Banana Nut Bread – Home Sweet Home

Banana Nut Bread
Banana Nut Bread – recipe in post

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.” 

-Charles Dickens

There’s something powerful about the word “home”.  We strive to define it as something bigger, something more than simple shelter and a place to kick off one’s shoes. It is a place we create for ourselves, something uniquely our own, where we can feel, well… at home.

For me, home means the house I’ve made my own, the place I’ve become such a part of, here with The Fiancé. Our own little niche in the world. It is also a feeling, something he and I carry with us wherever we go, whenever we’re together. But it also means something else… home is a memory. It is my childhood. A nostalgic place where I’m about six years old, building couch forts in my parent’s living room. It is a place where life is easy, and everything is bright and vivid and loud.

There’s something about banana nut bread reminds me of that home, of my childhood… I don’t really remember my parents baking it, nor did I learn to make it from some hand-written heirloom of a recipe… but I do remember cutting thick, warm slices of it in the mornings with my mother, and sneaking seconds (and sometimes thirds) when I thought she wasn’t looking.

She knew, of course.

Now that I’m all grow’d up, banana bread is no longer some elusive thing that appears in the house from time to time – it’s something I am fully capable of bringing into reality out of simple ingredients I always have on hand. I still kind of miss my couch fort, but growing up was so worth it.

Banana Nut Bread and Home
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is a time for home.” – Edith Sitwell
Recipe Notes: Banana nut bread is best made with very soft, ripe bananas. Whenever I have a banana that’s gotten a little too brown for my liking, I peel it, put it in a zip-top bag, and freeze it. Once thawed, the bananas are easy to mash and extra sweet – perfect for banana bread!

Banana Nut Bread

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or more all purpose)
1 1/4 cups walnuts, toasted
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for the pan
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg*
1/4 tsp. orange or lemon zest*
3 large bananas, very ripe, soft, and speckled (see recipe note)
1/4 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
2 large eggs
6 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the pan
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Optional – chocolate chips, cinnamon, splash of rum, etc.
*I love to add nutmeg and citrus zest to my banana nut bread to give it a little more dimension. I use very little, just enough to make you wonder what it is that makes the bread so special, but if you prefer to bring these flavors to the forefront feel free to double the amount.

1.    Preheat oven to 350f., and toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, or until fragrant. When they’re cool enough to handle, chop the walnuts roughly and set aside.
2.    Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5inch loaf pan, then sprinkle about a TBSP of sugar into the pan and tilt the pan to all sides to coat evenly.
3.    In a large bowl, stir together the flours, sugar, baking soda, walnuts, salt, nutmeg, and orange zest. In another bowl, mash together the bananas (thawed if they were frozen), sour cream, eggs, butter, and vanilla.
4.    Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and fold them together with a rubber spatula – be very careful not to over-mix! Stir until the flour is just incorporated.
5.    Pour into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a tooth pic inserted in the center comes out only slightly wet – my advice for banana bread is to keep it a little under-baked so it’s nice and moist. Once done, let cool for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the pan and set on a wire rack to finish cooling. Cut into absurdly thick slices, and enjoy while warm.
Once completely cooled, banana bread can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrapped and kept at room temperature for up to a few days.

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8 Responses to Banana Nut Bread – Home Sweet Home

  1. shannon @ a periodic table January 24, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    Willow, that is the prettiest photo of banana bread i have ever seen, i think. You truly have a way with light (and i am envious). So pretty! Banana bread makes me smile anyway, but yours is extra gorgeous.

    • Willow January 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      Wow – thank you, Shannon! If you mean the top photo, I owe a lot to The Fiance… he’s my hand model / stand in, after all! :)

  2. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes January 24, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    I love your definition of home, yours and mine are very similar – I remember my Mom making banana bread, it wasn’t until my sister bought me the poor college students guide to vegetarian cooking that I baked my first loaf- it is the recipe that I still use today!

    Your suggestion of adding nutmeg or zest is brilliant!

    • Willow January 24, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

      There’s something about the smell of it in the oven that just does me in… haha! You should definitely try the zest, it’s a subtle difference but I love it. :)

  3. Courtney J January 24, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

    It’s funny…I would not even try banana bread until about 6 months ago! My mom made it all the time for my dad and sister, but I never wanted any. I just did not like bananas. *hah* A few months back, my mom made a batch for my boyfriend and I decided to finally steal a bite. WOW. I’ve been missing out!!! I’ll have to give this recipe a shot and make up for lost time! :)

    • Willow January 26, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

      Haha, wow! I’d find it hard to resist freshly baked banana nut bread… it smells so good! Fortunately it isn’t very difficult to make (the only tricky part is being careful to not over-mix the batter, or else the bread will be tough and chewy).

  4. Ula January 26, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    I will definately try this recipe!

    I don’t know if you have ever tried roasting bananas for cake – if not, you should totally try it. I recently did some Banana Muffins ( where they were first roasted with brown sugar, vanilla extract and rum – soooo good and it makes all the difference to the recipe.

    • Willow January 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

      Sounds wonderful! I’ve never tried roasting bananas for baking, but I have seen recipes which call for them to be frozen, thawed, and then cooked to reduce the liquid. I will definitely have to try cooking them with a bit of brown sugar and extract next time – I’m sure it brings out some incredible flavor!

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