If vintage cookbooks and recipes are good for one thing, it’s to give today’s cooks basic recipes to revisit and revise, especially recipes like banana bread. I’m a finicky banana eater. If our bananas have any brown spots at all, I immediately give them to Kevin and turn my back on their starchy goodness. In fact, I like bananas that still have a hint of green on them so that they’re almost a little crunchy when I take the first bite. I know, I know, green bananas aren’t very banana-y yet, it’s more a texture thing than anything else.
Which is to say, as soon as our bananas show any hint of ripeness, I begin to scour our cookbooks for banana bread recipes. Even though everyone has the best banana recipe (seriously, ask any home cook and they will always have one that has been passed down from various aunties or family friends) I haven’t found one that I can call my own.
I should just use my grandmother’s, but hers involves a layer of cream cheese frosting, so while it’s technically a banana bread, I feel a little guilty having a thick slice in the mornings. Although when I was a kid, my sister and I would methodically eat our banana bread from the bottom up so that we could save the frosting-lined piece for the very end. What bliss!
But I digress. I looked through cookbook after cookbook and found many strange recipes for banana bread. A few recommended that the banana bread be served as sandwich bread and, for the life of me, I cannot imagine eating a ham sandwich on banana bread. *shudders* I also found many recipes from c. 1900 that touted the use of banana flour. Banana bread as we now know it came about in the 1950s, as this ad from a 1953 issue of Life magazine suggests. Perhaps, if I can’t get a job in academia, I can bake banana bread to make some cash!
This recipe comes from the 1962 printing of The Good Housekeeping Cookbook. It’s a solid, base recipe, and I am going to start tweaking it with some whole-grain flour next. It was flavorful and had a very good crumb. I was even able to use my new (well, new to me) enameled cast iron Copco bread pan. I *loved* this bread pan because it made the entire bread have a great brown crust!
Adapted from the 1962 Good Housekeeping Cookbook
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup and 1 tbsp. butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 mashed bananas
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9″x5″3″ loaf pan.
2. Mix together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
3. With electric mixer cream butter and sugar, then add eggs until mixture is fluffy and light.
4. Add flour mixture alternatively with bananas until just mixed.
5. Stir in walnuts and turn into pan.
6. Bake for 1 hour.