Banana bread is one of those comfort foods that can be a snack, a breakfast sweetbread or a dessert. Beyond just being a way to use up over-ripe bananas, banana bread is a simple treat that's easy to make with common pantry ingredients. Recipes calling for oil result in a dense, moist texture, while replacing the oil with shortening or butter gives you a more airy, breadlike result. Add nuts and raisins or drizzle with a powdered sugar or lemon glaze to make a basic banana bread recipe your own.
Measure out the dry ingredients called for in your favorite banana bread recipe. Mix all of these except the sugar in a large mixing bowl until they are well blended. Next, measure out the moist ingredients into another mixing bowl. For a standard one-loaf banana bread recipe, most recipes call for 1/2 to 3/4 cup of oil, shortening or butter. Shortening is aerated as it is made, so it results in an airy texture, but you should still use the same amount of baking soda or powder called for in the oil-based recipe.
Cream the shortening with the sugar, eggs and vanilla until the mixture is well blended and fluffy. You can cream these ingredients by hand or using an electric mixer. When replacing oil with solid shortening, you may need to add a few tablespoons of milk or water beyond those called for in the original recipe. This helps the shortening blend more readily into the other ingredients and also helps maintain the right texture. When the shortening is thoroughly blended into the moist ingredients, carefully fold in the mashed bananas. Add chopped nuts if desired, then stir the creamed mixture into the dry ingredients just until they are blended.
Use the same amount of butter as you would shortening or oil, but cut back on the added water or milk by a few tablespoons to avoid making the batter too thin. Butter provides a richer flavor, but also adds more saturated fats and cholesterol than oil or some shortenings. Follow the same procedures when using butter as you would for shortening.