I hope this Sunday finds everyone doing exactly what they want to be doing. In my case, that would be curled up on my couch reading a book. I try to find a few minutes every weekend to do this while my kids are awake (it’s trickier than it might seem), because sometimes it’s okay to make them find their own fun while you do what you love. And if they resist, you could stick one of these banana nut bars in front of them and buy yourself a few minutes of quiet chewing.
The recipe for these banana bars comes from my grandmother’s copy of The Anniversary Slovak-American Cookbook. I swapped in butter where the original called for shortening, but otherwise the recipe is the same. The butter and sugar are creamed together so that the bars have a light and fluffy texture, and the addition of sour creams gives them an unexpected richness. The walnuts add crunch, and the sprinkling of powdered sugar makes them special. This is one of those classic simple recipes that should be in everyone’s back pocket, especially if, like me, you always seem to have bananas going brown on your counter.
To make the bars, first prepare your pan. Line a 9” by 13” pan with a long piece of aluminum foil. Make sure that you have enough overlap on the short sides to lift the foil up after the bars have baked. Separate your eggs, putting the whites in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until everything is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, followed by the mashed bananas. Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add half of them to the wet ingredients and mix gently to combine. Add the sour cream and mix it in, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Try not to over mix, or the bars will be too chewy. Fold in the egg whites until no white streaks remain, then gently mix in the walnuts.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake them for 45 minutes in a 325°F oven, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let them cool in the pan for a few minutes, then lift up on the foil to remove them. Let them cool before cutting into bars and sprinkling them with powdered sugar.
- ⅔ cup butter, softened
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1 cup mashed bananas (from about 3 bananas)
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons sour cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
- Line a 13” by 9” baking pan with aluminum foil and butter the foil. Leave enough overhang on the short sides to lift the foil out after the bars bake. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl and a hand mixer). Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until combined, then stir in the mashed bananas.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- With the mixer on the lowest setting, add half of the dry ingredients to the bowl, followed by the sour cream and the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
- In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter by hand until no white streaks remain. Gently stir in the nuts.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan, then pull out the foil and slice into bars.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.