We love the texture and look of our Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread but the dominant flavor is sweet, when it should be banana. So I grabbed a pen, a calculator, and King Arthur Flour’s article on baking math, and I set out to see if we could improve the recipe.
Belle’s major contribution to this effort was sleeping in while I math’ed.
With some overripe bananas, we set off to test the recipe.
Belle worked on peeling bananas while I collected the rest of the ingredients. She was eager to crack the eggs, but we worked on “first x, then y” sequencing, and she completed the banana task first.
Peeling works on fine motor and using hands in conjunction: one hand needs to stabilize while the other does the precision work. With three bananas to peel, Belle gets plenty of practice at the task all at once: the first banana peel may have made it into the bowl with the squashed banana (“oops! That’s okay!”) but the third banana was neatly segmented and the peel dropped at the side of the bowl. Success!
Mashing is a little tricky, since it should also use a hand to stabilize the bowl. While we tried it unsuccessfully with a fork, next time I might experiment with letting Belle mash using her hands, and get some texture exposure and sensory play in.
Back to fine motor with unwrapping the butter. With only a dozen or so attempts spread out over two months, she can easily unwrap a stick of butter. It’s still really tempting to play with once it’s unwrapped, and generally speaking, that’s okay.
I show Belle the line we’re scooping to, then ask “more or stop” after each scoop. She picked up the pattern quickly, stating “more” even before I ask, even when she’s crossed the line. Next we’ll have to slow her down and work on the elements of the task: scoop, pour, level, assess. She’s confident in the fine motor aspects (so much so that she’s testing other ways to hold the scoop), but the cognitive sequencing needs development.
Skills worked on:
- following directions
- kitchen safety
- asking for help
- fine motor (scooping, pouring, peeling)
- food prep!
- mixer (stand or hand)
- mixing bowl
- several small bowls (for eggs, banana, dry ingredients)
- loaf pan
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
Our taste test (“mmm”) determined that it’s still too sweet, and the ratio of chocolate chips to batter is too high, so we cut 1/4 c. chocolate chips in the recipe below. We’ll be testing again!
Recipe (35-40 min prep, 50 min bake, yield 1 loaf):
- 3 bananas
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 c. butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 c. 2% Greek yogurt
- 1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c. chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325°F and grease a loaf pan.
- Melt one stick of butter in separate bowl.
- Whisk together melted butter, 1/4 c. granulated sugar, and 2 tbsp brown sugar. It won’t look like normal creamed butter and sugar, more like a grainy paste.
- Mash 3 ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 c.). Add bananas, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 c. Greek yogurt to butter/sugar mixture. Mix well.
- Combine 1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt. Fold into wet mixture. Then fold in 3/4 c. chocolate chips.
- Split batter into prepared loaf pans and spread it even. Sprinkle extra chocolate chips on top (optional).
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Let cool completely before removing from pan. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.