this recipe has been in my family for awhile. it’s originally written in my grandma’s old cookbook, but for my whole life it has been my grandpa’s recipe. he always made it perfectly, and for the rest of us it’s been near impossible to recreate it the way he did. he passed away about a month and a half ago sadly, and baking this yesterday happend to be really good for the heart. the whole house filled with the smell of banana bread and reminded me so much of him. and although it’s not as good as when he made it, my mom and i thought he’d say it was good enough.
below is the exact same recipe my family has had for some 50 years, so i don’t know where it came from. most likely it’s from an old cookbook or magazine from the 1950’s. it’s written originally as quick bread, because it falls into that category of sweet things that aren’t cake but not yeasty bread. it’s really quite simple. but i think it’s one of the best comfort foods i know.
makes 1 loaf. we doubled everything to make 2 loaves.
- 1/2 c. shortening
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 c. sifted flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3 very ripe bananas, mashed chopped
- walnuts (optional)
preheat oven to 325° F. blend together shortening, salt, and sugar in large bowl. add eggs, flour, baking soda, bananas, and nuts (if you are using them).
butter and flour or grease with some butter spray a loaf pan. pour batter into pan, and then bake for 40 minutes.
after 40 minutes, insert a toothpick in the center. if it comes out clean, it’s done! if not, keep baking at same temperature, checking with a toothpick every 10 minutes. if you noticed the edges burning, reduce heat to 300° F. continue baking and check with a toothpick every 10 minutes or so.
this was from my first real cookbook, how to be a domestic goddess…, and used to be one of my go-to recipes along with nigella’s snickerdoodles. i don’t really remember why i was turned on to this recipe. it’s really just a simple lemon cake in bread-format. i’ve never been crazy about lemon cookies or other lemon sweets, but this recipe just stuck for some reason. it’s probably because it’s super easy to make and requires very little ingredients, but the result is so good and somehow elegant in a simple way. it seems like one of those things that are so easy to whip up, so you should always have it around because it goes perfectly with coffee and breakfast/afternoon/evening tea. anyways, all i’m saying is that this is simple but good. the original recipe is called “lemon madeira cake” but i changed it to lemon cake loaf because well, i think it’s lemon cake, and bread, in a loaf pan. it’s like dessert and a snack and a breakfast all-in-one. so it’s a cakey-bread, or a bread-looking cake. whatever really. and to be honest, i’m not completely sure how to pronounce “madeira” so when people ask what it is, i sort of awkwardly mumble the name. and there’s no reason to be awkward about what i made, because it’s delicious and i’m proud of this lemony, cakey, bready… treat thing. but i did google (as always) “madeira”, and i found out that it’s an island off of Portugal. however this cake is actually English in origin, and was usually served with a madeira wine which originated from the island, as told by wikipedia. it all makes sense now.
adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess…
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4c. + 1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. extra sugar for sprinkling
1 c. butter, softened will be easier
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
preheat oven to 350° F. in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. cream the butter and sugar in another medium bowl until smooth. you can use a hand mixer or stand mixer, but i just use a spoon to do it. stir in the lemon zest. incorporate one egg at a time with a small scoop of flour for each. stir in the rest of the flour. add in the lemon juice. (i squeeze the lemon over my hand over a separate bowl to catch the seeds, and then add the juice to the flour mixture). pour into the loaf pan, and then sprinkle the top evenly with the sugar. this will make a crispy sweet crust (my favorite part!). bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. remove to a wire rack and let cool in the pan.
yesterday i visited a farmers’ market at Winterfeldtplatz in Berlin. i love farmers’ markets and flea markets so much. you can really experience all types of foods with all your senses. the market at Winterfeldtplatz is quite well known i think, so i visited it on a wednesday to avoid the saturday crowds. it was quite small, but it wasn’t crowded at all so it was really comfortable to walk around in. there were a lot of vegetable and fruit stands, and some random craft booths, but my favorites were a small espresso stand and a bakery stand with fresh breads and rolls. the espresso stand was run by italians who greeted you with “Buon giorno”. it reminded me of being in italy and i would love to go back soon. they had different types of espresso drinks you could buy that were all very cheap, and were also selling slices of tiramisu. it looked so delicious. but the serving was so huge and i knew i could never eat it all by myself and felt bad wasting any of it which means i would have somehow eaten it all and then felt sick for the next few hours… eventually i decided on an espressino, which is basically espresso with foamy milk. i’ve grown to like espresso a lot over the last few years. it’s a lot more bitter than coffee, but i’ve also stopped drinking sugar in my normal coffee so for me the flavor of it is quite nice now.
i didn’t intend on buying anything from the bakery stand that i visited, but the man working there was very nice and friendly (=good salesman). he said something in german and i did my usual polite smile and nod because i didn’t hear/understand what he said. usually this trick works and people smile back. but there are moments, like this one, when what they said was actually a question and not a comment and you feel them waiting for a response and looking confused on why you answered with a smile and kept walking. well he then switched to english and was quite nice. he let me try this special type of dark german bread that had plums, walnuts, and chili in it. at first this combination sounds off somehow, but the flavors are kind of mild and together it makes for a really tasty bread. the shape of it is kind of weird, and it’s actually really heavy (as in physical weight not how it feels in your stomach) so it’s not really a sandwich bread, but more of a snack bread that you could also throw at someone in self-defense if needed bread. german breads are typically darker and denser like this one. the guy recommended to eat it with a soft french cheese like brie which i did try yesterday evening. it’s good, but i tried it again today with butter and tomato slices and prefer this way better.