Recipe: A Simple Banana Bread

a loaf of banana bread

a loaf of banana bread

Schatzi: The earliest banana breads seem to have developed during the Twenties and Thirties, with recipes in print by 1933. This coincided with the popularity of baking soda and powder for use in quick breads. During the Twenties and Thirties, both bananas and pineapple were wildly popular, and banana bread was a quick, simple item to bake. It had another resurgence in the Sixties, one appearing in my 1961 Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook, and another five in the 1962 Good Housekeeping Cook Book.

I think of banana bread as a very Sixties and Seventies treat, which is a bit odd because I wasn’t even born yet. But my mother baked it, and there is still a stained recipe card for Banana Bread in the recipe box, one with her younger, more childish handwriting. I can imagine her baking it in high school back in the Sixties, just as she later baked it for us when we were growing up. I remember Mom baking banana bread pretty frequently when I was little, but it seemed like she stopped almost entirely when I was older, though she never did stop saving black bananas in the freezer. We happened to have several nicely brown ones on hand, and I was possessed of a desire to bake some banana bread.

This recipe isn’t my mother’s; I couldn’t find hers when I was looking to bake some, so I looked at Cooking Light and found one. I’ve made it both with just egg whites and with whole eggs, and the difference is nominal; unless you want to save the yolks for something else, then I would just use whole eggs. I also substituted some whole wheat flour for white for extra fiber goodness, but I found that increasing it to a full cup make it a bit denser and drier than I prefer (though it was still good). I also subbed brown sugar for white in the interest of flavor, though either works (I’ve discussed my love of brown sugar many a time), and added a little vanilla and spices. And because bananas go so well with nuts, I also threw in some walnuts that I toasted quickly in the toaster oven. Toasting isn’t essential, but it enhances the flavor. I’m sure that pecans would also be tasty. One thing that is essential is using over-ripe bananas. Don’t use perfectly yellow ones, or ones with a hint of green (which I know a lot of you enjoy eating), as they won’t yet have the mellow, rich flavor that makes for a good banana bread. Use fruits that are heavily speckled with, if not completely brown.

it didn't even last two full days

it didn't even last two full days

Simple Banana Bread

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4  cup  butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4  cup  skim milk
  • 1/4  cup sour cream
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1-1/3  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2-1 cup walnuts, toasted

In a large bowl cream butter and sugars.  Add bananas, milk, sour cream, and eggs, mixing well.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet, beating until thoroughly blended. Fold in nuts.

Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan, and spoon in batter. Bake in pre-heated oven at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until a knife or broomstraw inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Adapted from Cooking Light, November 1996

another loaf of Simple Banana Bread, this time with half whole wheat and half white flours

another loaf of Simple Banana Bread, this time with half whole wheat and half white flours

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One response to “Recipe: A Simple Banana Bread

  1. Pingback: Twitted by bananabreadnut

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