Old-style banana bread like grandmother's

Entertaining

Entertaining: Delectable sweet loaf, moist and nutty, is a treat for breakfast, dessert or tea.

April 07, 2002|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Special to the Sun

One of my earliest childhood memories is of my grandmother's delicious banana nut bread. I eagerly awaited her visits and loved meeting her at the Memphis train station. She always stepped off the City of New Orleans holding a huge cardboard box laden with homemade baked goods, including dark golden loaves of banana bread studded with pecans.

Our family enjoyed the bread for breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack or to end our evening meals. We savored the loaves long after MaMa had returned home.

Unfortunately, the recipe for MaMa's banana bread was never written down. This winter, I tried to re-create this delectable bread. I searched in old and new community cookbooks for recipes and compared them with my memories. After a week of baking, I was convinced that the version below is almost identical to the original. As an extra flourish, I spread the loaf with a creamy caramel glaze.

It will be a fine addition to breakfast, or I can serve it in the late afternoon along with cups of tea. My grandmother would have been pleased.

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.

Caramel-Glazed Banana Nut Loaf

If you really want to indulge, serve a slice of this banana bread with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle both with some warm caramel sauce.

Makes 1 loaf

1 1/3 cups flour

3 / 4 teaspoon baking powder

3 / 4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing pan

3 / 4 cup sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 very ripe medium bananas, peeled and mashed well to make 1 1 / 4 cups

3 / 4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Caramel Sauce (recipe follows), cooled to room temperature

Arrange rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 4 1/2 -by-8 1/2 , or 6-cup, loaf pan.

Into mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

With electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar and beat until sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower speed and add dry ingredients. When blended, add eggs and bananas and beat just a few seconds to incorporate. Fold in nuts.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread top evenly with rubber spatula. Bake until tester comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. When done, let cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes.

Using icing spatula or table knife, spread enough of cooled Caramel Sauce over top of loaf to coat evenly. Heat any extra sauce just to warm and serve drizzled over slices of banana loaf. (Loaf can be placed in airtight container and refrigerated up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Caramel Sauce

Makes 3 / 4 cup

2 ounces cream cheese

1 / 4 cup light cream or whipping cream

3 / 4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, broken into chunks

Mix cream cheese and cream in small bowl until smooth. Set aside.

Place sugar and water in heavy, medium saucepan over low heat, swirling pan occasionally until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil until syrup turns a rich brown color. Remove pan from heat.

Stir in cream cheese mixture -- it will bubble vigorously. Whisk in butter. Use warm as a sauce or let cool to room temperature and use as a glaze or icing. (Caramel sauce can be prepared 5 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring over low heat, when using as a sauce.)

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