There's a basic recipe I like, from the first edition Betty Crocker cookbook (1950 - it isn't exactly mint condition; the spine is held together with duct tape, and some of the pages are in bad condition). Banana bread isn't exactly rocket science, to be honest, but it's practically bulletproof. The basic recipe reads:
2/3 cup sugarStir in:
1/3 cup soft shortening
3 tbsp sour milk or buttermilkSift together and stir in:
1 cup mashed banana (mashed with fork or pastry blender)
2 cups sifted flourBlend in 1/2 cup chopped nuts.
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Pour into well-greased loaf pan. Let stand 20 minutes before baking. Bake at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes. Let it stand for about 10 minutes on a cooling rack before you take it out of the loaf pan.
That's it. Pretty straightforward, and pretty damned quick.
Thing is, you don't have to follow things exactly. Let's start with the fact that I had 3 bananas: probably two cups (I'm not sure - who the hell measures bananas?). Oh, well. Throw it all in there.
I wanted to use brown sugar. That has to be by volume, not weight: you gotta pack it into the measuring cup.
And we don't use a lot of shortening around my house. Normally, I replace butter with shortening (you have to use about 25% more butter), but I had cream cheese that needed to be used - closer to half a cup, maybe a little more.
Had a kind of an issue with the eggs: I started to crack it on the mixing bowl, and apparently found a weak part in the shell - most of the eggwhite ended up on the floor. So I added another egg. This loaf got an extra yolk.
Sour milk? With my son? We can't keep milk in our house long enough to go sour. I swear he just pulls a gallon out of the fridge and sticks a straw in it. And we don't drink a lot of buttermilk in these parts, thanks; I'm not gonna buy it special just to use up a couple of bananas.
Sift? Motherfucker, that's why they MAKE blenders. Just pour it in slowly so you don't get stuff all over the kitchen: first the baking powder, the soda and the salt, then the flour. Lob the nuts in on top, and stop as soon as the flour is mostly mixed in (don't go too long - you don't need the extra gluten that you get from too much mixing).
As for letting it stand before baking for 20 minutes? It sits there long enough for the oven to preheat. And that whole "Let it stand for 10 minutes" thing? Nah - that's how you get it stuck to the loaf pan. I flip it out on the cooking rack right away. (Do I have to mention that it's hot? You're an adult, right?)
And you know how it came out? Goddamned perfect, that's how it came out.