Olive oil banana bread with dark chocolate chips + chia seeds

My latest baking project began simply as a Tuesday morning necessity to make use of a few overripe bananas loitering in the fruit bowl. Let’s be honest, I’ve been known to buy more bananas than we can eat just so I have an excuse to bake something banana-y. But after the husband declared this one of the best banana breads I’ve ever made — not that the addition of dark chocolate chips stacked the odds in its favor or anything — I knew this was a recipe to share.

I have gotten hooked on olive oil cakes lately. First, because I love the moist, tender crumb that olive oil yields; and second, because I can’t stand waiting around for butter to soften, or to dirty a saucepan in order to melt it. Olive oil is already at room temp and conveniently parked right next to the stove, so it’s often what I reach for when that baking itch needs to be scratched.

What else made it into this loaf? A few of the usual suspects: a generous amount of cinnamon, a little Greek yogurt, vanilla extract. Dark maple syrup is the sweetener and infuses the cake with a more complex and subtle sweetness than white sugar. I also added chia seeds to the batter, because I wanted a little textural contrast and thought they’d be more interesting than poppy seeds.

This is the first time I’ve decorated the cake’s top with a whole banana, halved lengthwise, and I must say I like it — it gives the cake a bit more visual character, and it also ensures a couple of bites of tender, baked banana in each slice. A win win.

Olive oil banana bread with dark chocolate chips + chia seeds
Makes 1 loaf

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 large, very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup) PLUS one banana, peeled and halved lengthwise, to decorate the top of the cake (optional)
2 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup dark maple syrup
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour an 8-1/2 x 4-1/4 x 2-1/2-inch loaf pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a separate larger bowl combine bananas, eggs, maple syrup, and yogurt. Whisk until smooth. Pour in olive oil. whisking constantly, then stir in vanilla extract.

Stir the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir in chia seeds and fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and arrange remaining banana on top. Bake at until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before slicing.

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