Some recipes are worth a sore wrist from stirring. Some are worth doing the old-fashioned way. And I’ve found that, even though there are a million and one ways that you can be creative with food, it’s good to have some staples in your recipe collection that are tried-and-true. This banana bread meets all of those requirements.
I first encountered this recipe in the recipe boxes I inherited from my grandfather. A nondescript recipe handwritten on a stained and tattered card, it held a lot of promise, and I kept saying “I’ll make this sometime when I have bananas that need to be used before they turn.” However, when I finally got around to making the bread, I realized it was a recipe worth leaving on top of the stack. It’s a favorite in my home, and I’m certain it’ll be a favorite in yours.
Because this recipe has to cool overnight for easiest slicing, it’s a great bread to make, cool while you sleep, and slice for breakfast the next morning. And, it’s easy enough that you can make it any night of the week.
The recipe starts with sifting together 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of salt into one bowl.
In a small liquid measuring cup, you’ll want to put a tablespoon of vinegar, then fill it to 1/2 cup with milk. Set this aside for a few minutes. If you’d rather use buttermilk in place of the vinegar-milk mixture, you can– they’re essentially the same thing.
In a second bowl, cream 1/2 cup shortening, then slowly add 1 cup of sugar. To this, you’ll add two eggs, one at a time, beating until light and fluffy after each.
Before you even start the recipe, it helps to bring eggs to room temperature. See, chilled eggs didn’t used to be an issue. Farm fresh eggs are shelf-stable, and don’t need to be refrigerated. Many farm-fresh eggs are stored at room temperature from the time you get them. In the UK, even store-bought eggs are kept unrefrigerated, completely shelf-stable. The difference between the UK and the US is that in the UK, ALL hens are required to be vaccinated for salmonella. However, in the United States, vaccinating hens is a choice– not a requirement. That’s why store-bought eggs in the US are suggested to be refrigerated. Additionally, in the United States, we’re serious about egg washing– which means in addition to washing off the dirt and grime from the freshly laid eggs, we’re also removing that barrier that helps prevent yucky stuff from getting into the eggs. Unfortunately, sometimes in cleaning, we add more dirt. It happens. Bringing them up to room temperature before baking, however, is totally safe.
So, you have a light and fluffy shortening-egg-sugar mixture. You also have a flour mixture, and a milk mixture. Finally, you’re going to make one last addition in a separate measuring cup– 1 cup of mashed bananas. It took 3 very ripe bananas to make a cup.
In small amounts, and alternating between them, add the flour mixture, the milk mixture, and the banana mixture, whisking/stirring after each addition as it continues to thicken from the flour. While I’m positive you could use a Kitchen-Aid or hand mixer, if Grandma Sybil was mixing by hand, so was I. I wanted to try this recipe as authentically as possible– making it just as she did.
Turn the batter into a greased bread tin, and bake for 60-70 minutes. Mine was done after 65 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Remove the bread from the pan, cooling overnight, or at least for several hours, before slicing.
You can, of course, add chopped walnuts to your bread. I chose not to, since my family has enough nuts in it that adding more seemed counter-intuitive.
This bread is really good microwaved for another 10-20 seconds and spread with a little bit of fresh butter.
Once you try it, you’ll realize that it’s a staple recipe, worthy of a hand-written index card in your collection. Hopefully, over time, your copy will become as well-worn and loved as mine, covered in splatters and stains.
The recipe, as Sybil wrote it:
2 cups sifted all purpose flour, 1 tsp soda, 1 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening, 1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 tbl (tablespoon) vinegar plus milk to make 1/2 cup
Broken pecans or walnuts (optional)
Sift together flour, soda, and salt. Cream shortening, blend in sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy. Add flour mixture alternately with bananas and liquid, beating after each addition. Turn into greased bread tin and bake 60 minutes to 70 minutes or until done at 350. Remove from pan and cool several hours or overnight before slicing. Nuts can be added last.
Do you have a favorite old family recipe? Don’t forget, if you love this recipe, or hope to try it, you can pin it on Pinterest, or share it on Facebook to save it to your profile!