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Going Bananas for the Orishas

Banana bread made with remaining fruit offering to Shangó.

If you have been privileged to attend a Santeria anniversary party or to visit a busy ilé during a batá, you know that food is the centerpiece. Thrones glitter with fabrics and are decorated with a sea of fruits and offerings. What happens to all of that fruit after the party is over?

I find that a song by Willie Chirino lightheartedly sings about respecting offering to the orisha with his famous line “Mr. don’t touch the banana, the banana belongs to Shangó.” If you decide to try this recipe, well you have music to groove as you cook.

However, most times the fruits are shared with the visitors at the end of the party. Even then, there may be fruit left over and rather than leave it to spoil. I like to find ways to use blessed offerings. Here is my recipe for sinful upside-down banana bread.

Kitchen Gear:

9 x 5 (8 cups) non-stick bread mold

1 wooden spoon

1 fork

1 large mixing bowl

1 saucepan

1 table knife

1 wood skewer

2 oven mittens

1 cookie sheet

1 large serving platter

1 serrated knife

A-Bread ingredients:

4-5 large ripe bananas mashed

½ cup of sugar

4 ounces of melted butter

2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon

2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour

1 pinch of salt

3 eggs at room temperature

½ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

2 ounces of Bourbon

2 ounces coconut flakes

2 ounces toasted crushed walnuts

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

B-Caramel ingredients:

1 large banana for decoration

2 ounces of butter (salted is fine)

1 cup of sugar

The zest of a large lime

½ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ ounce butter to grease mold


Peel bananas and place in the mixing bowl, mash with a fork, and then add the rest of the ingredients on list A. Mix with the wooden spoon. Set aside while making the caramel.

Use your saucepan to melt the 2 ounces of butter, add the other ingredients on list B, except the ½ ounce of butter reserved to grease pan.

Grease pan thoroughly. Pour the caramel coating the bottom of the baking pan. Slice the banana for decoration into ½ inch pieces and arrange on top of the hot caramel.

Slice the top with a sharp knife.

Pour break batter onto the caramel and sliced bananas. Place the bread mold on the cookies sheet in case any of the contents were to overflow. You will avoid a mess to clean later.

Bake at 350F for 50 minutes. Test the cake with the skewer. If it comes out clean the bread is done. Otherwise, bake in increments of 5 minutes and test until the skewer comes out clean.

A treat for those patiently waiting in the kitchen.

Pull bread out of the oven, use the mittens to protect your hands and shake the mold gently to loosen the bread, tap the bottom as well, the bananas tend to stick regardless of how well the mold is greased.

If you consider that the bread is loose enough, then even out the top of the cake with a serrated knife. My kids absolutely love to have that piece as a treat. Turn the cake onto the serving platter.

Turn the cake onto the serving platter.

Do not get frustrated if some of the banana pieces stick to the mold, gently get them out and place them on the bread. It happened to me this morning while making this creation. Trust me, it may not be perfect, but it will be appreciated just as well.

Do not be frustrated if the bananas misbehave!

So, going back to the orishas. When I bake something using remaining fruits from the altar, I am careful to offer the first piece to Eleguá and one additional piece to whichever orisha generously shared the fruits with my family.

In this case, Eleguá and Shango are the ones getting the first bites, the rest, well I have Ogún Addá Araí and Ayotomiwá to share with.

I hope this recipe brings you joy.


Oní Yemayá Achagbá

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