My mother's homemade banana bread is my favorite comfort food of all time. A fresh loaf, still warm from the oven, can remedy almost any stressful situation in my life. In many ways, it is my personal (and much healthier) version of valium. No matter the situation, one bite of mom's bread and all my concerns melt away for a few blissful moments. In fact, this bread has such power over me that while I was primping for my wedding ceremony, my brother slipped me a few slices. It was a clever move on his part. Casually snacking on my favorite food was the perfect way to calm my jitters, ensuring I wouldn't faint dead away during my vows (I didn't).
Luckily for me, my mother wrote her banana bread recipe on a card with her name on top, "Carla's Kitchen", and gave it to me when I moved to New York. Since then I have been baking it regularly - as evidenced by the stockpile of bananas in my freezer - and it was even one of my daughter's first solid foods. Of course, like any good home baker, I am always happy to entertain new variations of banana bread recipes. I have tried dozens over the years, even tucking a few into my permanent recipe binder. You might remember that last winter I shared one of Molly's favorite banana bread recipes, when I reviewed her book. I love her method and have made it several times since. However, no matter how interesting or unique the variation, Mom's homestyle version is still my top choice.
I love Naptime Chef-ing banana bread for many reasons, not the least of which are that the batter is a snap to prepare, and the final product guarantees several days of snacking pleasure. Even just being in my apartment while it bakes is a treat in itself. I am always seduced by the aroma of warm banana and sweet spices that wafts through our home, making the process of letting it cool before I dig in an exercise in self-restraint. Sometimes I add chocolate chips as a treat, which adds another delicious element to the sweet fragrance. In my opinion the best thing about this bread is it's genuine banana flavor. It is neat and clean, unadulterated by overwhelming spices or additional ingredients. Instead, the cinnamon and nutmeg gently highlight the fresh banana flavor without muddling it up. This bread is perfect for children, as well. Even though my daughter can't articulate her feelings yet, by the way she devours slice after slice, I can already see that it has become a favorite of hers, too.
Naptime's Perfect Homestyle Banana Bread
adapted from an old handwritten recipe from my mother and grandmother
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
1 t. good vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, mashed (I mash them in a bowl with a fork)
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 t. cinnamon
3/4 c. mini-chocolate chips (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a standard 9x5 loaf pan*.
2. Mix together butter and sugar until fully combined. Add eggs and vanilla extract, mix well. Add mashed bananas, mix again until completely combined.
3. In a separate bowl mix flour, soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and chocolate chips. Stir this mixture a few times and make sure the chips are fully coated with flour.
4. Working slowly, stir flour mixture into egg mixture. Keep stirring until all flour is fully incorporated. The batter may still be a little lumpy from the bananas, this is normal.
5. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean.
6. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then, carefully remove it from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack before serving.
*You can also divide the batter into smaller loaf pans, or mini loaf pans if you want to make smaller breads.
Freezer Tips: This bread freezes well. If you want to save it for later simply wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Then wrap it again with an outer layer of aluminum foil. Make sure none of the bread is exposed to air. It will last in the freezer for 2-4 months.
Naptime Recipe Props: Banana bread goes with just about anything. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dessert. I have even grilled it before - it is delicious this way!
Naptime Stopwatch: The batter preparation takes a brief 5 minutes. Baking breads always takes a long time, this one needs to bake for about 50 minutes.
Naptime Reviews: Banana bread is a regular part of my daughter's diet, she can never get enough. While this is a traditional comfort food, I have served it to guests as well. It is great for serving at playgroup, taking to a potluck, or bringing to a housebound friend.