The Banana Bread Recipe

Long ago, on a hot summer afternoon in 2005, two professional young woman bantered back and forth on email trying to carve out and finish multiple conversations. One was on maternity leave, the other finding herself, working at a local arts council after leaving a stable corporate job.

Their emails were filled with affection and updates on their days, motherhood, marriage, gossip about friends and weekend plans.

Prior to the onset of civil pleasantries, a recipe for banana bread was shared. A no-fail recipe with chocolate chips. The receiver of the email (me) was spending some time honing her domestic cooking skills and asked one of the great bakers/cooks she knew, her friend L., for the recipe. Now, eleven years is a long time and I cannot remember if I had L.’s banana bread and that’s why the recipe was shared or I was just trying to fill up my empty cooking journal with something that was easy and delicious. Maybe it was because my partner, Mr. L, loves banana bread and I wanted to make something special. The reason is not very important really, what matters is that today, in February 29, 2016, that reciepe exists.

Folded neatly into a cooking reference book my grandmother made years ago to store recipe and meal ideas (perhaps hoping I would turn out to be a domestic wonder in the kitchen), the recipe comes out every so often. Still printed on the same paper, it brings a smile to my face each time I use it as I wonder if L. knows how much I reread one of our hundreds of emails to each other over the years and use this long ago shared recipe.

Just last week, I pulled the recipe out and asked myself,  “Why can’t I commit this recipe to memory?” After all, I’ve been making it for 11 years, yet, for some reason it will not stick in my brain. The banana bread produced each time has been a hit with my now three children, friends and family members. It is often requested by people who have tried it.

I realized at last, on a cold day last week, I really don’t want to memorize the recipe. If I did, that would mean I would have no need for the paper, or be able to read the email exchange written beneath. I wouldn’t smile remembering that person long ago who had just found out she was pregnant after a long year and a half of trying, had visited her friend L. and her little girl so happy for all of them and was just starting to orient herself in a new community. A woman nearing thirty who was battling tiredness, loss of appetite and the heat.

So instead, I kept it. I tried not to spill anything on it and as soon as I’m done it goes back into the special recipe binder. I have treasured this piece of paper and the person who took time out of her busy day as a new mama to send her friend a Banana Bread Email .

For those who want an easy, no-fail banana bread recipe, I give you my friend’s Banana Bread recipe. Take it from a parent of three or more kids, it is delicious and it is a keeper.

Banana Bread Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas (can substitute half with applesauce in a pinch, still tastes good)

Chocolate chips – optional – quantity determined as desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9.5 inch loaf pan. (I use butter but whatever you want.) In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter in prepared loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven for 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into centre of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.




11 thoughts on “The Banana Bread Recipe

  1. I totally get needing to look at the actual recipe. I have one for a “Texas fruit cake” in my grandmother’s handwriting. She died 15 years ago, and I treasure that little piece of paper.

  2. For the first time in years, I just made banana bread last week. The domestic muse was whispering in my ear and for once, I paid attention. Love to see your storied recipe, and especially the reason you don’t memorize it. How perfect is that?

    I have my mom-in-law’s recipe for chili sauce. Typed out on a half-size sheet of note paper and titled Chili Sauce 1971. After decades of being at her mother’s side in chili sauce season, she decided it would be smart to write it down as the two of them peeled, chopped, boiled and stirred. Then she typed it out at work the next day. Twice. She typed one for me.

    Her own mother passed away that winter. Premonition or just good timing? It doesn’t matter because not only does that yellowed scrap of typed up paper hold my husband’s grandmother’s words (in August, not September. Tomatoes are too juicy in September) it holds the heart of her daughter, my mother-in-law. Who I still miss more than 10 years after her passing.

    Thanks Rebecca for writing this homage to friendship and the ways we remember one another. I’m making that banana bread tonight. Chocolate chips and all. Chili sauce on the side.

    • Beautifully written of your own experience Ruth, thanks for commenting. 😉 And if you feel inclined to ever share that chili sauce, I’m always on the look out for recipes with meaning. Those are the ones that stick. Enjoy the banana bread, my last batch was filled with chocolatey goodness and the best to date. But, perhaps it was my little extra attention to it this time around.

  3. Rebecca, beautiful blog! You worded your memories in such an eloquent way that I felt as though I was there with you. How lovely to have captured this moment in time. Do you happen to remember a recipe for raspberry scones? I recall an afternoon (which was for our book club) from late 2006/early 2007. Does this ring a bell? 🙂

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