OF BANANA BREAD
there is not a lot of hard evidence, when looking at
the history of banana bread, there are three things
breads (no yeast)
first breads probably originate from Neolithic times,
some 12,000 years ago. This was a very primitive bread
probably made from stone crushed grain mixed with water
and cooked on hot stones and covered with hot ashes.
The Egyptians probably discovered around 4,000 BC that
wheat dough ferments (think sourdough), thus
forming gases, producing a lighter more pleasant eating
and tasting loaf.
Banana originated in South-east Asia (probably on
the Malaysian archipelago) and spread from India,
to the Philippines, New Guinea, etc. It was cultivated
by about 2,000 BC, but these people were rice eaters,
and wheat was unknown there, so breads were not
part of their culture.
(a Greek naturalist philosopher) around the Fourth
century BC, in what is probably the first scientific
book on botany, describes the banana plant. We know
that the Greeks made bread with honey, spices and fruits
around the time of Pliny (23 to 79 AD), and we
also know that Pliny had knowledge of the banana (he
also described them in 77 AD). So could the Greeks
have made any banana bread? A possibility, they made
bread and had bananas.
flat breads (non-leavened) were made throughout
the Middle East as early as 7,000 BC - but did they
have bananas? Probably not until much later.
banana bread recipes for the most part are 'quick
breads' . . . that is leavened with baking powder.
breads (chemically leavened) which most banana
bread recipes are, were not developed until the end
of the Eighteenth century. This took place in America,
where pearlash was discovered.
is a refined form of potash, and it produces carbon
dioxide gas in dough. In 'American Cookery' (1796)
which was the first American cook book, Amelia Simmons
published recipes using pearlash. Around this time America
was also recorded as exporting around 8,000 tons of
pearlash to Europe. But Amelia Simmons has no specific
recipe for banana bread.
powder was not developed commercially until 1857 (phosphate
baking powder). So the banana bread as we know it
(a quick bread) could have been first made in
America in the Eighteenth century when housewives discovered
pearlash as a chemical leavening agent.
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article is from Chef James Ehler of Key West, Florida.
is a webmaster, cook, chef, writer and (like me) a self-confessed
computer nerd. He is the former executive chef of Martha's
Steak & Seafood Restaurant and the former Reach Hotel
(both in Key West), the Hilton Hotel in Fayetteville,
Arkansas, and the New Bern Golf and Country Club, North
is now webmaster and cook at the Blue Heaven Restaurant
in Key West while he works on his Food Encyclopedia
(five years so far). It is well worth paying a visit
to James' food reference website which is a useful resource
well worth Bookmarking - to visit either website just
click on their title:
Food Reference Website
Blue Heaven Restaurant, Key West, Florida
you want to contact James just email him by clicking
James T. Ehler, 2001
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