Here's a link to the printable recipe.
Of course, you can absolutely just print out the recipe and start baking! However, if you don't do a lot of baking, I have a tutorial ahead. Because sometimes more information is NOT a bad thing.
First things first. Take a minute to turn your oven on to 350 degrees F so that it can preheat. SUPER IMPORTANT. Next, prepare your loaf pan(s). I personally have the best luck using Pam cooking spray liberally on the bottom and sides. However, you can use shortening or butter if that's all you have in the house. Just make sure that you very liberally grease things up. Otherwise, there will be stick-age. I promise.
Then, you need to decide if you want one loaf of bread or two. This recipe is written for just one loaf, but you can easily double it. In fact, I almost ALWAYS double it. You'll have to excuse the fact that all the pictures are for a double batch. Sorry, folks, I'm not willing to bake only one loaf... even if it's for the blog. *wink*
Next, start creaming the following ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
I use my Kitchenaid mixer for this because I have weenie arms and am entirely too lazy to do this by hand with a spoon. But, you absolutely DO NOT have to have a mixer to do this. Truly. Don't sweat it. And in case you're wondering what the creamed mixture should look like, here's a picture:
See how creamy it looks? (Hence the term "creaming".) No lumps. Completely incorporated.
The rest of this is a "dump" recipe. Just measure and dump it in the bowl. For this recipe, I never sift or fuss about mixing all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl before I put it in the wet mixture. Really. No worries there.
3 medium bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt (a big pinch or a small pinch... really isn't a big deal either way.)
A few (or a LOT of) words about the bananas. Please use bananas that are over-ripe. I'm begging you. Mine looked like this:
See? Brown. And kinda yucky looking. I would never eat these. In fact, I often wait until they are even darker brown on the outside. The darker they are, the sweeter the bread will be. And for the record, if you have brown spots or bruising on your bananas, you don't have to cut that off or anything. Just throw them in a bowl and mash 'em up. You won't be able to tell a difference at all.
I use a potato masher to mash my bananas up. This masher belonged to my Grandma Sterrett, who was an incredible cook and baker. Somehow, I have this belief that if I use her utensils, whatever I'm making will magically turn out fantastic. It seems to work... at least some of the time.
Okay, now that all the rest of those ingredients are in the bowl, start mixing. Keep going until all the flour is completely incorporated. It should look something like this:
Now, if you want to, you can add 1 cup of nuts, stirring them in well. I often use walnuts, but pecans will work really well, too. This time, I skipped the nuts.
Pour the batter into your pan(s). They will be a little more than half full.
Put them in the oven. I try really hard to make sure that my baking rack is in the middle of the oven when I'm baking. If it's really high or really low, I have problems with the cook times being correct. Leave them in the oven for 55 to 60 minutes. At around 55 minutes, check them with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out gummy, put 'em back in. If the toothpick comes out clean, then you're ready to put the pans on a cooling rack. I usually cool them in the pans for about 10 to 15 minutes on the cooling rack. Then, I carefully run a knife around the sides of the pan (to make sure they aren't sticking), and then carefully turn the bread out of the pan. Leave the bread on the cooling rack until it's COMPLETELY cool. They should look something like this:
Once they're cool, wrap them up in aluminum foil and let them set on the counter for at least 8 hours. That part is so important, I'm going to say it twice.
LET THEM SIT OUT ON THE COUNTER
FOR AT LEAST 8 HOURS.
DO NOT EAT THIS BREAD RIGHT AWAY.
Surely letting the bread sit for 8 hours can't make that big of a difference, right? Wrong-go chong-go, my friend. Really. Waiting at least overnight makes all the difference in the world when it comes to sweetness, moistness and texture. I have no idea why. But, you're going to have to trust me here. It will make an enormous difference. I promise.
Well, that's it. And a big shout-out to Grandma Vasey who has been chillin' out on the other side for many years now. The world was a whole lot better because you were in it, Grandma. Love you. Miss you.
Enjoy, my friends!