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Dairy-Free Double Chocolate Banana Cake

  "What are your academic interests?"
  "Career field you could see yourself in?"
  "Have a major lined up by the end of sophomore year."
  "Oh, Journalism, you must really love writing and the news."
  "When are you opening your own bakery?"
  "What's your passion?"
  "What makes you happy?"

  I wiped off my palms for the 10th time as my well-meaning temporary advisor guided me through the sign-up process.  The entire day was devoted to getting transfers acclimated, and all around me I felt the vibe of uncertainty pulsing as we all tried to navigate our way around a new system.  Every time I turned a corner in the Union, I felt more than saw the memory ghosts intent upon making the day harder than it already had it to be.  My hands shook and I dropped a lot of things.  I came out with too many papers and enough anxiety to fill a five-gallon bucket.

  Fast forward to the weekend.  Lack of sleep and early early work mornings with far too many complicated customer interactions had me at the end of my rope.  Lying in my bed trying to will my eyes shut, I realized something.  Almost everything I do these days is forced.  Even writing, photographing, and talking about how much I love doing those things is forced.  All the fields I had signed up to explore in college were forced.  Or maybe not so much forced as they are just agiven.  I'm Ellen.  I'm a baker.  I'm a food photographer.  I'm a sweet tooth.

  I sat up and rubbed my eyes as something hit me with profound clarity.  My heart wasn't in any of it.

  Sure, I like doing this stuff, but neither is it everything to me.  I always always feel like there's something more I'm cut out for, I just haven't quite hit that niche yet.  I feel it around every corner, and that's what is leading me back to school.  To explore.  To stop working, to make myself take the time to get to know me again.

  With that thought finally put to rest I fell backwards and almost as soon as my head hit the pillow I fell asleep.  I've put a lot of thought into it since then, and it all makes sense.  The jealousy I've felt towards other more successful bloggers/bakers is not so much that I want their success as it is I want their drive and passion.  I want to put my everything into something and feel good about it, not forced or driven down.  The uneasiness that accompanies every conversation I've ever had with someone about my blog, baking, or photography stems from the very fact that this isn't something I want to actually pursue as a career.  It would drive me crazy.  I adore it all, making the food, photos, and posts....but I don't love it.  And frankly, there have been more days than not that it's driven me up a wall and across the ceiling.

  All in all, I have no idea where my exactly my passions are, but I have some inklings.  I want to follow those inklings and stop pressuring myself into having a super specific passion.  It's just unhealthy.

  I'm not leaving this space, that would still be like losing a little piece of myself.  But I do think that I'll become a bit more relaxed with it.  Try to put my spare time into different things and see what happens.  I've learned so much about myself in baking and writing, and I do not want that to stop.  I'm taking my crazy flour-dusted camera and laptop to my new apartment next month and they will stay with me through all of my upcoming college ventures.

  The pressure is off, but the oven is still on.  

  I had the biggest bunch of frozen bananas taking up freezer space, so I made my favorite banana bread and a new guy!  This chocolate-y, mildly underbaked (not even sorry about it, kinda love it actually), banana-infused hot mess was the best thing I did with my Monday off.  Dairy-free in honor of several new coworkers I've befriended over the months that unfortunately can't take the buttah or cheese.

  Oil and butter free, you don't remotely miss the dairy in these guys.  Bananas, applesauce, and a hint of molasses create all the moistness you could ever need.  Also, another deal breaker is the fact that these only require one bowl and a whisk.  I love one bowl recipes.

  Armed with this awesome new cake recipe and a weary but slightly more peaceful state of mind, I am so so ready/not ready to just be more.

Dairy-Free Double Chocolate Banana Cake
Yield: 9 pieces, or an 8x8 inch pan

  • 3 medium ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Mini chocolate chips for topping, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8x8 inch square pan.

Place your bananas in a medium bowl and mash 'em up with a fork.  Add the sugar and whisk thoroughly until combined.  Add the applesauce, molasses, vanilla, and egg until combined.  Whisk in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan and bake and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.  

Sources: adapted slightly from Friday Is Cake Night