I approached the coffee aisle with trepidation, bracing myself for disappointment. However, I was happy to find my old friend, Tony’s Coffee, from my old stomping grounds in Bellingham. (I literally stomped there a lot; this is not just an idiom in this case.) I stood there a moment, breathing in the stimulating smell of the piles of beans crowded in their plastic prisons waiting to be sent to the grinder (is the aroma the scent of fear coming off their glistening bodies?), and reached for the Sumatra, my old standby from the early days of cup supping, my fingers grazing it’s natural brown bag with the elephant. But just to the right, bright graphics and the color red beckoned, and I, a middle-aged woman in a middle-waged income bracket, the living and breathing target of all savvy marketers world-wide, succumbed, dropping all loyalties and romantic memories of my past relationship with Tony’s, and turned to the Raven’s Brew Gourmet coffee.
With shining red on every bag, edgy, dark and mysterious artwork, clever slogans to go with each variety, and enticing superlatives, they had me. I’m so enamored of their designs I want to buy posters, (Raven’s Brew sells them!) but the thought is thwarted by lack of wall space, and my very practical nature. I went for the Wicked Wolf – “Grannie’s Gone but the Coffee’s On” being the final deciding factor. In a different mood, I may have chosen Deadman’s Reach – “Served in bed, raises the dead,” or the kinda-crude, but entertaining Three Peckered Billy Goat – “Sup from the cup that keeps you up” (which I liked so much I incorporated cup supping up above if you didn’t catch it…). But the Dark Roast is what I wanted most, as I was planning on serving it with some sweet, cake-like, banana bread. With chocolate. And ginger.
If you don’t know about Molly Wizenberg, and/or her blog Orangette, treat yourself after you finish reading this post, (or bounce on over right away, because I won’t know you did anyway) and go there. She’s been writing about food for years, and takes great photos, and has a trendy restaurant in Ballard she opened with her husband (who she met through her blog), and I’m pretty sure we share the same birthday and she has reddish hair, so she must be cool. Plus I met her at a reading and book signing and can confirm that yes, she is cool. The following recipe, mostly verbatim, comes from her book, A Homemade Life, and differs from the one you’ll find on her blog, but I like this one better. I’ve never had a complaint serving it to anyone, and catching up with an old friend over a cup of espresso and a warm slice (or two) of this bread on a sunny weekday morning is just about perfect. As she advised me when she signed my book, enjoy it all!
6 Tbsp. (3 oz.) unsalted butter
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups mashed banana (about 3 large ripe bananas)
¼ cup well-stirred whole-milk plain yogurt (not low fat or nonfat)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with butter or cooking spray, and set aside.
In a small bowl, microwave butter until just melted. (Be careful of hot erupting butter bursts.) Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring gently with a rubber spatula and scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy, but there should be no unincorporated flour. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top.
Bake for about one hour on middle rack, until the loaf is a golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the loaf in a pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then tip it out onto the rack, and let it cool completely before slicing–unless you absolutely can’t help yourself, in which case, dig in.
Molly notes that fully cooled, this bread freezes beautifully.