Every family has its set of recipes that are made time and time again. I can certainly name a couple: chicken noodle soup, gingersnaps, my grandmother’s pesto, lasagna, and banana bread. My mom’s banana bread, in particular, has been a staple in our family over the years.
My mom’s banana bread was a recipe she made on ordinary days. It wasn’t fancy but was a very delicious bread. While she likely made it on occasion during the weekdays, it appeared most often on the weekends. I would wake up, likely around 9 or 10 am when I was living at my parents home, often to the sound of my father vacuuming the stairs near my bedroom. Whether he was oblivious to it or purposely creating a racket as a tactic to get me out of bed, I don’t know. I would slide out of bed, trek downstairs and open the wood sliding door to the kitchen. My mom would be moving about the kitchen chopping some vegetables, putting on a pot of homemade chicken stock for dinner that night, or spaghetti sauce to freeze. On the counter near the sink and the large window overlooking our backyard would be the loaf of freshly baked banana bread cooling on the cutting board on top of the pan in which it was baked. Once she heard me walk in, she would welcome me into the kitchen and start slicing half pieces onto a plate and immediately offer me a slice.
Fast forward many years and this banana bread is still as present as ever. Whether my husband and I are there for the weekend or my parents are visiting us in the city, this banana bread always seems to appear (not unlike a Subaru in Seattle) as a sense of comfort, familiarity, and love. While this banana bread is often offered on a plate in my parent’s home, I’ve eaten it frequently out of a plastic Ziplock bag in the car after an outing with my mom, making sure to brush away the crumbs so my husband won’t find the evidence.
I’ve been searching for my own recipe for several years and finally have settled on one. While this isn’t my mom’s loaf, a classic Betty Crocker recipe she still makes today, this recipe is as comforting and homey as my mother’s–but without the shortening.
I’ve made this loaf gluten-free, however, you are welcome to sub all-purpose flour for the gluten-free and sorghum flours if gluten is not a concern for you. This banana bread is perfect. It is moist with a robust flavor from the addition of Muscovado sugar (if you choose to add it). After making at least a dozen loafs, I have finally found the one that feels like home.
Modified from Bon Appetit, September 2008 and Orangette
1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (e.g., Namaste)
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup organic cane sugar (can sub half brown sugar or Muscovado)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 medium bananas, smashed until smooth
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup honey
¼ cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp. cane sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 ½ Tbsp. dark brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a typical-sized loaf pan with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper, letting the excess hang over the sides which helps to easily remove it later on.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the banana, eggs, oil, honey, vanilla, and water. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined. Fold in walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
In a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients. Sprinkle a few tablespoons over the batter and save the rest for later. It makes a nice topping for french toast or oatmeal.
Bake the bread until a tester or knife inserted into its center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool the bread in the pan for 30 minutes. Then remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely before slicing (if you can wait that long). Serve as is or toast a piece on the stove with a little butter until the bread is crisp and darkened in color. Then close your eyes and take a bite, pretending you are one of those chefs on the Food Network or Renee Erickson who serves an outstanding piece of butter-toasted zucchini bread at The Whale Wins in Seattle. Trust me it’s worth it.