Peanut Butter and Purple Onions

Sounds crazy until you try it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Yes Sir, We Have Bananas

All right, NY weather gods: mea culpa. I mocked you, I admit it. I looked out the window, saw the sheets of rain, and shrugged. "I lived in San Francisco," I sniffed. "We had rain there. I can handle this."

I was arrogant, okay, but I think you're taking this "wrath of the heavens" thing a bit far. Wasn't it enough when I arrived at work wearing what had started out as a gray suit and ended up as a combination black (soaked) and brown (mud) one? Or when my umbrella shrieked in agony, turned inside out, then wrenched itself out of my grip and blew away down the street in disgust?

No? Nothing? Fine. I'll do what I usually do when it rains -- bake banana bread.

This is our great-grandmother's recipe. Correction. This is our great-grandmother's list of ingredients. She was famous for her quick breads (I only remember banana and zucchini, but apparently there was tomato. I never had it), but she would get impatient if anyone asked for recipes. "It's like falling off a log" was her usual response. Eventually she was coaxed into providing a list of ingredients for banana bread, but she refused to provide more explanation than an oven temperature. So, after many trials and some truly bizarre results, we figured it out.

This is a dense banana bread, not overly sweet, and the loaf is enormous. I make mine without nuts because, really, they just get in the way, and the batter barely fits in a 9x5 pan; if you want to add nuts, please don't tell me and you'll need to split the batter between two smaller pans. Perfect with butter, cream cheese, or, yes, peanut butter. Let the winds howl.

Great-Grandma's Banana Bread

1/2 c. shortening (hmmm. need to find non-trans-fat option)
1 c. white sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. mashed ripe bananas
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the shortening and the sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add the mix a bit at a time into the wet ingredients until incorporated. (The batter will be quite stiff.) Add the mashed bananas and the chopped nuts, if you're using them. Pour into a greased and floured pan (9x5 if no nuts, two 8x4s if nuts included). Bake for about an hour; when it's done, the top will be firm and brown, and a knife will come out only a little tacky. I always rotate the pan at 30 minutes, probably more out of habit than any real need. Let it cool at least twenty minutes, preferably an hour, before slicing.

Freezes beautifully.


  • At 1:03 PM, Blogger Nic said…

    I love banana bread. I don't think I will ever tire of it - and I certainly hope that I don't. There are brands of shortening that have no trans fats (like Earth Balance), but you might have to go to a Whole Foods or similarly inclined grocers to find it. I always keep it in the fridge.

  • At 3:18 PM, Blogger FoodNinja said…

    Very nice banana bread,, I just made chunky monkey cake myself

  • At 1:48 PM, Blogger Devorit said…

    Oh, my goodness! You have let out the secret recipe!! You know great-grandma gave it to you and I and not to her actual children hehehehehe.

    Actually, I'm not sure that the recipe will work as well if you don't have to squint and ponder her writing and the way her fractions dip below lines so you're not quiiiiiitte sure where the 2 or 3 goes!

    I usually split the batter between a large and a small loaf pan -- works much better for me.

  • At 10:26 PM, Blogger BNA said…

    Nic -- welcome! Thanks for the trans fat shortening tips. I'll check out the local offerings.

    Templar -- welcome as well! tell me more about chunky monkey cake.

    Devorit -- well, someone had to share the wealth.

  • At 10:50 AM, Blogger BNA said…

    Just found your recipe, Templar -- looks decadent!

  • At 9:34 PM, Blogger farmgirl said…

    That banana bread looks divine! And earlier tonight I just happened to be admiring all the brown spots on about a dozen organic bananas languishing on the kitchen counter. . . Hmmmm. . .

    As Nic said, you can buy trans fat free shortenings--I think Spectrum makes an organic version. I've only used it for pie crust (not bad). You can also buy trans fat free margarine--Earth Balance makes a good one. Or there's always butter! : )

  • At 11:58 AM, Blogger BNA said…

    Thanks for the tips, Farmgirl -- I was just thinking the other night that all the recipes I have from our mom's side of the family, such as this one, use shortening instead of butter. Even all the cookie recipes. I wonder why? Definitely need to explore those options you listed.


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