Cooking Up U.S. History: Recipes and Research to Share with Children

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Cooking Up U.S. History: Recipes and Research to Share with Children

In doing so, I baked nine decades of American banana bread recipes, starting with a s cookbook recipe and ending with our current King Arthur Flour Banana Bread online. And what did I discover on this sweet journey?


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Banana bread recipes down the decades have in common bananas, sweetener, a chemical leavener, some fat, and flour. But beyond that they can differ wildly — offering everything from a sprinkle of sesame seeds or dollop of apricot jam to a big hit of wheat bran or a grating of orange peel. Reflecting the financial hardships encountered by many families, the loaf is lower in fat and sugar than most current recipes, as well as smaller — but its banana flavor is quite pronounced, unlike that of some of its successors.

Banana Bread from the edition of "The Joy of Cooking" is a salute to wartime rationing: using a single egg, no spices, and sour milk or buttermilk both less expensive and easier to come by than fresh whole milk , the loaf is fine-textured and tasty — but plain. Like most dishes during the era, it was meant to fill stomachs, not engage the imagination. The s was an era of growth in America. Soldiers, many having gone to college on the G. Bill, married, got good jobs, and started families — often large families.

Stay-at-home moms were the norm, and they flocked to "Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book," a salute to convenience cooking and baking. Banana-Nut Loaf, a large and lofty bread, definitely feeds a crowd. It's low-fat, low-sugar, low-banana, and completely un-spiced. Easy, yes. But tasty? Not really. Boomers joined communes, protested the Vietnam War, and went "back to the land.

The resulting flat-topped loaf is dark from brown sugar , dense, moist — and very tasty. While it won't win any beauty contests, this banana bread is one of my favorites. Boomers entered their 30s ready to entertain — and 's "The Silver Palate Cookbook" "Delicious recipes, menu, tips, lore from Manhattan's celebrated gourmet food shop" was on everyone's shelf. Surprisingly, Silver Palate's Banana Bread doesn't reflect the dash and excitement of most of its other recipes.

Remember sun-dried tomatoes? How about truffles? Many Americans gravitated to the kitchen as the 20th century drew to a close, embracing food as creative expression. And our King Arthur Flour "Baking Sheet" print newsletter — precursor of our current online recipe site — was there throughout the decade, showcasing recipes both classic and innovative. This cinnamon- and nutmeg-scented Banana Bread from the September-October, "Baking Sheet," is an enormous loaf with well-balanced flavors and good, moist texture.

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It's so rich that one reader reported using it as her wedding cake! Want to check out the recipe? Let's call the past 17 years or so the Decade of the Diet. Atkins and South Beach kicked things off in , and since then our regimes of choice have ranged from Paleo to raw to gluten-free.

We're determined to eat better — but for the most part aren't willing to give up food as pleasure. In addition, a tip at the end tells you how much you can reduce the recipe's sugar and still enjoy the result. Yes, you can have your lower-sugar banana bread — and enjoy it, too!

Cooking Up U.S. History: Recipes and Research to Share with Children

Three decades of banana bread: That's the recipe Better Homes and Gardens at the top; recipe Joy of Cooking in the center, and Betty Crocker at the bottom. Of all of these recipes, two in particular catch my fancy. One is Moosewood's loaf, with its overtones of coffee, brown sugar, and vanilla.

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As noted earlier, it won't win any beauty contests; but it's dense, moist, and flavorful, perfect for slicing thin and perhaps spreading with a smear of cream cheese. My other top choice is the Banana Bread recipe currently on our site and pictured at the top of this post. Made with butter and brown sugar, honey, vanilla, a hint of spice, and lots of banana, it's wonderful with a cup of coffee, or toasted with butter.

Or made into French toast. I reduce the amount of sugar as suggested in "tips," at the bottom of the recipe , so the banana flavor really shines through. Less sugar also means fewer calories — an added benefit! What's your own favorite banana bread recipe? Share what you love about it, as well as the book and decade or site it's from below, in comments.

PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food! Blog Recipes A short history of banana bread The surprise ingredient not bananas that started it all Author. Tagged: bananas banana bread baking history banana nut bread. Filed Under: Recipes. The Author. View all posts by PJ Hamel. Comments I found this history very interesting and I would like to hear more.

However, I found your pictures of banana bread to be unappealing due to the large chunks of banana in them. Sincerely Jonny Walker Reply. Thanks for your feedback, Jonny, and for letting us that you don't enjoy photos of banana bread in which the banana remains in larger chunks. Your email address will never be sold or distributed to a third party for any reason.

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