Banana Bread

Banana Bread, as far as I know, is the first thing I learned how to bake. Like a lot of children, I’d help out or play with various ingredients while my mother was cooking, but I don’t recall ever actually uttering words like “I’ll be in the kitchen, baking” until after the discovery of this recipe. You’re now probably expecting the holy grail of banana bread recipes, and not that I’ve found any, but I’m sure there are better ones. What I can promise is that this recipe is simple, quick, adaptable, kid-friendly, inexpensive to make, and consistently yields a yummy loaf.
In writing this post, I tried to figure out what it is that makes me like this recipe so much. I’m sure to some degree, it has a lot to do with the fact that I grew up on it. I remember obsessively baking this, week after week, for years; I just couldn’t get enough of it. But it’s more than that. There’s a simplicity to this recipe that’s not out of laziness or a lack of creativity, but rather a true belief that the banana in banana bread should be the star. There are no extracts or spices added to alter or mask flavors, there are no secret ingredients, there are just bananas. And, in this case, that’s enough.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread
(recipe adapted from Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook by Ruth Berolzheimer – 1973)
Printer Friendly Recipe

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups sifted flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup nut meats, chopped

 

Cream shortening and sugar together.  Beat eggs until light and add. Mash bananas with a fork and add lemon juice. Blend with creamed mixture.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and mix quickly into banana mixture. Add nuts. Tip: For some added crunch, substitute 1/2 or 3/4 cup of flour with rolled oats. For some variety, use pecans or hazelnuts instead of the traditional walnuts. If you don’t like the idea of chopped nuts in your bread, this recipe is forgiving and will allow for nut meal instead. For a little something extra, reduce nuts by a 1/2 cup and add 1 cup of chocolate chips.
Bake in greased and lightly floured loaf pan in moderate oven (375 degrees F) about 50 min to 1 1/4 hours or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Note: I’ve made this recipe in many different ovens in many different cities and with many different ingredients; Baking times will vary, so keep an eye on your bread.
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan before unmolding. Continue to cool on a wire rack.
Makes 1 (1-pound) loaf.