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Mennonite Recipe for Banana Nut Bread

September 29, 2017

Banana Nut Bread

I feel truly doubly guilty whenever my bananas get too old to eat—or at least too old to enjoy eating. Barbara Kingsolver made me especially feel that way nine years ago in her prize-winning book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life for buying bananas, knowing they had to be shipped from tropical zones and never would fit into the 100-mile diet (foods you grow or buy from within one hundred miles of you). But since she and her family gave themselves a free pass for coffee (also not available locally!) on their shopping list, I figure I could allow myself both coffee AND bananas.

I do like to keep bananas on hand not only because I love them, but because they make a great tummy buffer if you have to get up in the middle of the night and take aspirin or ibuprofen on an empty stomach. At one point I decided to try just eating half a banana in the middle of the night—and skip the medicine if my headache was just kind of iffy and weak. Eureka—I could get rid of a headache just by consuming the banana. (My father would say it was all in my head. Yeah.) So sometimes I end up with rotten bananas because I’m always saving them for the next potential middle of the night headachey feeling.

Back to banana bread. I wanted just a basic recipe, right? So I found it interesting that some of my favorite all purpose cookbooks where I expected to find it, didn’t have a recipe.

Now in one, I could quickly figure out why. First I checked Simply in Season, knowing it had an index listing things by the predominate fruit or vegetable in the recipe, since it features seasonably available foods.

Well duh, of course in North America, bananas—although they are available to us year round, are, as we’ve already discussed, hardly seasonable local fruits, so I’m sure the cookbook editors nixed any entries there.

But I was really surprised not to find it in Mennonite Country Style Recipes: The Prize Collection of a Shenandoah Valley Cook by almost-neighbor Esther Shank. Bananas are a basic food group recipe, right? Something you might have even learned to make long ago in Home Ec. Class? Nope.

Never fear, I found it in Mennonite Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley collected by New York Times bestselling cookbook author Phyllis Pellman Good and her daughter Kate, submitted by Jennice Babkirk, right here in Harrisonburg. (Anyone know her?) And of course recipes abound on the web.

This recipe turned out great the very first time I made it. I have made banana bread previously but did not keep track of what recipe I used.

Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened
2 eggs
1 ½ cup mashed bananas (3-4 medium sized bananas)
1/3 cup water
1 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ cup chopped nuts


  1. Cream together sugar and margarine.
  2. Stir in eggs until well blended.
  3. Add bananas and water. Beat 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder, mixing just until moistened.
  5. Fold in nuts.
  6. Pour into loaf pan which has been greased only on the bottom.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes, until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Loosen sides of loaf from pan, then remove from pan. Cool completely before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf.

My notes:

Rotting or not? My bananas looked pretty far gone and ugly, but inside they were still fairly firm, and definitely not rotting.

So while I use old bananas, those that have gotten to the stage where they are black and mushy—I’m not sure I would use those. Anyone else tried using literally rotten bananas? (You can always freeze black-turning bananas you haven’t gotten around to using.)

Remove from pan? I also did not take my bread out of the pan in five minutes. In fact, I took the bread to work in the baking pan, kept it that way with foil over the top, and it was still warm three hours later for our coffee break at work. I made slices right in the pan and they came out just fine.

Free, not-really-medical advice. And my medical tip to substitute banana for an aspirin in the middle of the night?? Completely free advice. You are very welcome. Or, even better, a slice of this bread with a hot drink or cold milk. Yum.


Where do you first look for recipes? Your own recipe box, online, a favorite cookbook? Which one?


Or, do you have an unconventional headache remedy?

I’d love to hear!


From → Family Life, Food, Recipes

  1. Elaine permalink

    I am using the internet more and more for recipes, but still go to Betty Crocker, More with Less, and church cookbooks for some favorites. Because of the recipes that pop up in my email or Facebook page I have been trying some new recipes…oh, and I have to include Mennonite Girls Can Cook! Another favorite site is Her recipes are simple, nourishing and mouth-watering.

    My go-to recipe for banana bread is one I got from my former boss. She got it from her Lamaze class many years ago. She sometimes added chocolate chips to it, and that put it over the top. 🙂

    Interesting observation about the headache remedy. Are your headaches the migraine type or tension?

    • I’ll answer your last question first–I am fortunate that I basically only get tension headaches, and not as bad as I used to when I was younger. I doubt bananas would have any effect on migraines!

      Thanks for your link to, I will check it out. And yes, I love the blog/recipes at Mennonite Girls Can Cook, too. My go to basic cookbook is Betty Crocker but I forgot to check it for this one.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Athanasia permalink

    I enjoy reading cookbooks (borrowed from the library, given to me as presents or bought as a souvenir of a vacation) but I would seldom try a recipe from them. I also do not use recipes off the internet. One of my favorite cookbooks is THE BETTER HOMES AND GARDEN COOKBOOK (red and white plaid cover)…I have 3 versions of this one, one from the 50’s that my mother used, one from the 80’s when we got married and one from the 00’s that I use currently. I also like JOY OF COOKING and I have an old version and a new version. Unless I am baking I seldom follow recipes, just make up as I go along. I also have a recipe box and file with recipes from relatives, Church members, friends. I write notes into my cookbooks as I often may change an ingredient or time or temp etc.

    I make some form of nut bread every week like banana nut, cranberry nut, pumpkin or zucchini, for example. No, I do not put bananas in the freezer for later use. Quick breads are called quick breads because they are quick. It takes at the most 10 minutes to mix up banana bread. I keep a couple cups of nuts pre-chopped in the refrigerator as that is really the only time consuming part of the banana nut bread recipe. I also do not add oil or butter, I add the equivalent amount of banana. I bake in two smaller loaves rather than 1 large bread pan.

    Black bananas do not necessarily equate with rotten. I have 3 very black bananas right now that are getting used shortly. I store my bananas in a mesh bag, tied up, as this time of year we sometimes get fruitflies due to all the produce on the counters. Fruitflies can make your bananas rot.

    That recipe has no vanilla or other spice? Did you make as is? See, I would have changed that recipe right away, left out the butter and salt, added extra banana and added vanilla and allspice.

  3. Yes, I made it as is. That’s funny you mention vanilla. I had gotten out all the ingredients that I thought it would take, including vanilla, and then was surprised when I double checked the recipe and it called for no vanilla. And yes, I like your idea of leaving out the butter and just use extra banana. My hub would balk at the allspice but he doesn’t really like quick breads anyway, so I often take them to work if I make them, or share them somewhere else. I do like them and your list of various kinds sounds creative and great!

    Do you ever put your bananas in the fridge? Just curious.

  4. Athanasia permalink

    Does he not like allspice? I prefer it over cinnamon. Using the extra banana of course makes it fat free. Not like quick breads??!! What is his reasoning? I know, some people make them too dry because they over bake them. That is why I prefer the smaller pans.

    The best cranberry nut bread recipe is the one I cut off a bag of ocean spray cranberries in the early 80’s. It contains orange juice and orange zest. I have it taped into my Betty crocker book.

    I thought of two other cookbooks I like. One is a name brand recipe book. Contains recipes that were on boxes and packages. I get my lemon bar recipe and 7 layer bars from there. The other is a cookie cookbook with recipes from around the world and every one has a picture.

    Do you mean do I store bananas in the refrigerator? No. I do have 4 doz pears in there right now. I get them from a cousin. We’ll take a couple out at a time to ripen. I don’t can pears as I don’t like canned pears.

  5. To each their own tastes I guess. Apple pie is his favorite pie but if he gets someone’s which doesn’t have any or too little cinnamon, he always says he’d rather not eat it than lack the cinnamon. Just does not care for it. And yes, I think he has been hit by some dry slices of nut breads a few time too often to worry about trying another. He doesn’t know what he’s missing maybe, and also why force yourself to eat calories you don’t enjoy when he has to watch those anyway.

    Is your recipe book with recipes from boxes and packages one you cut and pasted together, or purchased? Sounds like a great idea.

    I enjoy canned pears with a dollop of cottage cheese, but yes, fresh are so much better. Lucky you!

    • Athanasia permalink

      The cookbook is actually called THE BRAND NAME COOKBOOK. I bought it at a book fair more than 15 years ago. The recipes say things like “one can of Dole pineapple” or “1\4 C of Realemon lemon juice” or “3 cups Pillsbury’s flour” for example. It is recipes collected off boxes or out of magazines etc.

  6. My Mennonite Community Cookbook, the original one, is splotched on page 12 for the banana tea bread recipe. I made this often when the children were at home because I bought extra bananas so I’d have some over-ripe ones for the bread. They loved it!

    Now I seldom bake except for the scones I made yesterday for a tea party. Our grand-daughter Jenna has the baking gene though. She made lemon loaf all by herself and a lemon syrup with zest to go with it.

    I don’t know whether it’s lack of energy, laziness, or the heat in Florida – I seldom get the urge to bake unless there’s a special occasion. 🙂

  7. Interesting splotch there! And bravo for making scones for that tea party! Jenna’s Lemon loaf with lemon syrup zest sounds amazing.

    Baked goodies are best saved for special occasions, so says Doris Janzen Longacre, the wise woman behind More-with-Less Cookbook.

    Don’t apologize: you have other things on your “plate.” Bless you for commenting!

  8. Looks so delicious!!! need to try this

  9. Suphie Wesner permalink

    Hi! I just thought of you, found out that boiling Chrysanthemum roots is a remedy for headaches. Chrysanthemums were first cultivated in China in 15th century BCE, and brought over here during Colonial times. It is part of the Asteraceae family, which includes other common flowers like marigold, daisy, etcetera. Try a brew of Chrysanthemum leaves in a festive drink! It’s all safe.

  10. Lesli3 permalink

    I have used black and literally mushy bananas, that are NOT moldy, in this banana bread and it turns out great.
    I hate to waste food.

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