Banana bread has been a fixture in my life, for as long as I can remember. As a child, my grandmother would send loaves, along with M&Ms and black jelly beans to my family when we lived across the country at a time when air travel and telephone calls were very expensive. I am so grateful for modern communication because back then bridging distance was difficult outside of a weekly phone call on Sunday when the rates were the lowest, letters and and care packages and by comparison to today's texting, twittering, blogging, emailing and video chatting, I may as well have grown up during the westward expansion and crossed the country in a Conestoga wagon. I compare it to my great grandparent's living through the transition from horse and wagon to automobiles, but how far I digress from banana bread. Once my family moved back across the country to be near family, my grandmother's banana bread became a staple in my life again. We had it nearly every Sunday when she didn't make blueberry muffins or if she came up for dinner, she would bring a couple loaves for us along with her magazines (she was an avid magazine reader - the big three - Good Housekeeping, McCall's, and Better Homes and Gardens). I find that, I too, give loaves of banana bread away to family. It is such an easy item to make and it freezes so well that I like to keep a few in the freezer at all times. I always wonder how many loaves my grandmother kept in her freezer at a time, as we have a largish family and she kept all of us well supplied. She had big chest freezer in the basement where she kept it but I was never able to get a peek in that freezer as we weren't allowed to go down in the basement as it had a dirt floor and "lots of things to get hurt on," as she would say and would still say if I wanted to go down there and poke around.
Banana bread was one of the first scratch cakes I made. In my small kitchen, I remember admiring the brown loaf and appreciating the heavenly reminiscent smell. I felt proud. Later when I was working, I liked to bring a piece to work to eat with my afternoon earl grey tea - it would give me great comfort and now when I drink earl grey I always go back to those early working days. Now my kids love it and I am amazed at the size of slices they cut for themselves. I hope when they grow up they have fond memories of this amazing bread.
Makes 1 large loaf or 3 small loaves
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup butter or organic vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or spray pan (s).
Mix flour, spices, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a stand mixer, on medium speed cream butter and brown sugar.
Add eggs and bananas and mix until light.
Alternate one third of flour mixture and one half of milk beginning and ending with flour. Mix until combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and baked for 50-60 minutes until cake tester pushed into the center is crumb free.