I’m not saying that my banana bread has ‘been around’, but it has definitely been places. This recipe has followed me around the world and back and is the standard by which I measure every new oven in every new place that I’ve been. One of the smartest cooking moves I’ve ever done is to make this banana bread hundreds of times. I know if an oven is running hot or cool based upon how it turns out. You’d think we’d be sick of it by now, but it is one of my kids most requested after school treats. I make it for breakfast or I’ll make it when a last minute visitor says they are coming over for coffee and I need to whip something up in five minutes. Five minutes is all it takes and when that visitor walks in they are smelling banana heaven. The fact is that I can never, ever throw out an over ripe banana. It’s just not in my character to do so. Into the freezer it goes, awaiting the day that I defrost with a companion in the microwave and give its life new meaning.
The last time I made banana bread, I had to search quite a while for the recipe card (yes this recipe is so old it is on paper!) only to find that I had put it in a ‘special’ place so as not to misplace it. I don’t know about you but I do this a lot with objects that I don’t want to lose only to spend extra time looking for it in the end. Pretty counterproductive but also a character flaw of mine. I keep on telling myself that I should just get it over an memorize it ‘just in case’ but I adore reading the recipe from its original batter splattered recipe card. My gut tells me that if I added it to my allrecipes list or saved it on the computer or even just wrote it down on a new card I would immediately bring bad luck to my banana bread endeavors forevermore, or even tempt bad kitchen juju. I’m hoping that this photo of the original card does not tempt the banana bread gods.
See, I wasn’t joking. It is pretty dirty and used.
Today, as I sat reading the new Nigellissima cook book I got at Costco, I stopped reading at the Italian Banana Bread page (page 188). It occurred to me that I hadn’t made it in a while and I thought maybe I could augment my recipe with some of Nigella’s ‘Italian’ tricks. My original recipe does not have any vanilla in it and I thought that it would be a safe addition. However, espresso powder sounded a little more ‘ballsy’ and Italian. I didn’t have any instant, so I just ground up some beans. It doesn’t look pretty but I bet it will be mighty tasty. If I’m going to add anything at all to the batter the kids do prefer chocolate chips but I’m partial to walnuts. They’ll make a little face this afternoon and ask why I didn’t put any chocolate in but I’ll guarantee you the banana bread will be gone by morning.
First, start by creaming the butter and sugar together. This is where I added the ground espresso, probably around 3 teaspoons of it. I also mashed the banana with the salt and vanilla extract as directed by Nigella. I then added the eggs and banana mixture to the butter/sugar and mixed it all up.
Dry ingredients get dumped in next and then I usually stir a couple of times before I add either nuts or chocolate chips. Pour into the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes at 350F. I always check to make sure it is baked through using a toothpick. Keep in mind that if you have larger clumps of bananas it might look like it isn’t done when in reality the toothpick is just coated with banana, not batter.