make-do banana bread recipe

by | May 13, 2020 | a slice of life, Recipes | 18 comments

In the early days of quarantine, I remember feeling a little panicked about food.  Maybe panicked is too strong of a word, but I was worried about the unknown.  I have some small experience with food shortage and not knowing what you’re going to be able to get each day.  I spent a summer in Russia, just a few years after the wall fell.  I lived in an apartment with my dad and, as the lady of the house, I was responsible for the shopping and cooking.  I liked homemaking even then and my dad was always one to push me into the deep end to see if I could make it.

We shopped together the first few times and I learned that it was nothing like going into an American grocery store.  Their stores were small, more like the size of a gas station market, and the shelves were almost completely empty.  And that’s not an exaggeration.  On an entire aisle, there might be four 2L bottles of Coke, a few boxes of dry pasta, a jar of mayonnaise.   I bought yogurt, milk, butter, and eggs from a little stall and had to bring my own carton for the eggs and a backpack to carry my purchases.  Loaves of bread were purchased from a small bakery and they were just handed to you.  No paper or bag or anything.  Here is your loaf from my bare hands to yours.

Produce was purchased from people sitting on the curb, offering the latest picked from their Dacha garden.  (A Dacha is a little country home that most family’s owned.  They would have a garden, a small house (usually without indoor plumbing or electricity), and a banya (a spa where you sit in the steam and they beat you with birch branches!)

I also bought ice cream from a box on the side of the road.

Nothing could be bought that wasn’t in season and I had to learn to go to my various stops for food every few days and see what was available to purchase.  We ate a lot of cucumbers, eggs, bread with mayonnaise on it, yogurt, squash, berries, and we’d buy some lunches and dinners from a local restaurant to supplement.

It was during this trip that I fell in love with raspberries.  I ate the fresh off the bush until I was full!  I always thought they were too tart, but they were heavenly.

I learned what I was made of that summer as I shopped, cooked, navigated the tram system, washed laundry by hand, and went without hot water all summer.  It was hard at first, but eventually, those things became normal to me and I stopped missing all of the things I didn’t have.  I left Russia with tears, sad to leave our apartment and the friends I had made.

I share this story that seems completely unrelated to Banana bread because it was the time that came to mind when I started to feel worried about the unknown food situation.  We are so used to getting everything we want right when we want it.  We don’t follow seasons and we can readily purchase foods grown on the other side of the world.  But when that’s not the case, everything becomes more precious.

I remember taking an entire day to hunt down some potatoes with a couple of friends that summer.  I was finally able to purchase some off of a friend of a friend and I was so thankful for them.  I hugged them to my chest as we rode home on the tram.  I never felt such affection for a vegetable.

In that first week under the Stay at Home order, when I noticed the browning, squishy bananas on the counter, they had more value to me than they did just a week earlier when I might’ve pitched them.  I did the obvious thing and made some banana bread, but I only had two bananas when the recipe called for five.  This led to a make-shift recipe that turned into the yummiest banana bread.

banana bread recipe | Miss Mustard Seed |

To make up for the banana shortage, I mixed in apple sauce and it turned out great.  I actually used five bananas and no applesauce in the next loaf and we all liked my makeshift recipe much better.  The crust was crispy instead of dry and the center wasn’t as wet and heavy.  I also use a mix of butter and canola oil instead of all one or all the other.

Here is the recipe (there is a printable version at the bottom of the post)…

banana bread recipe | Miss Mustard Seed |

The mashed bananas and applesauce should equal 1 1/2 cups total.

banana bread recipe | Miss Mustard Seed |

banana bread recipe | Miss Mustard Seed |

I mix all of my wet ingredients (including the sugar, which is considered a wet ingredient in baking) in one bowl and all of my dry ingredients in another and then gently mix them together.  You can add walnuts and/or chocolate chips if you want.  I prefer having some goodies in my banana bread, but I’m alone on that preference in the Parsons’ house.

banana bread recipe | Miss Mustard Seed |

I am usually not a fan of banana bread crust, but this version creates a delicious crust that’s a little crispy.  It’s a nice contrast to the soft crumb and gooey top.

banana bread recipe | Miss Mustard Seed |

I bake mine in parchment paper, so it’s easy to lift out and let it cool on all sides immediately.  This prevents the loaf from getting soggy from sitting in its own steam.

banana bread recipe | Miss Mustard Seed |

And then we eat it for breakfast and snacks and dessert until it’s gone!

I have informed my family that we’ll have to cool it on the banana bread for a while, because mom is starting to wear it on her hips and she doesn’t want to have to resist fresh banana bread…

Make-Do Banana Bread

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American


  • 2 mashed ripe bananas
  • apple sauce added to the mashed bananas to make 1 1/2 cups total
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Line a loaf baking tin with parchment paper
  • Mix all wet ingredients together (including sugar) in a bowl
  • Mix all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl
  • Mix all ingredients together until combined
  • Pour into lined (or lightly greased) loaf baking tin and cook for 55 minutes at 350. Check center with a toothpick. Loaf is done with the toothpick comes out clean.
Keyword banana, bread, quick bread

PS – As I was writing this story, I realized I should share more about my time in Russia someday.  It really was a special summer that helped me grow up a lot and I often look back on it as a time when I learned that I am made of firmer stuff than I originally thought.



  1. Suzi M

    Look forward to trying this recipe and reading more about your time spent in Russia.

  2. Sarah

    Yes. Would love to learn more about this adventure

  3. Lyn

    A summer in Russia! How exciting. Sounds like a novel. We would love to hear more!

    • Bea

      I too would love to learn more about your summer in Russia. I found what you wrote about that summer very interesting. I love banana bread and I’ll definitely try your recipe.

  4. Janis

    Don’t ever toss bananas! Just freeze them in the peeling. I usually wait until I have enough to triple my

  5. Dad

    Отлично!!! Папа!
    Outstanding article! Dad

  6. Sandra

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe – look forward to trying it if I can substitute the sugar : )
    Love your IG post about your experience in Russia – what a great life lesson – communism is something Americans should NEVER want to experience – NEVER !!!! This terrible pandemic is just a small taste of what communism is like in a country filled with good, hard working people but are so oppressed by their governments UGH !!!! and the thought that some might contemplate it to be “a good thing” – WHAT ????
    Blessings to you and your family – stay well and safe : )
    Sandra : )

  7. Babs

    You really haven’t changed much from your darling younger self!

    • Elaine

      I loved hearing of your Russian experiences, as well. I was there for 3 weeks just after the fall. Indeed my experience was very similar! I had no idea it would be so difficult to find something to eat. The stores were just as you described-hardly ANY food! However, I’d add that you had to pay for things at different cash registers. So, butter from one checkout place, but to get a spiral notebook or a can of something, I’d have to go to a different cash registers. AND, no one stood in a line! So you just keep fighting your way to the front. It wasn’t “mean”-just custom for them. All fresh food was outside the train station or subway stop-on a blanket on the ground-fresh from the dachas. So interesting. You ate what you could find-and afford. My FAVORITE meal EVER, was at the end of the trip when I was invited by friends to dinner. My friend had hunted far and wide for pickles (like you and potatoes) so she could make us potato salad; she served with beets, and a vegetable patty. Simple meal-but tasted soooo good because of the shortages we experienced. But, the Russian people we met-oh, what beautiful people they were! A friend I made there, came over the following year to spend a month with me. She’d never been out of the former USSR. I took her to a grocery store to pick up some of her favorite things and she stopped right inside the door—unable to move with tears streaming down her face. She finally said, “I HEARD Americans had choices, but I could have NEVER envisioned THIS!” To say life with the real everyday people of Russia wouldn’t change you, wouldn’t be accurate. I’ve never been the same. Travel like that changes you!

  8. Arlene

    Looks tasty! Bananas are great to use as sweetener in a lot of things, like zucchini bread, pancakes, smoothies, etc. I never have enough brown bananas! Try spreading peanut butter on your banana bread, yum!

  9. Janette

    Two summer ago my husband and I rode bicycles from Moscow to St. Petersburg. What an experience!!! We rode through so many villages that had nothing. There were also many breath taking country side sights. We rode with a Russian cycling club who organized it. We stayed mostly on country roads and stayed in inns. We have traveled extensively, but that was one for the memory books

  10. Cathyv

    Yes! We need the why’s, the how’s, your age and how long you were there! For starters.

  11. SoCalLynn

    I would love to hear more about your time in Russia! You have so many interesting stories.
    I never use oil in my banana bread any more. Always only applesauce in place of the oil in my recipe, and it always turns out delicious.

  12. Marilee

    What a great growth experience you had. It’s something most people haven’t been through, and when I hear others complaining today about shortages, or not being able to go to the beauty or barber shop, I remember some of the stories my parents told about the Depression when I was a child. I’m probably several generations older than most of your followers, and while I don’t remember my mother facing food shortages during the later years of WWII there wasn’t a lot of variety and the Victory Garden my dad grew came in handy. I vaguely recall rationing of certain foods (we had small booklets with stamps in them for things like milk, sugar, flour and gasoline) during WWII and how we saved cooking grease that my mother took to the butcher when the can got full. I think that was turned into glycerin and used somehow in making munitions. Anyway, I think this whole episode over the past few months has been a wake-up call for many of us, aside from worrying about the danger from the Covid virus. I do hope you share more stories about your time in Russia, and maybe your time in Europe, too. I might try your banana bread recipe, too. Mine is always too heavy. The applesauce should help. Thanks again for sharing.

  13. Wendy

    The story of your summer in Russia is so interesting! I do not have a life experience that equates to our current situation, but regardless, I have spent these weeks thinking with great sympathy of all the people who routinely live with empty shelves, and worse! Some with no shelves. I am so appreciating everything; the things that I always took for granted.

  14. sandi

    I would claim a fourth of the loaf where after pouring batter in the pan, add your “additions” in that section. I always love dried cranberries, pecans or cacao bibs.

  15. annette

    Love reading about your experience in Russia and seeing those sweet photos. If you are so inclined, I recommend a wonderful book: A Gentleman in Moscow. p.s. Your home is beautiful!

  16. Esther

    5 stars
    Made this bread and of all the banana breads I’ve had this is my favorite. The crust is golden and a little bit crusty around the edges and the inside is moist and tasty. I used 1 1/2 cups of puréed bananas because I did not have applesauce and increased the cinnamon a little bit. Thanks so much from a long time reader.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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