Turns out it was out there for all to see. But it’s so good that it simply needs to be shared far and wide.
My mom makes the best banana bread, hands down. I sometimes regret asking her for the recipe. “Easy,” she said. “It’s in that Carillon cookbook.” And here I spent my childhood thinking it was some secret, cherished recipe brought over from the old country. I might have been crushed learning the not-so-secret origins, but the simple fact is that this really is the best banana bread recipe around.
The cookbook she refers to was published by the good folks behind Steinbach, Manitoba’s The Carillon weekly newspaper in 1974. That’s why it’s called the Carillon Centennial Cookbook. My mom still uses her copy and I’m in possession of the one that belonged to my Baba Jean. It has her notes in the margins and some additional recipes handwritten on the inside cover. Needless to say, it’s a treasure.
We’ve made a few tweeks over the years. The original calls for shortening, an ingredient that neither my mom nor I stock regularly in our kitchens. We now use canola oil. I believe the reason this recipe is so good is the addition of that half a cup of strong, cold coffee. It adds a caramel richness to the loaf. And it goes great with a hot cup.
Wake-Me-Up Banana Bread
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup canola oil
- 3 mashed bananas, very ripe
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup cold, strong coffee
- 1 cup pecans (optional)
- Mix all ingredients together until just blended.
- Spoon into greased loaf pan.
- Bake at 350F for one hour.
- Check it at 40 minutes. If the top is getting a little too brown, fashion a makeshift lid from aluminum foil and gentle place it on top of the loaf.
- Continue baking until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Shel writes about the outdoors, travel and food when she’s not playing outside, on the road or eating. She has weaknesses for 100-year old McClary cookstoves, fine white linens and puppies named Sammy. She lives on a farm in Manitoba’s Interlake region where she keeps a flock of chatty hens, tends to honeybees and attempts to grow impressive heirloom tomatoes. She writes regularly for NUVO Magazine, CAA Magazine, Westjet Magazine and Matador Network along with several agricultural publications.