When I see a recipe blog link on Facebook, I’m generally a little disappointed to find a lengthy post about the food. “I came here for the ‘Speedy Pierogie Balls’, not the story of your life,” I think, and then I scroll to the recipe, missing all the handy hints in the body of the blog (which I later discover were indispensable). Really, I just want to know the ingredients, not how hard it is to find black cardamom in New England in the winter . . . but this is my blog . . . so you might have to wade through an anecdote or two before we get to the mix, so to speak. I hadn’t thought to blog this recipe, but as I squinted at the stained yellow index card, the original blue ink faded to aqua, it occurred to me that if I had to type it for myself, I might as well share it—it’s our favorite banana bread!
There had been a bag of frozen mashed bananas haunting every free moment in my thoughts, so I decided that I would finally fulfill Chris’s hopes since the Christmas goodies dwindled and bake banana bread. (Or “Bwana Bread” as our great-niece Cadence used to call it.) In a refreshing departure from my usual baking plans, I had all the ingredients on hand, ready to go.
The recipe calls for “a pinch of salt”—a reminder of days gone by, when any housewife worth her salt could eye a palmful of seasoning and produce a pretty accurate measure. I am deficient in that talent; I cheat with measuring cups and spoons. “A pinch” always throws me off, however; my tendency to overthink has me wondering at the size of the baker’s fingers as compared to mine. My small pinch might be too paltry, compared to a baker of stouter stock. I settled on the possibility that the average woman might pinch about a quarter teaspoonful of salt, so I measured that amount, and tossed it into the dry ingredients . . . or that was my intent. On the toss, the spoon hit the side of the bowl, overthrowing the salt to the counter top. That made me chuckle a little, but I measured again, tossed again, hit the bowl again, and watched the salt sprinkle to the counter . . . again! I snickered a little, and then laughed out loud as I realized I was actually pinching salt off the counter to put into the bowl. Perhaps that’s where “a pinch” originated.
One important thing to remember with this recipe is that 325° is a slow oven, and that makes this a slooooow bake. The recipe says one hour and 15 minutes, and in my oven, I have to add another 20 minutes to that. My advice is: after the first hour and a quarter, check it by seeing if a knife comes out clean, and if it doesn’t, set the timer for another ten minutes and check it again. You can also, in the last ten to fifteen minutes of baking, raise the oven temperature to 340°. Ready? As they say in the Great British Baking Show: “Bake!”
½ Cup Shortening
1 ½ Cup Sugar
¼ Cup Milk
2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Soda
3 or 4 large bananas, mashed
¼ to ½ Teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
Cream sugar and shortening together, add eggs and milk. Mix flour, salt, soda and spices and add to the wet ingredients, stir in bananas and beat until mixed.
Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake at 325° for one hour and fifteen minutes (or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean). Allow to cool just until it can be handled, then wrap in aluminum foil while it is still very warm. (This keeps it moist all through.)