By Chef Ella Freyinger

February 2021

4 Servings

If you have not yet read the book Braiding Sweetgrass I highly recommend
you order a copy from your neighborhood bookstore before you begin making
this recipe. Chaga and I have a relationship that goes back several years and
yet there was so much about this spirit I did not (and still don’t) know. In this
spellbinding book the author shares a story of Chaga and the Native tribes that are it’s guardians. A story in which Chaga is able to cradle an ember in its core to be transported to the tribes next home on their journey. While I am not making this sound nearly as poetic as it is due - this was a story that has stuck with me since reading the words. Chaga is capable of carrying the smallest of embers, the birth of a flame, the source of transformation. As we begin to warm our energies for the arrival of spring I can not imagine a more fitting plant ally to guide the way.


  • 11⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 11⁄4 tsps baking soda
  • 3⁄4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp chaga powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup plus 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1⁄4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1⁄2 cups ripe mashed bananas (about 4
  • 1 ripe banana, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1⁄2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts


  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Line a 81⁄2x41⁄2” loaf pan with parchment paper, making sure to cut the parchment long enough so that there is at least 3 inches of overhang on each end of the loaf pan.
  • Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, chaga and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Beat the brown sugar, sour cream and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on high speed for about 4 minutes, until light and fluffy. One at a time add the eggs, mixing to fully blend after each egg and scraping down sides and bottom of bowl if needed.
  • While the mixer is off, add flour mixture. Turn on low speed and mix until just combined, it is ok if there are still some bits of flour visible. Add mashed bananas and mix just until combined. Fold in walnuts. Scrape batter into the prepared pan. Add the banana halves to the top of the batter, gently pushing down.
  • Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let bread cool in the pan for 1 hour, away from the heat of the oven. Turn out the bread from the pan and let cool completely before slicing.
  • Enjoy!