Recently I culled my overflowing cookbook shelf before the whole thing collapsed onto the floor. One of the books I got rid of was Paula Deen’s Kitchen Classics, which my parents had gotten for me after visiting her restaurant in Savannah years ago. I am not a fan of her recent public foibles, but she has done a good job over the years of capturing a particular kind of basic Southern cooking which I remember fondly from my childhood. Before I got rid of the book, I copied two pages – one for banana bread and one for zucchini bread. I made the banana bread the other day, and yep, that’s the banana bread I remember as a kid. The only change I made was to bake in two smaller loaf pans so I could throw one in the freezer for later.
From Paula Deen’s Kitchen Classics
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 ripe bananas, mashed**
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. In a mixing bowl***, combine the butter and sugar; mix well. add the salt, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and bananas, and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes.
*I went a little scant on the sugar, because a cup seemed like a lot, and it was plenty sweet. I would aim for 2/3 to 3/4 a cup next time. Much depends on your personal preference, as well as how sweet your bananas are.
**I had the rest of a bunch to use up, so I think I used 5. Really, you can’t go wrong with more bananas. At least 2 cups, mashed, I would guess.
***Deen points out that you don’t need a mixer for this recipe and she’s right, especially if you want a more chunky texture in your finished bread. But it does mean that you need to mash the bananas separately first, and preferably whip your eggs, so you end up dirtying more bowls that way. Also, if you are going to mix by hand, make sure your butter is very soft – literally room temp the whole way through, not just pulled out of the fridge a few minutes ago – or you’ll never get the sugar and butter to cream together unless you’re a professional arm wrestler or something.