1950’s Banana Cake

1950's banana cake

1950’s banana cake

My mother let each child choose his own birthday cake while we were growing up.  My little heart worked overtime each year to decide between banana cake and fresh pear pie.  Both are awe-inspiring!

I spell out the wonders of my mother’s banana cake here. The delectable pie will follow this fall, in a series of recipes extolling my family’s favorite meal since the 1950’s.  You will be pleased until then with this memorable confection.

I grew up in the small tourist village of East Glacier Park, Montana.  It is the east entrance to the spectacular display of Rocky Mountains in Glacier National Park.  I have seen mountain ranges all over the world; none compare with that of my home.

There my young mother was mentored by several “older” women as I was maturing; one was Leone Brown.  She was all of 50 at the time, but she seemed very old to me.  This knowledgeable woman taught Mom much about cooking; she created many beautiful crafts for her as well.  My 93 year old mother still has her handmade Easter eggs, made out of delicate egg shells.

This beloved cake is a fruit of Leone’s bountiful wisdom; I have made it with joy since the early ’70’s.  Believe me: it will knock your socks off!

Banana Cake  Yields: 2-9 inch layer or 2-9 x 5 inch loaf pans.  Total prep time: 2 hr & 20 min/  active prep time: 50 min/  baking time: 30 min/  inactive prep time-for freezing cakes to facilitate easy frosting: 1 hr or longer.

Note:  1 1/2 recipes will be needed for 3-8 inch layers; may make two loaf cakes and freeze them separately on paper plates; after freezing frosted cakes, seal them in gallon size freezer bags, for cutting off frozen slices as needed; dessert is always on hand for unexpected guests!

¼ cup milk  (Soured with few drops of lemon juice from a squeeze ball.)

¾ cup butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar  (I prefer coconut sugar or sucanat, evaporated cane juice.)

2 large eggs

2 ½ cups flour  (Bob’s Red Mill unbleached flour is best, or 1  2/3 cups organic, soft white winter wheat berries freshly ground to make 2 ½ cups flour.)

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt  (Real Salt is best, available in the health section of local supermarket.)

3 ripe medium bananas  (About 1 ½ cups, mashed.)

1 tsp vanilla

Spray oil  (PAM coconut spray oil is best.)

Flour for dusting the sprayed pans

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sour milk in a medium/large bowl with a few drops of lemon juice.  Set aside.
  3. Cream butter in a large bowl, add sugar, beat until light.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well with each addition.  Set aside.
  4. Shake together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a sealed gallon-size storage bag, or stir all together in a large bowl with a fork.
  5. Add bananas and vanilla to sour milk, mash bananas with a fork, and blend well.  Set aside.
  6. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing well; then, add ½ the banana mixture to this, beating well.  Repeat steps, using remaining flour and bananas.  Beat extra well.
  7. Spray cake pans; dust with flour.
  8. Pour batter in prepared pans.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until cake lightly springs bake when you press with finger.  You may also test with a toothpick, if it has wet dough on it, the cake is not done.  Do not over bake!
  9. Cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Slide a knife around the edges, gently remove cakes, and cool thoroughly on a wire rack, or better yet freeze these for at least 1 hour to facilitate frosting (this inhibits the crumbling of cake as you frost).

Cream Nut Frosting  (Note: make 1 ½ recipes for a three layer cake.)

2 ½ tbsp flour

½ cup cream  (May use milk, but whipping cream is better.)

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup sugar  (Preferably organic cane sugar, available at Costco, or in a 2 pound bag at Trader Joe’s.)

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp vanilla

4 cups powdered sugar (Trader’s has organic powdered cane sugar.)

1 cup pecan pieces (Cheapest when bought in bulk at local supermarket.)

  1. Blend flour and cream in a small saucepan with a wire whisk.  Cook over medium/low heat, stirring constantly, until a thick paste is formed.  Set aside, cool to room temperature.
  2. Cream butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer, add sugar, beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Blend in salt and vanilla.
  4. Add cooled cream paste, beat well.
  5. Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar, beating thoroughly.  Add more powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating with each addition until all is incorporated.
  6. Frost the frozen layer or loaf cakes.  Cover top and sides with pecans.  (If freezing cakes for future use, be sure to freeze frosting on cakes before sealing in gallon size freezer bags.)

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