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; until then you will be pleased 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 the fruit of Leone’s bountiful wisdom; personally I have been making 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 1/4 hr (with  inactive prep time of 1 hr or longer for freezing cakes to facilitate easy frosting)/  active prep time: 50 min/  baking time: 25 min.

Note:  1 1/2 recipes will be needed for 3-8 inch layers.  I like to make 2-loaf cakes and freeze them separately on paper plates, sealed in gallon-size freezer bags, for cutting off frozen slices as needed.  Dessert is always on hand for unexpected guests!

1/4 c milk, soured with few drops of lemon juice from a squeeze ball

3/4 c butter, softened

1 1/2 c sugar  (I prefer coconut sugar, or sucanat, evaporated cane juice.)

2 lg eggs

2 1/2 c flour  (Bob’s Red Mill unbleached flour is high quality, or grind 1  2/3 c organic soft white winter wheat berries to make 2 1/2 c fresh ground flour.)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; Himalayan salt is available inexpensively in fine grind at Costco.)

3 ripe medium bananas  (1 1/2 c mashed)

1 tsp vanilla

Spray oil  (Coconut spray oil is best; Pam is available in most supermarkets; our local Winco brand, however, is cheaper.)

Flour for dusting the sprayed pans

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sour milk in a med/large bowl with a few drops of lemon juice from a squeeze ball, set aside.
  3. Cream butter in a large bowl, add sugar, and 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 all (set aside).
  6. Mix 1/2 the flour mixture into butter; then, add 1/2 the mashed bananas into this, beating only until all is incorporated, as over-beating toughens cakes and cookies.  Repeat steps, using remaining flour and bananas.
  7. Spray cake pans; dust with flour.
  8. Pour batter in prepared pans.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes back clean and cake lightly springs bake when you press with finger.  Do not over-bake (time varies with size of pans).
  9. Cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Then, slide a knife around the edges, gently remove cakes, and freeze these on paper plates for at least 1 hour, to facilitate frosting (this inhibits the crumbling of cake as you frost).

Cream Nut Frosting  (Note: make 1 1/2 recipes for a 3-layer cake.)

2 1/2 tbsp flour

1/2 c cream  (Heavy organic whipping cream is best for health.)

1/2 c butter, softened

1/2 c sugar  (Preferably organic cane sugar; available at Costco or Trader Joe’s.)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

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

1 c pecan pieces (Least expensive when bought in bulk at local supermarket.)

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

Scottish oat scones and more…

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One spring day in Montana’s Big Sky country changed my creative life forever.  An imaginative oil painting of mine was drying in the living room; my tiny, efficient kitchen brimmed with Spanish tapas; I was entertaining the arts and entertainment editor of the Billings Gazette, whom I knew from my acting world.  She was going to review my article on the historical buildings of this largest city in Montana, for my hopes were she would publish it. She spoke prophetically over me, as we indulged in our lavish repast:  “Leave these other artistic quests; seek your true strength of creating quaint, delectable foods; start catering!”

Thus, I launched my business in 1982, with all the passion of my former poetic attempts.  My first catering assignment was that June, when this editor published her article on one of my French dinners, thus giving the needed exposure to my new dream.  It was a marvelous meal of bouillabaisse (fine fish stew) with all the trimmings; a memorable evening that marked the beginning of my knowing the joy of my life’s calling.

This fire in my soul originated in southern Montana, but in a very short time my eager endeavors spread north, for I catered elegant historical feasts on trips to my home town, of East Glacier Park, and the surrounding area. Here groups would have me return each summer to present my “latest creation”.

One such group had me cater my delicacies to them yearly, for several decades.  How they blessed me: they treated me like fine gold as a guest in their home; they paid for luxurious, needed massages during my intense labors; there was a memorable night sleeping on their sailboat on Flathead Lake; and so much more…

An old-time friend invited me over for this scone recipe during one of these trips north; hence, I fell in love with this slightly sweet, nutty breakfast delight from Scotland.  I have been making these scones ever since, for they held me spell-bound on that morning in the early 1980’s.  I am convinced you’ll be sold on them, too.

Scottish Oat Scones  Yields: 12 servings.  Total prep time: 40 min/  active prep time: 20 min/  baking time: 20 min.

1 egg

2/3 c butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/3 c milk or cream

1/4 c sugar  (Coconut or cane sugar is best.)

1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour  (Optional: may grind 1 c organic soft, winter wheat berries to make a total of 11/2 c flour.)

1/2 c unbleached white flour  (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill.)

1 1/4 c old fashioned rolled oats  (Organic is best, available in bulk at most supermarkets.)

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp cream of tartar (Much cheaper when you buy this in the bulk food section; be sure to save empty spice jars for storage; date the jars and replace with fresh spices yearly.)

1/2 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

1/2 c currants, raisins, or cranberries

Spray oil  (Coconut spray oil is best for flavor and quality.)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Beat egg in a large bowl; mix in butter and milk.  Add sugar and beat well.
  3. Place all other dry ingredients except fruit in a sealed storage bag.  Shake well.  Add this to above liquid mixture, beating just until mixed thoroughly, as over-beating toughens pastries.
  4. Stir in fruit.  IF using freshly ground flour, let dough sit for 45 minutes, as this is a courser grind and absorbs the liquid more slowly than store bought flour.
  5. Shape dough to form a ball; pat out on a cookie sheet, sprayed with oil, to form an 8-inch circle. Mark 12 wedges in dough with a sharp knife. (Note: You may bake this on an ungreased stone, which will require a longer baking time.)
  6. Bake until golden brown in center of oven for about 12-17 minutes.  (Time will vary with cookie sheet vs. stone; stone will take up to 30 minutes.)  Center should be slightly moist; do not over bake.
  7. Remove from oven and cool on pan for 5 minutes; transfer to serving plate.  May serve warm, or at room temperature.  Enjoy!