My Great-Grandmother’s Banana Bread

I always found my family’s banana bread recipe difficult to make. The baking time way exceeded the suggested hour, which seemed par for other recipes, too. Further, it often came out super dense and almost wet rather than moist, probably a result of including the liquid from the bottle of maraschino cherries. Later in life I fiddled with it, combining it with a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated with good results. Only recently, though, did it occur to me to try the original ingredients with CI’s method. I did this yesterday, and am happy to report success. Here, then, is my family’s recipe, minus extraneous liquid (the cherry juice and a Tablespoon of water to mix the baking soda in), with some whole-wheat flour replacing some of the AP flour, and using the Cook’s Illustrated method. In a perfect world, I’d freeze some, make either of the other recipes (original or combo) next and compare. That, though, would depend on me being able to leave any of this uneaten. Unlikely.

Banana Bread with Maraschino Cherries

Banana Bread with Maraschino Cherries

Great-Grandmother Jenny’s Banana Bread with Maraschino Cherries

(makes one standard loaf pan, or 3 mini loaves) If your bananas aren’t ripe enough, peel them and put them on a cookie sheet in the oven while it preheats. Remove them, let them cool, then mash and include them.


4/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, or 1 stick) butter, melted then cooled
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 10-ounce bottle maraschino cherries, drained, rinsed, stems removed, each ripped or cut in halves or thirds


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour one standard loaf pan, or three mini loaf pans. Melt butter in microwave or over low heat on stovetop. Set aside to cool.

2. In medium-large bowl, mix or sift together flours, sugar, salt and soda.

3. Check that butter has cooled, or it will cook the eggs. In medium bowl, mix together melted butter, eggs, mashed bananas and cherries.

4. Lightly fold wet mixture into dry with rubber spatula until just combined. Batter should be chunky with no flour streaks.

5. Scrape batter into loaf pan(s). Bake until golden brown, and tester comes out clean, about 55 minutes for standard loaf, about 40 minutes for mini loaves. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

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