Saturday, October 30, 2010

Going Bananas

I've mentioned before that Barry likes to make banana smoothies after his workouts.  The corollary to this is that he stockpiles bananas like an acquisitive chimp, and he never manages to consume them all before they start showing brown spots.  He won't eat them after they start softening because he dislikes the texture of even slightly squishy bananas.  Sometimes he'll throw a lightly spotted banana into a smoothie, but generally he just leaves the fruit he considers too old to fester at the bottom of the banana bowl.

All summer long I've been throwing out his rejects, but autumn is here at last, and with it, baking season.  I love to bake, but I don't during the four months when heating up the oven will risk sending our overworked air conditioner into cardiac arrest.  Now, however, the weather is cooling off even in Arizona, and yesterday I made this fall's first batch of banana bread.

I used the recipe that my mother always uses.  I copied it years ago from her stained, handwritten recipe card.  I don't know where it originally came from; she may have invented it or modified someone else's recipe all out of recognition, as was so often the case with the food I remember from my childhood.  At any rate, this is one of the few recipes I usually follow exactly because it's so easy and tastes so good that I don't want to tamper with perfection.

Lillian's Banana Nut Bread

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
3 Tbl sour milk (or regular milk with a little lemon juice added)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 mashed very ripe large bananas
1 cup chopped nuts

Cream the sugar and butter together.  Mix in the eggs, soda, and milk.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend.  Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (at least 1 hour).  Remove from pan and cool.

For a slightly healthier version, replace half the flour with whole wheat and half the sugar with brown sugar and add some raisins.  The riper the bananas are, the sweeter they'll be and the more easily they'll mix with the other ingredients, but they shouldn't yet be leaking fluids or developing science-project mold.  If you don't have an hour for baking, use muffin tins instead of a loaf pan and bake 15-20 minutes.


“Talk of joy: there may be things better than beef stew and baked potatoes and home-made bread - there may be.” ~David Gayson


  1. Re Banana Smoothies... we've always loved them, but found, as you have, that our supply of bananas far exceded our capacity for these yummy shakes. However, a great solution is to peel and freeze the fruit ( roll each one up in a "blanket" of saran wrap, then pop them all into a large freezer beg. Even frozen, they're soft enough to process easily in a blender, and you end up with a deliciously creamy ( and healthy ) frozen treat.
    Oh course, it's always nice to have an excuse to bake, too... either way, no need for the bananas to wither away unappreciated!

  2. Wow, I never thought of individually wrapping the bananas - that would prevent the Giant Banana Icicle I got the last time I tried freezing some. Thanks, Nina!