cynthia’s banana bread

My grandmother is a reader, and I remember raiding her shelves during long summer afternoons at the lake house.  I also remember (and still experience!) her generosity with her reading: there were/are book-shaped packages at every birthday, Christmas, and sometimes in between.  But I think my greatest discovery was a book my Nana brought as her plane read on one visit sometime in the mid 1990s.  It was the first in Jan Karon’s Mitford series, At Home in Mitford.  I gobbled it up in a day or two and begged for more.  I adored that series (through book 5, at least)!  Looking back I must have been quite the picture: gawky teenager with terrible haircut reads voraciously about an overweight, 60-something priest in small town Carolina.  Those stories made me happy, though.

I hadn’t thought about Father Tim in years, but when I mailed myself all of the books that were under my parents’ stairs, I found a paperback set of the Mitford novels.  They’re on my shelf now, and up for discussion.  I wondered aloud at a recent party if a Mitford cookbook existed, because all I really remember at this remove are fantastic descriptions of food.  And upon checking the interwebs, my book club friends assured me that there was one.  I put it on hold, and dutifully picked it up at the library.  To be honest, I didn’t like the cookbook itself – it was badly organized.  HOWEVER.  This delicious banana bread recipe made the whole exercise worth it.  Oh my word, it’s good!  And in the land of funny coincidences, my Nana’s name is Cynthia.  So!  It’s Cynthia’s recipe, two times over.

Cynthia’s Banana Bread (modified slightly from Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader)


3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (2%)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 large, ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
2 tablespoons lemon zest (see note)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a 9” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Place the sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the yogurt, lemon juice, bananas and lemon zest and beat well.  Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture in two batches, and stir until just blended.  Add the walnuts and mix again until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out fairly clean.  Don’t over bake!  Cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then invert onto the rack to cool completely.

Note: The Mitford Cookbook introduced instructions for zesting a lemon unlike any that I have ever tried.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel the colored part of the peel and leave the bitter white pith alone.  Once you have a small pile of lemon peels, mince and measure.  There’s your zest! Two tablespoons ended up being the zest of one large lemon when done in this manner.

This. Banana bread.  Happy Easter to ME!  I don’t ever recall wanting to eat banana bread batter by the spoonful before… but this recipe did it.  I won’t ever switch back to anything else, because, YEAH.  Holy yum.

Recommended for: everyone.  It’s delicious.

Interested in other food-related posts?  Check out Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking!


Laurie C said...

That banana bread looks so good! And what a nice story to go with it! My husband read all of the Mitford books. I haven't read any of them yet.

Beth F said...

I listened t the first couple of Father Tim books, but for some reason got away from them. I love knowing there is a Mitford cookbook and that it's good! I must track it down and add it to my collection.

Liviania said...

I always mean to experiment with banana bread, but I like my current recipe so well . . . I'm not sure that's really a problem.

But I love using my grandmother's recipes. My family has passed a number of them down.

Ryan said...

Banana bread was one of my addictions as a kid.

Louise said...

I've never read any of the Mitford books, but have certainly my fair share of banana bread/cake in this lifetime- always worthwhile. This one looks particularly delicious.

Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) said...

That sounds yummy! I used to bake my Grandma's banana bread recipe. She wasn't known for being much of a cook, but I had her recipe, so that's the one I made. Then I tried Jane Brody's and realized what I was missing -- oh! banana bread is supposed to be moist. Heh.

And this recipe sounds even better with the lemon.

Tina said...

Going gluten free means I have to substitute flours but, this looks so wonderful and moist, I will have to experiment with the recipe. Looks great, nice post.

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