The Magic Chocolate Chip Banana Cake I Couldn’t Get Enough of as a New Parent
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My biggest adjustment in those first days motherhood, the moment I realized that my life was forever changed — was our first meal at home as a family. Our friends had come over, lugging enough Vietnamese takeout to feed us for a week. I was ravenous.
I’d had a rough start breastfeeding twins and was either feeding or attempting to feed most of the time, without the confidence that anything would ever get easier. My stomach was beyond ready to tear into the giant spread like a raccoon, but, of course my hands were full. And that’s something rarely talked about in parenting circles: your hands may not be fully accessible for a long time.
I placed one of my daughters — a tiny thing resembling a wrinkled potato — into a bouncy chair. Once she was safely clipped in, and with my other daughter tucked into the crook of my arm, I used my remaining hand to shovel spring rolls into my mouth. Cutlery only slowed me down, acting as an unnecessary impediment in the food-to-mouth continuum. It was clumsy and fast, and I realized I would be eating in this way for the foreseeable future.
That moment was not lost on me, and even though I had lots to celebrate and was very proud of myself for making two new humans, I also felt a little sad. If I’m honest, I felt a little helpless too.
When I remember those early days as a new family, I think of how often I made toast — only a finger required to push a lever, and the charred bread satisfyingly cold and chewy by the time I got around to eating it. Later, I made a scrambled egg or two, clumsily at first, then more deftly with practice. I ate most of my meals standing over the sink, or huddled on the couch, covering my daughters in seedy cracker crumbs while I tried to keep us all fed.
It was an adjustment period for everyone, and as the days melted into months I found pockets of time where I invariably ended up in the kitchen, enjoying the freedom of finally using two hands — a brief break in the day where I was not needed and could do something for myself. I baked, regularly, my mother’s chocolate chip banana cake — a sort of magic cake because bananas and chocolate commingle to create more deliciousness than each ingredient is capable of on its own. It can easily be baked, cooled, cut into squares, and frozen for fast, one-handed eating. It was a necessary comfort.
These days, even though my girls are about to turn 4 and I have long ago reclaimed (almost) full use of my hands, I find myself making the cake again. Sometimes, because I have a few spotty bananas sitting hopefully on the counter, but more often because it’s the perfect, most nourishing thing to drop on a friend’s doorstep in difficult times.
Makes 1 (9×13-inch) pan cake
- 2 cups
- 2 teaspoons
- 1 teaspoon
Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup
unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups
large or 3 medium ripe bananas
- 1 teaspoon
pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup
full-fat plain yogurt or full-fat sour cream, divided
- 1 cup
dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar, until they are light and fluffy.
In a high-speed blender or food processor, add the bananas, eggs and vanilla and purée until smooth. Pour the banana mixture into the butter and sugar mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until fully combined.
Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Add 1/4 cup of the yogurt and fold until just combined. Repeat. Add the final third of the flour and the chocolate chips. Fold to combine, making sure no pockets of flour remain.
Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish and spread it in an even layer. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the sides of the cake start to pull away from the baking dish. Let cool slightly in the baking dish before serving.
Store the cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze, quartered and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 3 months.
Reprinted with permission from How to Eat with One Hand: Recipes and Other Nourishment for New and Expectant Parents by Christine Flynn and Emma Knight, Penguin Canada, © 2021.