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Monday, March 2, 2009

GreGra's Banana Bread

Yesterday morning was gorgeous! The sun was streaming through the kitchen window forming a natural spotlight on my teeny tiny workspace...beckoning, if you will. So, I used my moment in the sun to make banana bread. This is not just any banana bread, oh no...this recipe has been in my family for generations. I can remember being a little girl in the kitchen helping my mom smash up those brown, fragrant bananas...getting out the big chunks...making them smooth. A deep, golden yellow liquid smooshing through the tines of my fork. When making this recipe, one must use a FORK to mix the whole thing. If you don't use just a fork, it will not turn out right. I promise it won't. My mother taught me to make this bread. My grandma taught her to make it. You guessed great grandma (GreGra) taught my grandma to make it. I don't know how far back the family tradition spans, but I have always, always, always considered this bread our secret family recipe!!

As I was making the bread, I was taking pictures and questioning myself. "Are you really going to share this recipe you've guarded so vehemently your whole life? You're going to give it away? Post it for the whole world to see? Psht...the whole world is NOT going to see it. Share it. Pass it on. Send it out for more people to love, after all you can't not share want people to know this banana bread is the BEST banana bread!" It was honestly a very hard decision to share this recipe. It is the one and only recipe I've ever "guarded". People have asked me for it over the years, and I've always forgotten to give it to them next time I ran into them. "Oops, silly me...ha! I forgot to write that down. Sorry." Maybe it was the sun, encouragingly warmly and friendly, that made me decide to share the recipe with you. Maybe I just want more people to eat great banana bread. I don't know, but I took photos and wrote down the recipe (tucked away safely in that recipe box in my head...has been for years) and now I am prepared to share the recipe with you.

Well, once I walked outside into the cold...those warm, fuzzy thoughts vanished. I'm sorry...I just can't do it. I want to pass this recipe down to my kids and I want them to pass it down to their children. I want it to stay a secret family recipe. Actually, I'm not even sure that the rest of my family keeps it a secret. So, if you met my grandma or my mom or my sisters, they may give you the actual recipe...guess I'll just have to risk it. But, I did make a substitute recipe that tastes almost exactly (I know, oxymoron...but true) the same as the actual GreGra's Banana Bread recipe. Honestly, it really does. I just left out one little step and added a substitution. Okay, most people probably wouldn't even be able to tell the difference if they tasted the two breads side by side...but I would.
GreGra's Banana Bread (almost)
from the kitchen of girlichef

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
1 c. granulated sugar
1 Tbs. buttermilk (or sour milk)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs, room temp.
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 BIG pinches Sea Salt
2 VERY RIPE bananas
1/2 c. nuts (optional) ...yummy w/ walnuts

First rule: You MUST, MUST, MUST use a fork to mix all ingredients! A mixer will over mix the batter, making it tough. Over the years, I've evolved the recipe so that the whole thing can be made in one large mixing bowl (so, use a large mixing bowl for this). Preheat the oven to 325° F.

1. In large bowl, cream butter & sugar well (try to make it as "un" grainy as possible).

2. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Stir in to butter/sugar mixture. Push over to side of bowl.

3. Add eggs to side of bowl. Whip the eggs up lightly, then stir into mixture.
4. Stir in flour and salt. Push to the side of the bowl. Add the two VERY ripe bananas. Mash against side of bowl & into each other until they are all smooshed up with almost no chunks left. Stir them into the rest of the mixture. Add nuts if using.

5. Pour all into a foil-lined loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Do Not over bake...the space between the cracks on top of the bread will still look slightly moist...that's okay. The heat will finish cooking it after you've taken it out of the oven and set it on a rack to cool. So, in my opinion...err on the side of underdone. Bread will have that moist, tacky feel this way. If it over bakes, it gets dried out and loses it's lovely banana flavor.
 6. Once it's cooled in the pan for about half an hour, I use the foil to lift it out to finish cooling. I swear by leaving a large overhang of foil when making this bread. If you feel the top is getting too brown in the oven, you can fold the foil over it. Once it's done...and you've sliced some to eat, you can use the foil to wrap it back up.
If you make the bread this will be so moist you don't even need to slather it with butter...but it's really good slathered with butter, too! 
 Don't forget your spatula licker!
*Update 1/1/11: This was one of my very first posts here at girlichef!  This is still my personal favorite banana bread (but of course) and I still don't have any qualms about keeping ONE family recipe a secret.  I've heard some people who are extremely adamant about "no secret recipes"...what can I say?  Perhaps you just don't have any cherished family recipes?  Either way...looking back at this post floods me with the nervous newness that blogging was to me...and reminds me of how far I've come.  Those pictures. EEK! LOL!  

*Update 9/24/11: I've reposted this recipe with new pictures and words...find it HERE!

Would you like to comment?

  1. yum! that looks just delicious! i adore banana bread :) and that's one mighty cute spatula licker :)

  2. My son and I love banana bread but my daughter and hubby run from it like insect repellent. I make it anyway, with blueberries. yummy....all for you keeping the secret

  3. ...banana bread has always been a favorite in the fam (obviously)...but oooooooh, Blueberry Banana bread I need to try next time :)

    And thanks Heather & Jennifer :)

  4. Great post. I love that you share the stories behind the food. And I can't blame you for guarding your family secret. ; )

  5. Thanks for sharing your 'almost' family recipe! I think it's wonderful how far back the recipe can be traced. It deserves to be coveted! It looks delicious and has a great texture probably from being fork mixed.

  6. You've already shared the secret ingredients and techniques: happy memories of wonderful women and smooshing the bananas with a fork! No doubt this 'almost' GreGra's recipe is tasty. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I love your addition of sea salt to this bread. I love your step-by-step pictures!

  8. Love this bread it looks wonderful. I love all baking with bananas. Just stumbled upon your blog. Glad I did.

  9. can't wait to make this recipe! Thanks so much for sharing it. I LOVE your music on your blog too! Gosh, I want to travel now!
    Thanks for visiting my blog this morning!

  10. I've got bananas screaming to be made into bread sitting on my counter. I have to admit though - I don't understand the secret recipe thing. I respect you for it, but we've just never kept secret recipes in my family. Thanks for sharing the substitute recipe!

  11. Hi's not actually a secret within the family...for some reason this recipe is just near & dear to me and I've always "held" it as a sort of family treasure (& like I said...I think it may just be me who feels like this). I almost don't understand it myself, cuz I love to share food & recipes normally (it's just this one)! But really, this recipe does taste the same, it's just that I know (for myself) that the secret is safe :) Thanks for commenting, though!

  12. oh my goodness that looks so good! I want a piece!

  13. very similar to my family's favorite recipe - always a winner - something we NEVER grow tired of

  14. Thanks for sharing the almost recipe! I'm sure it's delicious, though not as special to you as your GreGra's recipe. Everybody's entitled to at least one recipe they don't have to share. :)

  15. I totally get secret family recipes.... I've got a chef friend who swears there's no such thing as a secret and I guess that's good cause he shares with me! There are definitely recipes that I never give out....I just cook for my friends and look at their faces when they take a bite.

    Thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul and being an awesome hostess.

  16. I can sure see why this would be one your favorites. I intend to try this recipe very soon. Thank you for sharing and hosting us today. You have a great week!

  17. You know, I'd eat a treasured family recipe like that even if it tasted like crud just because I love the magic of tradition. But I know that the only reason a recipe gets passed down through that many generations is because it tastes amazing. Thanks for sharing the secret with the Hearth and Soul hop.

    p.s. I'm kinda jealous that you were such an amazing blogger right from the jump.

  18. Hi Heather! Happy new year to you and your wonderful family. I think if a recipe speaks to you and says it is only for you and your family then you keep it treasured. Period. My mother makes our wedding cakes. Seriously, hundreds of pounds of english fruit cake coated in martzipan, soaked in rum and cognac and coated with royal icing. Her mother made hers, my mother made mine and I will make my daughter at least a small one and you will never EVER have the recipe out of me unless you have a dna test to proove you are my sibling! LOL So yes, I get it. I also love that you are revisiting older and wonderful posts, especially ones as special as GreGra's banana bread--well, almost. Thanks so much for hosting and posting on the hearth and soul hop! hugs! Alex

  19. Thank you. I have bananas ready for this recipe (doubled, LOL). What is AP flour? Sorry to be a ninny, but not sure about that ingredient.

  20. Sorry about that ShirlinHI! It just means All Purpose flour, I've changed it in the recipe for clarification! =)