been debating donating to charity or not (because to fix it would be more than the car is actually worth) got a flat.  And, as I love procrastination, I left it in that spot until this past weekend.  Originally I was going to have the tow truck fix the tire and then take it back to my parents’ house as I finally decided to just donate it (yes, let it be the parents’ problem) last Friday, but it was nearly 100F outside. I felt guilty about having someone come over in that heat to work on my car.

The following morning, I woke up early to call AAA.  About an hour later the tow truck arrived.  After walking up the hill to meet up with him, I was surprised to find a neon green sticker affixed to my driver side window.  It read: Abandoned Vehicle Report.

At first I was confused.  My car was never “abandoned,’ as I lived less than five houses from where I parked it.  But as the tow truck driver got out, it all became clear.

One man ran over from the other side of the hill to ask if the tow truck driver was there to tow a car that he had reported, back on his side of the street.  The tow truck driver replied that I had called him myself, and that he was with AAA.  Then, as the driver started asking me what was wrong with my car, I saw people start to gather across the street.  Four, yes four adults, two of them senior men, another middle aged, and one housewife, had congregated across from where I stood and started to talk amongst each other, pointing at me, my car, and the tow truck.  It was obvious what had happened.

Boston’s version of suburbia had reported my car as abandoned.

All I could do was be happy that it wasn’t the city coming to tow my car away (much to the group’s disappointment, judging by the looks on their faces), but AAA.

Needless to say, after my car was taken away, I came stomping back down the hill in a sort of a rage.  Well, maybe not a rage, but definitely wanting to pull my own hair out.

It was nearly lunchtime when I came back to the apartment, half starved and half, let’s say, crazed.  Not wanting a sandwich, I flipped open my laptop and scanned through some of the blogs that I subscribe to.  I wanted cake.  But not a sugar filled, frosting laden, birthday type, but an excuse to eat cake for breakfast.  You know, “breakfast cake.”  Thankfully Melissa Clark’s website had a recipe made with both bittersweet chocolate, bananas, and olive oil.  A little sweet, and supposedly healthy, to make me feel better for surviving my first urban-suburbia experience.

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Adapted, a little, from Melissa Clark

As you can see in this photo I went overboard with the bittersweet chocolate (1 cup).  The following recipe has been toned down a bit.  Also, I’ve tried making this with just dried cranberries (1/2 cup) and it was fantastic, and may try it next time with even more.

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Ingredients

Wet

2 egg whites (or you can use 2 whole large eggs)

2 cups very (VERY) ripe bananas (I used four practically black large bananas)

1/3 cup olive oil

heaping 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (I used 2%)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I like to push the limits of whole wheat in my recipes.  If you would like a less “wheaty” flavor, I would suggest using 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour as Melissa Clark dictates.)

1/2 cup cane sugar (I used practically black bananas.  If you like a very sweet cake, feel free to use more sugar)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (I use Diamond)

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 60% chips)

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Equipment

1 large mixing bowl

1 small mixing bowl (can hold up to 3 cups of ingredients)

whisk

spatula

parchment paper (optional, but useful)

9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan

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Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter and flour your loaf pan, or line it with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites (or eggs) with the olive oil, yogurt and vanilla extract.  It’s going to look like an oily mess, but keep going until it all comes together.

In a small mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (all purpose, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking soda, salt) together with a whisk till combined.  There is no need to sift, well, at least I didn’t find a need to.  Add the bittersweet chocolate to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, in at least two increments.  After each increment, mix till just combined with a spatula, being sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl.

Pour, or more like, scoop with a spatula (the batter is quite thick), the batter into the loaf pan.  Spread the top out evenly with a spatula, and then tap the pan against a table to knock the air bubbles out.  Put the loaf pan in the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.  Because ovens vary, I would say use a cake tester (knife, toothpick, whatever) to see if the cake is done at the 45 minute mark.  There should be some crumbs hanging onto the tester, but definitely not wet batter.  If you see wet batter, when you pull the tester out from the middle, put the cake back in the oven and wait another 3 – 5 minutes.

I will say that this cake is definitely not as good out of the oven versus being cooled completely.  You will (probably) only hear me say that once, as I can (as I’ve stated multiple times) never wait for the cake to cool before eating.  What I absolutely love about this cake is that it tastes even better the next day.  To me it tasted even more bananaie.  Yes, I’m making that a word.

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