Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Banana Tea Bread - A lesson in 'Sifting'

I am very excited to be somewhat settled and to have the time to continue the journey through my Grandma's Recipe Boxes.  Yesterday, we had a "dusting" of snow and it really got me thinking about baking.  Along with the desire to warm the house  I had some bananas that needed used, so I set out looking through the boxes for something "banana" to bake.  As I look back through prior recipes, I noticed I had previously made a few banana recipes, but I found this "Banana Tea Bread" that I hadn't made yet.  I'll start off by saying, I think this tasted GREAT!  Of course, I dived in while it was warm, but I would bet that is exactly how my Grandma served it too!
This recipe pointed out the fact that I have perhaps become a kitchen slob.  I often whip through recipes, not taking the time to read them thoroughly and even if I do, I take short cuts.  Maybe those shortcuts are driven by my desire to eat what I cook as soon as possible, my desire to get this task done and move on to the next or my lack of experience or appreciation for how details really make a difference.  Today's lesson (remember - she was a teacher - so through her recipe's I find lessons) has to do with sifting.  Who does this today? I mean really, measure it, sift it, measure it again and sift it makes me tired to think about it.  What's the point?  Does it really make a difference?  Who cares?  And if they care, will they even know?  But you know what, I did it today (after all, I am unemployed and I have time...lots of time, so my reasons for skipping steps isn't as valid).
So here's what I learned...It makes a difference!  Sifting serves a purpose.  And depending on what you are making, it can be an important step in baking light and airy cakes and breads.  Through out history, the purpose of sifting was two-fold.  Back when flour was ground more locally (and probably sold in 50 lb flour sacks (sound familiar?)), sifting was a way of removing "foreign objects" from the flour - don't ask.  Sifting also ensures a uniform measurement. Today, we often buy our flour at the grocery store in bags that have been handled many times - each time, packing the flour, sifting it lightens it back to its original form.  Sifting is also the proper way to ensure other ingredients are incorporated throughout the flour/batter/dough.
This Banana Tea Bread was light and tasty and it must have been good as I found 3 different recipe cards for it throughout the 7 boxes.  I noted that one of these recipes is over 50 years old.  A recipe that stood the test of time...and I am glad I took the time to "sift".

Banana Tea Bread
1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. soda
1 1/4 tsp Cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c. lard or 1/2 c. butter (I used unsalted butter)
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. mashed ripe bananas

Sift flour, measure, sift again with soda, cream of tartar and salt.  Cream butter and sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and beat well.  Add flour mixture alternately with bananas, small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth.  Turn into a well oiled loaf pan. 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 3 and bake in a moderate oven - 350 degrees for about an hour until done.


  1. Thanks for the recipie and the tip on sifting!

  2. Guilty! I don't always sift. Only for certain my grandpa's red velvet cake. I promise to make an effort to sift from now on!

    I've told you this before, but...
    I just love seeing all of these old hanwritten recipes!

  3. Thanks for the recipe - I was looking for one on the weekend and saw this, but unfortunately I didn't have all the ingredients. Inspired by this recipe, I made up one of my own - have a look here:

    Love the concept behind this blog - it must be a lot of fun going through all those old recipes!

  4. I skimmed through the text quickly, but after looking back over recipe and text I still cannot locate a sugar measurement. I could guess, but would love the real measure if possible.

    1. Wow - I didn't even catch that I didn't have sugar in my post. I will update. Haven't been here in awhile.

  5. Sorry...just clicked on old recipe photo and was able to read the sugar measurement.


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