One of my wedding gifts was an eclectic collection of vintage cookbooks. One of the more unlikely among the set (for a Northeasterner like myself) was the Southern Junior League Cookbook, circa 1977. I still have it, 15 years later, and 36 years after its publication. Admittedly, I’ve only made on recipe from it, but it’s in regular rotation: banana bread. Who doesn’t have leftover bananas from time to time? While these days, I am much more likely to freeze overripe bananas for their destiny as banana “ice cream,” on a cold and foggy summer day in San Francisco, the kind of day where I put on a light down jacket before heading out for my walk, I felt like baking. I decided, in my recent trend of healthifying traditional dessert recipes, to tinker also with this one. I substituted white whole wheat flour for half of the flour, light brown sugar for the white sugar, and butter for the recommended shortening or margarine. (No, not “healthy,” but healthier. It’s the little things.) I also added my latest spice obsession, cardamom, which marries so well with banana that I don’t know why I don’t see this combination all over the place. Perhaps with time.
From a nutrition point of view, this spice, which is native to India, is said to aid digestion, though reportedly in supratherapeutic amounts (which wouldn’t be palatable anyway), it might be linked to gallstones.
* * *
Cardamom Scented Banana Bread
Adapted from The Southern Junior League Cookbook, 1977
Makes: 1 loaf
1 cup AP flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
5 very ripe (spotty) bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
optional: 2/3 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
1. Sift or whisk together flours, salt, baking soda and cardamom.
2. In a separate bowl, cream butter. Then add sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs.
3. Add mashed bananas and vanilla.
4. Add dry ingredients and combine thoroughly.
5. Stir in nuts, if desired.
6. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes in a greased loaf pan or other baking pan of your choice. Test center for doneness.
7. Cool completely, then cover in foil. It’s delicious warm, but will slice more easily after being refrigerator for a few hours, if you can wait.
You may also like:
Thank you for coming by! What other recipes do you have for leftover bananas? What tips do you have for healthier baking? Let me know in the comments, and please share this post with your friends.