Somewhere, in the dark depths of my mom’s recipe stores, there sits an old, yellowed notecard. In my mom’s borderline-indecipherable handwriting, the words, “Beth’s Friend’s Banana Bread” are scrawled across the top. I have no idea who Beth is. And I most certainly don’t know Beth’s friend.
What I do know, however, is that she made some KILLER banana bread.
The best you will ever taste.
Mother dearest has been baking this recipe for as long as I can remember. Both she and Dad are wonderful cooks, but this wonderfully moist loaf of banana-y goodness is, arguably, her specialty. In fact, she keeps that old yellow notecard lovingly tucked in the “B” section of her recipe box, but I can’t remember the last time she used it. Even amidst working full-time and raising a family, she manages to know by heart how to make the best banana bread known to man.
Of course, Mum also had time made time to teach me the “secret family recipe.” Toddling around the kitchen, I would ask her, “Mumma, when are you going to make banana bread?”
She would respond, “As soon as the bananas are really ripe. Want to help me?”
So brother and I would wait, getting excited when we finally saw the tell tale sign—3 dappled bananas, deep golden yellow with kisses of black.
Soon after, we’d be fighting over the last lick of batter, while we willed 70 minutes to go by faster. And then, magic: warm banana bread with a crispy gold-brown crust and sweet, luscious interior. Devoured, without fail, within 24 hours.
As soon as I learned how to bake and use the oven, I made a point to make Mom’s banana bread. (Actually, it may have been the first thing I ever baked?!). To this day, I still make her banana bread, both for family at home and friends at Georgetown. Regardless of where or when I make the bread, it never seems to disappoint.
And regardless of how many times I make it, I still think of that yellowed notecard, of Beth, of Beth’s friend, and perhaps most importantly, of Mom and I making banana bread together.
The Best Banana Bread Ever (a.k.a Beth’s friend’s Banana Bread)
My mom has been making this bread for as long as I can remember for good reason—it never lasts more than a day in our house. Always a huge crowd pleaser, this banana bread is sweet but not too sweet and seriously addictive. The addition of walnuts adds a perfect crunch that I (as well as Mom) highly, highly recommend. I’ve never found a better b-bread, and I doubt I will. If you’re still on the hunt for that illusive “best banana bread ever, I recommend giving this one a go!
Adapted from Mom’s banana bread recipe
(Can be gluten free, vegan, and whole-grain)
3 large (or 4 small) overripe bananas (the blacker, the better)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg [Note: To make this vegan, try using 1 flax egg or 1/4 cup pureed silken tofu]
1/4 cup melted butter (or margarine, vegan is fine)
1 1/2 cups flour [Note: See comments below for GF/whole grain option.
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and grease a 9x5 loaf pan.
2) Mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork, ricer, or potato masher until smooth. Some small lumps are okay. Beat in sugar, egg, and butter/margarine
3) Whisk in flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring until just combined. Fold in chopped walnuts. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for 70 minutes, testing doneness with a toothpick.
Easy as 1-2-3!
…But just incase that was too much for a Wednesday, let’s learn how to make banana bread old school—just like how Mom showed me.
Grab a bowl. You want it to be fairly big so you can properly smush all the bananas.
Using a fork, ricer, or potato masher (my four-year-old self’s personal favorite), smush the bananas until smooth. Got a few lumps? No problemo. This is art, not science.
Add in all da wet stuff. Feel free to use an egg substitute and vegan margarine/buttery spread instead, if that’s how you roll. With only 1/2 cup of sugar, we can call this a healthy-ish endeavor.
Now for the dry ingredients. Mix in the flour, baking soda, and salt until everything is well-combined, but don’t overmix. Mom always used regular AP flour, but if you’re looking for a gluten free or whole-grain option, try using oat flour.The result will be slightly more dense and grain-y but not in a bad way. If this is your first time making it, I’d recommend trying the AP flour, just so you can try Mom’s traditional recipe.
Fold in the walnuts. You could skip this, but the nuts really add an extra oomph to this bread. Do you really want to miss out on oomph? Didn’t think so.
Bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes. Resist the urge to peak. That’s Dad’s job.