Adapted from Maida Heatter's Cakes
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mace
About 3 ripe bananas (to make 1 1/3 cups, mashed)
1/4 cup buttermilk
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/4 cup dark or light brown sugar, firmly packed
Finely grated rind of 1 large lemon
4 ounces (1 cup) mix-ins, like walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips, coconut, etc. (optional)
- Adjust a rack to the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and dust it all with flour. Tap to shake out excess flour over a piece of paper. Set aside.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and mace, and set aside.
- Mash the bananas either on a plate with a fork (in a processor or blender, be careful not to liquefy the bananas), or in a small bowl of an electric mixer. You need 1 1/3 cups. Stir the bananas and buttermilk to mix and set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer (if using the mixer for mashing the bananas it is not necessary to wash the beaters), cream the butter.
- Beat in the vanilla and the sugar. Add the egg and beat well.
- On low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients in three additions alternately with the banana mixture in two additions, scraping the side of the bowl as necessary and only beating until incorporated after each addition.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the grated rind and the mix-ins, if using.
- Turn into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean and dry. Let cool in the pan for about 20 minutes.
- Cover with a rack, turn the pan and the rack over, remove the pan and very gently (the loaf is delicate — do not squash it) turn the loaf over again leaving it right side up to cool. If there is time, wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before serving. This is especially good sliced rather thick and well toasted — it becomes very crisp and crunchy; it is best to toast it on a cookie sheet under the broiler.
Makes one 9-inch loaf.