Anna’s Great-Nana’s Banana Nut Bread

One of my wedding gifts from my Nana (my dad’s mother) was a collection of her favorite recipes to add to my recipe box. They’re not the recipes I make all the time – most of them are desserts and special occasion foods – but some of them are real treasures.

I occasionally, like many people, purchase too many bananas. I eat them frequently, but some weeks I end up forgetting about them until they start to be past their raw-eating-prime. (AKA they turn black and smushy)

Usually when this happens, I make smoothies.

At one point, however, I decided to see if I had a good banana bread recipe around. While digging through my recipe box, I came across one in my Nana’s handwriting, but the recipe isn’t hers. The recipe belonged to her mother in law, my Great-Nana Erma Martoccio, who lived in New York in the early 1900’s. She is largely responsible for my Nana being an amazing cook, since my Nana is a farm girl from rural Tennessee and only comes by her Italian cooking by marriage.

It’s a very simple recipe, with no particularly special ingredients, but the bread is spectacular. (It is neither low fat nor low calorie, but this is special-occasion bread.)

Anna’s Great-Nana’s Banana Nut Bread
Recipe courtesy of Erma Martoccio


  • Two regular loaf pans or three “small” loaf pans
  • A mixer
  • A large bowl, a small bowl, the usual assortment of measuring cups, a spatula


  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 1 1/2c. sugar
  • 1 1/2c. mashed ripe bananas (3-4 medium)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk, divided
  • 2 c. flour, divided
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Optional: 3/4 c. chopped nuts (I use pecans)
  • Optional: 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

I also usually make this in my stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but you can easily do it with a hand mixer and a spatula.

The Program:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease the bottoms only of your loaf pans with non-stick spray or butter. I use three 1.2 quart Pyrex glass loaf pans (they have red lids, and are, I think, storage dishes, but they bake just fine).
  2. Cream together the butter and the sugar. While the mixer is going, crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat with a fork.
  3. Blend in the mashed bananas, beaten eggs, and vanilla
  4. Add, in order and mixing on low speed in between, 1/4c. buttermilk, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4c. butter milk and the final cup of flour.
  5. With the spatula, gently mix in the nuts and chocolate chips, if using.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the loaf pans.
  7. If using two 9×5 loaf pans, bake for 70-75 minutes. If using three smaller loaf pans, bake for 50-55 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean, and the loaves should be golden brown and delicious. The tops of the loaves may crack – that’s OK (even desirable).

This recipe freezes well and will keep in the refrigerator (cooled completely and wrapped well) for at least a week or two… but it never lasts that long in my house. The chocolate chips are my own idea and not in the original recipe, but they are quite a delicious addition, if I do say so myself.


St Pat’s Day Soda Bread

Recipe courtesy of the Crim School Cookbook (my elementary school), author unknown.

This is a pretty basic recipe and doesn’t actually have any instructions with it. I’ll clarify where I can and can add more help in comments if needed!

Mix together:

  • 2C Flour
  • 2T sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Cut in:

  • 2 T butter (real butter, please)

Mix in

  • 3/4C plus 3T buttermilk

Knead for 3 minutes with

  • 1/2 cup dried currants, raisins, or dried cranberries (optional)

Shape into a round or oblong loaf. Dust the top lightly with flour. Using a long serrated knife, cut a 1/2 inch deep X or cross shape in the top of the loaf.

Bake at 375ºF for 35 minutes or until the top is deep golden brown. I bake mine on a heated pizza stone, but a greased baking sheet works too.

Now for the hard part: Let it cool on a cooling rack before you slice it, serve with lots of butter.

Anna’s Momma’s Monkey Bread

Start this 12 hours before you want to eat it (the night before).


  • 1 package frozen yeast rolls (24 ct)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 3.5 oz box regular vanilla pudding mix (NOT instant)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (or a few handfuls) chopped nuts
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted

Grease and flour a bundt or tube pan.

Place the frozen rolls in the pan. Mix sugars, pudding, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the rolls in the pan. Pour the melted butter over the rolls.

Leave on the counter overnight (DO NOT COVER). In the morning, bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, then invert the pan onto a large plate and sprinkle with nuts. Serve immediately.

(Fill the pan with hot water immediately too, and add a spoonful of baking soda – that way you’ll not end up with caked on sugary goo in your pan!)