Fresh Direct screwed something up in our last order, and they sent us two massive bunches of bananas. We’ve been making Bananas Foster practically daily, but we’ve reached the point where the bananas are nearly molten and it’s time to bake them into something. I was all set to make a recipe I’d found online from a trusted source, but the moment I started in on prep and I started to mash banana flesh, the scent transported me to another time and place.
Sixth grade, Taipei American School, Taiwan. I was on the yearbook staff—it was an after-school activity. We had three faculty sponsors who helped make the yearbook, but the only one I remember is Ms. Patterson, the Home Ec teacher. (Random sidenote: on a family vacation to Bali in 6th grade, Ms. Patterson was staying at the same resort as us. I can only imagine now how annoying it would be to run into a student while on vacation! I promise I didn’t harrass her overly much.)
As a fundraiser for the yearbook, we all took over the Home Ec kitchens and baked banana bread. Then at the annual Food Fair, we sold our wares. The Food Fair was an awesome yearly event on campus where different groups (and maybe restaurants? I don’t know.) would set up tables with food from around the world to buy and taste. It’s where I had satay for the first time—I definitely remember that. And it was also a place where the parents and kids could come, and the parents could socialize and eat while the kids ran around the place with abandon.
Anyway, I remember making this banana bread for the Fair, then getting the recipe from Ms. Patterson, because my family loved it so much. Thankfully, when I started living on my own my mom made me a recipe book of family favorites, so I had the recipe handy. I promptly abandoned the other banana bread for this one.
Licking the bowl after making the batter was transportive. I was 11 years old again, baking banana bread with my friends after school. I was carrying a tray of banana bread slices to offer as free samples to entice people to come buy the bread (that was my friend Beth’s idea).
TAS Banana Bread (as my mom noted in the recipe “TAS Food Fair”)
2 sticks butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cream butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, baking soda, and salt together. Add the flour mixture to the butter. Mix the vanilla into the bananas and fold this into the batter. Stir in the nuts.
Pour into a greased + floured loaf pan and bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
And oh boy does it taste so good, even when it’s not tied up in memories. The wheat flour gives it a bite and a quality that other banana breads lack, in my opinion. This one calls for no spices, but there’s no reason not to tuck some in. I think nuts are crucial, personally—in fact, I believe all baked goods for which nuts are optional are better with them (cookies, brownies). If you were one of those people who like chocolate chips in your banana bread (I am not one of these people), I’m sure the batter would hold up to their melty gooeyness.
You just can’t go wrong with this banana bread.