Saturday, February 3, 2007

Banana Nut Bread

Adapted from The Green Thumb Harvest by Johanna and Patricia Halsey

Makes 2 loaves

You think you don’t need a recipe for banana bread. But you do. It goes well with luncheon buffets, plus it’s a good thing to have hanging around the house (except for the fact that you keep sneaking a little piece here and there).

For over twelve generations, since the 1640’s, the Halsey family has lived and worked the land at a farm on the east end of Long Island, The Green Thumb, in Water Mill, New York. Once a chicken farm, then a potato farm, The Green Thumb now grows four hundred varieties of organic produce with the commitment to grow the best food possible for a healthier planet. The Green Thumb Harvest cookbook included recipes from their clientele, some of whom, according to Craig Claiborne, numbered among the best (and most famous) cooks in the Hamptons. Marcy Olive, who contributed this particular recipe, said that her great-grandmother won first prize with it at the Wabash, Indiana, County Fair in 1889. If you try it, you'll be glad you did.

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup milk
1 cup sweet butter, softened
2½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs, beaten
3½ cups unsifted unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2½ cups mashed very ripe bananas
2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 loaf pans.

Pour the lemon juice into the milk, and stir until the milk is curdled. These are the liquid ingredients. Set aside.

Put the flour, baking soda, and salt into a separate small bowl. Stir with a fork then sift onto a piece of aluminum foil. Bend the foil to make a "point" so you can pour these ingredients easily. These are the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until creamy in a bowl large enough to hold everything. Add the eggs, and mix thoroughly. These are the creamed ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients and the liquid ingredients alternately to the creamed ingredients. Stir in the bananas and nuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans, and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

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