Elmwood Pastry Shop
1136 New Britain Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06110
“Being sweet to you is our business,” this shop declares, and it has been since 1948 as this family-owned bakery announces with pride on its menus, boxes, bags and web site. Among their dazzling displays of cakes, cookies and other sweet delights, however, are rows and rows of freshly baked bread, including both traditional Italian, Jewish Rye, French and other dinner and sandwich loaves, as well as sweeter breakfast and desert breads — including Banana Nut Bread. Although a moist and delightful old school favorite, the venerable banana nut bread has a lot of competition in the bread case at the Elmwood Pastry Shop. The cinnamon pecan coffee cake yogurt bread in particular is the current favorite to take the top spot from its elder banana cousin, and that coffee cake yogurt bread it now comes in a cranberry and blueberry variety as well.
E. Draghi & Sons Farm Bakery
80 Main St.
South Glastonbury, CT 06073
For nearly a century, the Draghi family has been growing fruit at their orchard and farm in South Glastonbury, and they not only sell the fruits when they are freshly picked, they also make them into pies and breads. They make an assortment of traditional Italian savory breads as well as the fruity types, and while they do grow bananas, they buy and use them in not one, or two but three, varieties of banana bread. The bakers at Draghi make both traditional banana and banana walnut breads, but also make a third, signature type: banana chocolate chip bread. Draghi offers more than a dozen other sweet breads, including those made with apples, pumpkins, blueberries, raspberries, oranges, lemons and combinations (like cranberry orange), and offer but nut and nut-free versions of several of their breads. The three varieties of banana, however, are still among their most popular.
When Pigs Fly Cafe
97 Rope Ferry Road
Waterford, CT 06385
When Pigs Fly Cafe is not just a cafe – they are also a bakery, and they make everything fresh from scratch, including their wonderful banana bread, which they use in their signature French toast. The bread menu is extensive at When Pigs Fly, and owners, chefs and bakers Sarina and Gwen McGugan have kept it that way for more than a decade. They also make strawberry bread, blueberry cream cheese bread, apple cobbler bread and an assortment of seasonal breads —notably pumpkin bread in the fall.
Bantam Bread Company
853 Bantam Road
Bantam, CT 06750
Banana bread is frequently but not always on the list of loaves being baked at the Bantam Bread Company, but it is always available in a smaller form among the “tea cakes.” These “cakes” are actually miniature loaves of breads, and the banana walnut is among the most popular of the six types of tea cakes that are always available (until they sell out) at Bantam Bread Company. Bantam Bread also makes seasonal tea cakes, such as their Pumpkin Pecan in the autumn, but their little Banana Walnut loaves are fresh baked daily, though they go fast.
Blackberry River Baking Company
18 E. Main St.
Canaan, CT 06018
Audrey Leary is the co-owner and head baker at the Blackberry River Baking Company in Canaan, in the very northwest corner of Connecticut. She and her assistant baker, Nicole Beattie, bake a mean banana bread, but usually only to fill a special request or catering order. Every day, Audrey and Nicole bake all kinds of cakes, pies, cookies, confections and breads, and they are constantly changing up the mix, especially the selection of pies and breads that require fruit as a key ingredient. There are just some days when the bananas look so good, or they have so many, however, that banana becomes the fruit of the day for breads and muffins. When that happens, the result is a batch of loaves of wonderfully moist, rich banana bread, slices of which are perfect to accompany a morning cup of coffee or an afternoon cup of tea.
Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.