Mrs. Alexander’s Banana Bread

About a million years ago when we moved from OKC back to Owasso, I was part of my local parish’s Women’s Club.  Even thought I had gone to St. Henry nearly my entire life, being part of the Women’s Club was like the coolest thing ever and made me feel like a real grown-up, not just Jim and Sandy’s daughter.  Even though the ladies of the Women’s Club had practically watched me grow up, they let me pretend that I was a indeed a woman full of all the wisdom and insight that come with having lived for a staggering 27 years.

One of the big fund-raisers during my stint in the Women’s Club was a cookbook compiled from recipes submitted by the ladies (and some of the men) of my parish.

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I’ve held onto this cookbook for all these years and there are some real gems in here.  One of my favorite recipes is Mrs. Alexander’s Banana Bread.  Mrs. Alexander is just one of the loveliest people and was always so sweet to me.  (And I’m not sure, but I think she might have also been my 4th Grade CCD teacher too.)

I’m so happy to share her delicious recipe with you because I make A LOT of banana bread.  We always have bananas around and I hate wasting food so therefore we always have banana bread.  I give it everyone I know…neighbors, friends, co-workers.  And I’ve tried A LOT of banana bread recipes so I feel justified in stating that Mrs. Alexander’s is the best recipe ever.  And on top of that it’s super easy to make.

Here is all you need.

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  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 well beaten eggs
  • 2 cups ripe bananas (3-4 depending on the size)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (*see note)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest

First things first, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare your loaf pan(s) or cupcake pan.  *And about that buttermilk – I never have buttermilk on hand so what I do is add a tiny amount of vinegar (maybe 1/8 tsp. or so) to a measuring cup and then fill with whole milk to the 1/2 cup mark.

The next step is to cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer.  I recently read somewhere that this is the one step that a lot of bakers skimp on but when done right, makes a huge difference in the texture of the final product.  So don’t be afraid to be an overachiever like me and let your mixer go until the butter/sugar mixture is light and fluffy.

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Next, add the well beaten eggs and vanilla to the sugar and butter and mix well.

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So now it’s time to combine the flour, salt, soda in large bowl.  Here is also where I like to add my only departure to Mrs. Alexander’s recipe – lemon zest. 

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I blame Michael Simon and The Chew for my new addiction to adding zest to everything.  But I’m only adding a tiny little amount to add a little brightness to the final product.  You could use orange zest as well, but just be sure not to overdo it.  And I’ve heard that if, hypothetically speaking, you were to add a significant amount of orange zest to plain vanilla cupcake mix, your orange/dark chocolate frosted cupcakes would be met with rolled eyes and turned up noses and be spurned by your family.  Or so I hear.

You could totally leave the zest out of your banana bread if you fear the spurn though.

Anyway, once you get your dry ingredients combined, add all of it to the mixing bowl along with the buttermilk.  Mix on medium-low speed until just combined then add the mashed bananas.  Oh and a couple of things about the bananas – choose VERY ripe bananas for banana bread.  And I like to keep them a little chunky, but if you want to mash the tar out of them that’s OK too.

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The last thing is to add the pecans (or walnuts is I what I prefer) and gently mix them in.

I usually make one pan of cupcakes and two small loaf pans.  If you’re using a large loaf pan, bake time is about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  I bake my cupcakes for right at 30 minutes and they come out perfectly golden-brown.

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Once they’re done, leave them in the pan for a minute and then set them on a wire rack to cool.  Or you could do like me and eat one with a little pat of butter right when they come out of the oven. 

Come to momma…

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So if you find yourself with a few grody bananas laying around, be sure to give this banana bread recipe a try.  It’s just the best there is because, as it turns out, Mrs. Alexander is just as wonderful at sharing recipes as she is at sharing her faith.

Peace, Kelly

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About Minding My Nest

wife, mom, not-so-empty nester.
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