Monday, 1 September 2014

Zaza's Banana Bread (Two Ways)

A few weeks ago, I was at a family party and I was chatting with my Grandmother's sister, reminiscing about "Zaza" as we fondly called her. We were talking about my latest new recipe, and I exclaimed what a fantastic baker Zaza was. Her sister unabashedly corrected me, saying, "no, your Zaza wasn't that great of a baker..." But simultaneously, we both agreed that her most memorable recipe was her Banana Bread.

Some families pass on heirloom furniture, others china plates. My family seems to pass on recipes. My grandfather's mother, Gran, passed on a real English shortbread recipe, and I left my father's family with a true Swedish recipe for Pepparkakor (both recipes to follow at a later date). Zaza, who we lost just last year, left her legacy of Banana Bread.

It is a simple, no-fuss recipe, with just a few easy tricks that make it out-of-this-world delicious. It is perfect to bring as a "comfort food" to a friend that needs it. It also freezes very well so it can be prepared in double batches, with one loaf saved for later. I served it at my "midnight table" at my wedding, so we could have a little memory of Zaza there. 

Enjoy this recipe that is very dear to my heart - bake it with love!

Below is the "standard" recipe from my grandmother. For a my adapted vegan version of this recipe, click here.

Zaza's Banana Bread

These are the kind of bananas that you're looking for!
1/3 cup of shortening or margarine
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup ripe, brown bananas (about 3) 

Tip: the bananas make this recipe. The best kind are those you'd turn up your nose at if offered as a snack: browned, bruised bananas. If you have any, pop them in the freezer. Once you've collected three, you're ready to make a batch of this ooey-gooey banana bread. To defrost your bananas, use my trick found here

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In your stand mixer, beat shortening/margarine until creamy and glossy (about 2 min on electric beater). 
  3. Mash bananas well with a fork so
    that you don't get a lumpy loaf!
  4. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy after each addition.
  5. Add eggs and beat until thick and lemon in color
  6. In a large bowl, Sift dry ingredients (DO NOT skip this step!)
  7. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mash bananas: 
  8. Alternately add dry ingredients with bananas - about 3 additions of each. Blend thoroughly. 
  9. Grease bottom ONLY of a loaf pan (23.5x13.3x6.99cm / 9.25x5.25x2.75in loaf pan recommended). 
  10. Turn batter into pan.
  11. Bake 60-70 min at 350° until inserted toothpick comes out clean (top of loaf will crack).
  12. Let bread partly cool for 5 minutes, then turn onto wire cooling rack. Flip so that the top of the loaf is facing up. 
  13. Serve warm with butter, or refrigerate for easier cutting.

Chocolate chip (my favorite!): add one cup+ of  chocolate chips after bananas. Stir well.
Christmas loaf: add one cup mixed candied fruits after bananas. Stir well. 
Adding nuts/raisins: add 1/2 cup coarsley chopped nuts/raisins after bananas. Alternately, sprinkle 1.4 cup chopped nuts on top of loaf just prior to baking. 

Freezing your loaf:
Wrap whole loaf in a layer of plastic wrap, covering well. Wrap with a layer of aluminium foil, then a final layer of plastic wrap, pulling the layers tightly together. Freeze 6 months + if it's well-wrapped (but I doubt it will last that long in your freezer). 

The recipe I originally printed out in high school: tired and full of crumbs! 

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