Granny’s Banana Bread

Banana bread in 9x13 pan, just out of the oven.

Banana bread in 9×13 pan, just out of the oven.

This was my maternal grandmother’s recipe. She used to bake it for me when I was a child. We had 2 huge pecan trees in the backyard which provided a ready source of pecans. Pecans freeze well, so we always had a supply on hand. If you don’t have pecans on hand this is still excellent without them. Something unusual about this recipe is that it has a very fluffy cake-like texture and so is not baked in a loaf pan, but a 9″ x 11″ pan, then cut into kid-sized squares which I ate warm, straight from the pan.

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, smushed
1/4 cup pecans

Melt-in-your-mouth good, hot from the oven!

Melt-in-your-mouth good, hot from the oven!

Use ripe bananas! This means they will have black spots on them. In our household when I was growing up, we called them “sugar spots”. 🙂 No spots: they aren’t ripe and consequently aren’t as sweet. The more spots the sweeter the banana.

Sift the flour together with the salt and baking soda.

Cream together the butter (or margarine) and sugar.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each one is added.

Add smushed bananas and pecans, then add the flour mixture.

Bake at 300-325° in greased and floured 9″ x 11″ pan for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. (I usually bake 325 degrees and just a couple minutes longer with my oven.) Bakes well in 9″ x 11″ pan, however more than one pan of a smaller size could be used. Reduce baking time if smaller pans are used.

Unlike my Granny’s cornbread recipe which was passed down through the generations orally, my mother did actually write this down on an index card, probably because there were more ingredients and measurements to remember and this wasn’t made as often as cornbread. I’ve rewritten the recipe slightly for the sake of clarity and ease of use, but made no changes.

My grandmother was born at the end of the 19th century and had a third grade education. She wrote letters occasionally with an uneven handwriting, but as far as I know she never wrote recipes down. Though she lived with us when I was a kid and did some of the cooking, the index box in the kitchen with neatly lettered recipes was my mother’s. This was a family recipe, probably originating with my grandmother, great-grandmother or my grandmother’s sister. If I had to date the recipe I’d guess early 20th century. (I recently stumbled onto a photo online of a vintage official Chiquita Banana recipe and advertisement which was nothing like this, which strengthens the idea that this recipe was something one of the family matriarchs came up with based on their general knowledge of baking.) Granny had one cookbook, Searchlight Recipe Book, which she may have consulted on occasion (it has a lot of cooking techniques, tips, measurement equivalents etc in it), but the only recipe that I know of which she made from it was the “Dark Fruit Cake” which my father liked (and was the only fruitcake he’d eat). My grandmother cooked good, simple, plain food, and for her that was mostly a matter of putting ingredients together either from memory or instinct. My culinary legacy from my grandmother who helped raise me was Banana Bread, Cornbread, Okra and Tomatoes, and an old (1949) Searchlight cookbook, pages now yellowed, with strange inexplicably stains on recipes that no one had ever made.

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