What’s dense and intense and golden brown all over? Answer: Grandmother Rachel’s banana bread. The intense banana flavor is derived from seriously ripe bananas, and the density can be attributed to baking the batter in a “slow” oven.
Last week while waiting for Dad to be called for his haircut, a banana bread recipe caught my eye as I flipped through the February publication of Good Housekeeping. I hesitated to read further because I had long abandoned my quest for banana bread to rival Grandmother’s. In fact, I have felt like Goldilocks when sampling other people’s banana bread. “Too sweet . . . too cake-y . . . too dry . . . not banana-y enough.”
My eyes caught the word “Grandma” in the title, and I curiously skimmed the list of ingredients. With surprise, I noted that the recipe was as close to Grandmother’s as I had ever seen. Amy Grant, the contemporary Christian music artist, had contributed her Grandma Grant’s banana bread recipe. The only differences between the two are an additional ½ cup of pecans and vanilla extract which Grandmother Rachel included.
However, all experienced cooks know that there’s more to success in the kitchen than following the step-by-step instructions to a great recipe. Quality ingredients are absolutely essential, and, in this case, Grandmother said that only “rotten” bananas would do. She didn’t write down one other necessary ingredient in the “receipt,” but I’ve always followed her example by adding a generous amount of love.
BEST BANANA BREAD
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup chopped pecans
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, bananas and vanilla, mixing well. Combine dry ingredients and stir in banana mixture just until all ingredients are moistened. Stir in pecans. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
These bananas are “just right.”