It is often a moist, sweet, cake-like quick bread – however there are some banana bread recipes that are traditional-style raised breads.
Bananas are believed to have originated up to 10,000 years ago and some scientists believe they may have been the world’s first fruit.
From here, traders and travelers took them to India, Africa and Polynesia.
In 327 BC, when Alexander The Great and his army invaded India, he discovered banana crop in the Indian Valleys. After tasting this unusual fruit for the first time, he introduced this new discovery to the Western world.
The bananas we enjoy today are far better than the original wild fruit which contained many large, hard seeds and not much tasty pulp.
Bananas as we know them began to be developed in Africa about 650 AD.
Bananas were discovered by the Portuguese on the Atlantic coast of Africa. They cultivated the fruit on the Canary Islands. From there it was introduced to the Caribbean, Central and South America in 16th century.
Bananas appeared in the US in the 1870s and it took a while for them to appear as ingredient items for desserts.
But, until the 1900s, bananas were not readily available in the United States.
At the turn of the 20th century, the evolution of refrigeration meant bananas could be transported properly. They became more readily available to American consumers.
The origin of the first banana bread recipe is unknown, though some speculate it was originated in the 18th century by housewives experimenting with pearlash.
The banana bread that we’re most familiar with – a quick bread featuring mashed bananas – took a little longer to come into existence. Mostly because baking powder, which is the ingredient that gives our beloved banana bread its wonderful fluffiness – wasn’t invented ’til 1843 and only made its way to the US market in 1865.
Banana bread became a standard feature of American cookbooks with the popularization of baking soda and baking powder in the 1930s.
Some food historians believe banana bread was a byproduct of the Great Depression as resourceful housewives did not wish to throw away overripe bananas (as they were still a costly item to
purchase), others believe the modern banana bread was developed in corporate kitchens to promote flour and baking soda products.
It could also be a combination of both theories, insofar as being developed in a corporate kitchen to promote flour and baking soda products, as well as marketed as a method to make use of overripe bananas.
In the 1940’s (World War II time), the banana bread recipes have minimal ingredients to reduce costs. A scarcity of produce was also a major problem at this time. Many recipes contain only a single egg and sour milk or buttermilk.
There was an influx of banana bread promotion in the 1950s on nationally syndicated TV cooking shows.
During the 1960s, ingredients like vanilla, almond, orange, nutmeg, and coffee began to be added. By the 1980s, a whole stick of butter made its way into the recipe.
National Banana Bread day is February 23.
Banana bread recipe:
• 285g (10oz) plain flour
• 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• ½ tsp salt
• 110g (4oz) butter, plus extra for greasing
• 225g (8oz) caster sugar
• 2 free-range eggs
• 4 ripe bananas, mashed
• 85ml (3fl oz) buttermilk (or normal milk mixed with 1½ tsp lemon juice or vinegar)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs,
mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla extract to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well. Fold in the flour mixture. Grease a 20 x 12.5 cm (8 x 5 in) loaf tin (2lb) and pour the cake mixture into the tin. Transfer to the oven and bake for about an hour, or until well-risen and golden-brown. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.