Old School Banana Bread

My favorite memories of my mom are the times we’d spend all day baking. One of our favorite recipes is after the cut. 

[dropcap4 bgColor=”#4f134d”]T[/dropcap4]he trick to great banana bread is two-fold. First, you need really ripe bananas.  The browner the better. Second, you need fresh flour and fresh baking soda. If you’re like me, your kitchen cabinets are filled with miscellany purchased when Outkast was still playing on the radio. This is no time for baking soda of an uncertain age. Baking soda of an uncertain age belongs in your fridge, sucking up odors.

[fancy_header bgColor=”#4f134d”]Ingredients[/fancy_header]
[fancy_list style=”check_list” variation=”olive”]

  • ½ cup shortening – this is important. Yes, you can use butter. Yes, you can probably replace some of it with applesauce. Shortening will give you the best results, however. Plus, it’s handy to have around if you need to re-season your cast iron.
  • 1 cup sugar – I use white sugar, but I’ve made it with brown sugar, too. It comes out richer and a little darker.
  • 3 over-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soda


[fancy_header bgColor=”#4f134d”]What to Do[/fancy_header]
[fancy_numbers variation=”olive”]

  1. Preheat your oven to 275°
  2. Grease and flour one large or two small loaf pans.
  3. Mix your banana smash, sugar, shortening, milk and eggs.  It’s okay to use an electric mixer at this stage, but you’ll need to mix in the dry ingredients by hand, so you don’t overwork the flour.
  4. Sift and measure the flour, then blend in the soda and salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a third at a time and mix until moistened and free of flour globs, which are gross.
  6. Ladle the batter into prepared pan(s), leaving two inches or so between the top of the batter and the rim of the pan. This is a quick bread, so it doesn’t rise much, but it does need some room.
  7. For one large pan, bake for 2½ hours. For smaller pans, bake for 1½ hours. The bread is done when the top springs back when touched and the sides of the bread pull away from the sides of the pan.
  8. When the bread is done baking, set it on a cooling rack in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then tip the loaves out of the pans and let cool for an additional 20-30 minutes before you slice it. Ideally, you should let it cool on the counter for 3-4 hours, then wrap it and stick it in the fridge overnight. That really brings the flavors together.  I’ve never been able to wait that long, though, so I won’t judge if you can’t either.


Note – every single loaf of banana bread I’ve ever made or eaten has had a bit of goo on the top crust, even if the loaves come out of the oven looking perfect. It is, IMHO, the best part.

And just for giggles, here’s a Lily Allen song about hanging out with her mom.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

16 replies on “Old School Banana Bread”

Is there anything any better for breakfast than a slice of banana bread made the day before, lightly toasted in the toaster oven and smeared with peanut butter?*

If there is, don’t tell me.

*Or Nutella but it’s just unfair to compare Nutella with anything else.

Banana bread didn’t exactly feature on my family’s menu growing up, but now I make smitten kitchen’s banana bread. It has cinnamon and nutmeg and smells and tastes heavenly. I also add tart blueberries, otherwise it gets uniformly sweet.

The family recipe I use for banana bread calls for margarine and it world or much better than recipes I’ve used that call for melted butter. Also, the best tip I’ve ever heard when making fruit or vegetable breads (like zucchini bread and banana bread, of course) is to avoid overmixing the wet and dry ingredients. If overmixed, the breads will be flatter and denser instead of having that nice “head” and fluffy texture.

I’d usually add about half as much yoghurt (by volume) as I have bananas. I’ve never made banana bread with shortening though so I’m not sure how that would affect it. Still, experiments are the best part of baking:)  My favourite one was made using raspberry yoghurt. Nom nom nom.

I’d replace the milk with yogurt. With three bananas, this is already a pretty wet batter, I’m not sure it would hold up with more liquid. Like QoB says, though, it’s a lot of fun to experiment with baking. Try to keep your proportions of liquid to dry the same and you should be fine.

Leave a Reply