Updated: Mar 2
If there's one food that can transport me to another time, it's my grandmother's banana bread.
I can't remember a single family gathering that didn't include this bread. If grandma didn't make it, mom did. It was always there waiting for us when we finished racing down my grandparents' hill. My brother and I paused for bites of it between turns at chutes and ladders. This is one of those recipes that's been around since before electricity and remains practically unchanged.
It is timeless. It is understated. It is the ultimate comfort food.
It's delicious warm, dripping with butter. But I like it even better cold from the fridge, with a dollop of smooth cream cheese.
1/2 c. / 113 g unsalted good quality butter, at room temperature
1 c. / 200 g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5 ripe bananas, mashed with:
1/2 c. buttermilk; or 1/2 c. whole milk + 1 tsp white vinegar
2 1/4 c. / 281 g flour
1 tsp. salt (grandma's recipe literally says "a pinch of salt" but I've found that I prefer a whole teaspoon).
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp nutmeg (optional: I have to confess that this is my own personal addition and was not in the original recipe).
1 c. / 150 g nuts (optional), roasted and chopped.
Preheat oven to 325°F / 163°C.
Grease a metal loaf pan, or line with baking paper.
Measure the milk and stir in the vinegar. Let it sit and curdle. (You just made your own buttermilk!)
Meanwhile, sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, mash the bananas. Add the buttermilk and set aside.
In the Kitchen Aid or electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment till light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla. Continue beating for 1 minute. Be sure to stir the bottom with a spatula half way through to incorporate any butter hiding at the bottom.
Add the banana mixture and the flour. Blend just till mixed through. Finish mixing with a spatula from the bottom up, giving it as few stirs as possible. Overworking the dough will create a dry final product, which is the opposite of our goal.
Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about an hour. Every oven is different, so I recommend checking for doneness at the 40-minute mark Your bread is fragile right now so first, carefully shake the oven door to check for wiggles. If the center seems solid, carefully oven and touch the surface of your bread to see if it bounces back. If a dent remains it needs more time before continuing onto the final step. Internal temperature of fully baked quick bread is 200F. Don't have an internal thermometer? No problem you can do things the old fashioned way: insert a toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean, your bread is fully cooked.
Let the baked bread rest for 20 minutes on a wire rack before loosening the sides with a spatula or butter knife and removing to a cooling rack.
Banana bread keeps (covered) at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for one week, freezer for 3 months.