Great Grandma’s Banana Bread

This post was written by Caroline Haight, an intern at Special Collections and Archives, for their Great Rare Books Bake Off blog series.

For my contribution to the Great Rare Books Bake Off blog series, I have decided to make my great grandmother’s banana bread recipe. This recipe is one that I’ve watched my grandmother and mother bake many times since I was a kid. It is part of our tradition to share the bread with friends and neighbors. There have been many times when people we know have brought us their overripe bananas so that we will bake bread. Now, I bake this recipe and share the loaves with my roommates or deliver them to friends. The recipe yields two loaves which makes it perfect for sharing.

This is my copy of the recipe card (as you can tell it gets frequent use), but I had grown up asking my mom to help me read my grandmother’s handwriting from her copy of my great grandmother’s original. My grandmother’s recipe card is slightly different from mine because on the back it has her notes for how she adjusts the recipe. I don’t have these written on mine, but I always remember to only add 1.5 cups of sugar rather than 2 and I keep an eye on the bread as it bakes because it often takes longer than instructed.


2 cups sugar, 1 cup butter, 3 eggs, 1.5 tablespoons baking soda, 0.5 tablespoon salt, 8 ounces sour cream, 3 ripe bananas, 2.5 cups flour, 1.5 tablespoons vanilla extract


Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time and beat until light. In a separate bowl combine sour cream and baking soda (let sit for 5 to 10 minutes). Add sour cream and baking soda to to the egg mixture. Add liquified bananas, flour, salt, and vanilla extract. Prep two bread pans with crisco and flour. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 65 minutes.

A few elements of this recipe that I find are most imporant for best results are the temperature of the butter, freshness of the baking soda, and how ripe the bananas are. My mother always told me that a banana could never be too overripe, they only get better and better. This time I forgot to leave out my butter beforehand and I had to soften it in the microwave, which I have found to be the reason the end result turns out to be a darker brown. That, and because my roommate baked brownies just before I made banana bread which caused the oven to be too hot.

Baking this recipe keeps me connected to my family and I look forward to continuing to pass it on. All of the recipes for this event, such as the icebox cookie recipe, are great ways of connecting to the past. Plus, it’s delicious! My mother prefers to eat hers warmed up with a little bit of butter, but I prefer mine by itself. If you get the chance, I also reccomend trying chocolate chips in one of the loaves. I hope if anyone decides to make this recipe, that you enjoy it as much as I always have and be sure to share it with others.

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