Banana Bread History

The first breads originate from Neolithic age, 12,000 years ago. This primitive bread probably made with crushed grain and water was cooked on hot stones or hot ashes. The Egyptians discovered around 4,000 B.C. that wheat dough ferments (sourdough), thus gases, producing a lighter more pleasant eating.

The Banana originated in Southeast Asia, probably Malaysia and spread to India, Thailand, Phillipines etc. The Banana was cultivated there by about 2,000 B.C., but wheat was unknown in Asia and not part of those peoples culture.

Theophrastus, a Greek naturalist philosopher around the 4th century B.C., first describes the banana plant. We know, the Greeks made bread with honey, fruits and spices around 23-79 A.D. – So, could the Greeks have made banana bread? A possibility!

– But banana bread recipes are “quick breads”, that is leavened with baking powder.

Quick breads (chemically leavened), were not developed until the end of the 18th century. The same time in America “pearlash” was discovered. Pearlash produces carbon dioxide gas in dough.

In the first American cook book “American Cookery” (published 1796) where recipes using pearlash, and in 1792 the United States exported some 8,000 tons of bananas to Europe.

But the book had no specific recipe for banana bread!

Baking powder was developed in 1857 (phosphate baking powder).

So banana bread as a quick bread could have been first made in the 18th century, from housewives using pearlash as chemical leavening agent.

Banana Bread Cake