Grandma Mary’s Banana Bread

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Walnuts, chocolate chips and a hint of rum go great with family recipes

This banana bread was one of the first things I learned how to bake and to this day is still one of my favorites. My mom makes banana bread using a recipe she wrote down while watching my Great-Grandma Mary bake. (She says my great-grandma was a superb baker who measured everything using the palm of her hand- which is impressive but not the most helpful when it comes to recreating her food.) Grandma Mary was also able to sew clothes without a pattern, which is amazing to me.

When I was in college I made the banana bread using my mom’s recipe because it used up leftover bananas, kept well and reminded me of home. Over time I began adding in nuts and chocolate chips, and eventually began throwing in a few tablespoons of rum because it improves the texture and, seriously, what dessert isn’t better with rum? It’s been an ingredient in two out of the three recipes posted on this blog so far!

This banana bread is moist and indulgent without being too sweet. Make it ahead for those breakfasts on busy mornings or packing in a bag lunch (I bet it would also make some epic french toast Mwahahah!)

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All those chocolate chips, yum!

The key to achieving a dense but not heavy texture in this banana bread is to beat the butter, sugar and together until light and fluffy, along with making sure the batter is just “loose” enough before folding in the nuts and chocolate chips. I found there’s a little bit of variation in how much liquid you’ll get from adding 1 cup of mashed bananas to the batter, so sometimes it’s a good idea to add more milk.

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Light and fluffy whipped butter with eggs and sugar- the color of sunshine
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Ideal texture for the batter before adding the chocolate chips and nuts- thick enough to hold it’s shape but thin enough that it won’t stick in the beaters of an electric mixer.

Grandma Mary’s Banana Bread

Recipe Notes: Overripe bananas work best in this recipe, you can freeze yours whenever you happen to have them around. You’ll need about 3 bananas. If you wish to omit the rum, just increase the milk to 6 tablespoons.

  • 2 scant cups flour
  • 1teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk or buttermilk
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, plus about 1/4 cup walnuts for garnishing the top of loaf, if desired
  • ½ cup/a stick of butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9x5x3” loaf pan. Stir together first 3 ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl cream butter and sugar well. Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat mixture on medium speed for about two minutes until bright yellow and fluffy. Beat in milk, vanilla and rum.
  3. Alternating between flour mixture and mashed bananas, add both in batches to wet ingredients, beating until just combined after each addition. Batter should be light and fluffy, if it appears heavy add additional milk 2 tablespoons at a time. Fold in nuts or chocolate chips.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan, and sprinkle the extra nuts on top (if using.) Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
  5. Let bread cool completely in the pan. Run a knife around the edges of pan and invert to remove banana bread from pan.

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