Saturday, June 12, 2010

Anna's Banana Bread

I was one of the very lucky girls who had more than one woman looking after me while growing up. My mum, of course, who also soldiered on all alone when my dad died, my grandmother, who kept us stocked up on the most delicious homemade fudge, and, for a while, Anna.

For a few years, Anna was our housekeeper, and we all loved and adored her. She looked after us during the day while Mum was away at work, gave us lunch, and kept the house neat as a pin. Lunch was always something cooked, usually some sort of meat with loads of vegetables, sometimes some pasta. Run of the mill healthy stuff. I do remember Anna's puddings though. Looking back, I'm sure we couldn't have had pudding every day, but it felt like it. Custard pudding, vinegar pudding, baked chocolate pudding, bread and butter pudding. They were delicious. When I think of Anna I think of pudding. Hopefully one day somebody will associate me with something as nice.

Somewhere along the way a bought a lovely little cookbook on a whim (not the first or the last time this happened, mind you), called Winnie-the-Pooh's Teatime Cookbook. It is filled with lovely recipes like Warm Milk with Honey and Vanilla, Chocolate Tea Bread, Strawberry Butter and Cucumber Sandwiches.

It also has the loveliest quotes in between the recipes. I am a bit of a Winnie-the-Pooh fan, so please allow me to repeat my favourites:

"By-and-by Pooh and Piglet went on again. Christopher Robin was at home by this time, because it was the afternoon, and he was so glad to see them that they stayed there until very nearly teatime, and then they had a Very Nearly tea, which is one you forget about afterwards, and hurried on to Pooh Corner, so as to see Eeyore before it was too late to have a Proper Tea with Owl." The House at Pooh Corner

"Pooh always like a little something at eleven o'clock in the morning, and he was very glad to see Rabbit getting out the plates and mugs; and when Rabbit said, 'Honey or condensed milk with your bread?' he was so excited that he said, 'Both', and then, so as not to seem greedy, he added, 'but don't bother about the bread, please'." Winnie-the-Pooh

" ' Pooh', Owl said, 'Christopher Robin is giving a party'. 'Oh!' said Pooh. And then seeing that Owl expected him to say something else, he said, 'Will there be those little cake things with pink sugar icing?' Owl felt it was rather beneath him to talk about little cake things with pink sugar icing." Winnie-the-Pooh

One of my favourite recipes from this lovely little book is one for Banana Bread. Whenever we had some bananas starting to get too ripe, Anna would make Banana Bread for us. When I left the house and moved to the big bad city, Anna came to my apartment once a week, and I always made sure there were enough too-ripe bananas for two banana breads: one for me and one for her to take home. They were good times, and she was a good friend, and whenever I make this bread, I think of her.

Banana Bread

225g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salk
100g butter
225g sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons lemon juice
100ml milk
100g chopped dark chocolate, optional (not part of the original recipe, but I had some extra, and these days I can have as much chocolate as I want)

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Sift together flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar, then add eggs and bananas. Add lemon juice to milk. Add flour mixture and milk mixture to banana mixture alternately, ending with flour mixture. Stir in the chopped chocolate if using.

Pour into a greased 1kg loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Allow to cool in tin under a clean tea towel.


  1. We had old Griet looking after us when growing up and reading this brought a tear to my eye this morning....come to think of it Griet had a huge influence on my love for cooking.....Love Ana's banana bread!

  2. That's such a touching story! How lovely to have someone like that in your life. The bread looks really yummy too. My kids love banana bread.

  3. Great story! Banana bread is my best way of using up ripe bananas too.

  4. We didn't have an "Anna", but my mom and her siblings had a Nellie growing up and I just love listening to the stories about her. Funnily enough, also mostly revolving around food!

  5. What a wonderful story! We had Ellen when I was growing up - I was so convinced that she was one of the family that when I started learnign to write, I would write out all our names including hers, as if she really were a blood relation! She eventually married a school principal who felt that housekeeping/babysitting was beneath her and so she became a lady of leisure, but she visited us for years after she stopped working for us. Been looking for a good banana bread recipe as my mom didn't write hers down and now she and the recipe are both gone :( Maybe this is The One!