banana_cake_1The other day as I was looking in my freezer I noticed my collection of black bananas had considerably grown.  Whenever bananas get too ripe for me to enjoy, I toss them in the freezer as a way of preserving them for some other use.  As a kid growing up on a farm in a household that was “less than wealthy”, we were taught not to waste food.  Now as an adult I completely understand and appreciate this valuable principle my parents were trying to instill in all of us.  I decided it was time to do something with some of my rescued fruit, but what?

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Banana bread of course was the first thing that came to mind and I almost went there, but that is what I always do and I wanted something different.  Then out of the blue I recalled a cake I had as a kid. In the rural setting we grew up in there would be community dinners or pot-lucks every so often, usually in the basement of a nearby church.  One of the families always brought a banana cake with vanilla frosting to the suppers.  I remembered just how much I loved that cake,  and realized I had not seen or even thought about a banana cake in decades.

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I set about searching for the perfect cake recipe to use up some of my bananas.  During my searching I realized that banana cake really is considered a retro dessert. Very popular in the 50’s and 60’s, the appearance of this dessert has become rather scarce.  Most of the recipes I came across were titled “Old Fashioned” or “Grandmothers” banana cake.  I settled on this recipe which reminds me of the cake I had as a kid.  I also liked the fact the author of the recipe was written by Mamie, not a name you see often today, but most likely someones grandmother.  For the frosting I turned to someone who has been around for a long time and was there before retro was retro, the sweet talker herself Betty Crocker.  Of course I had to pimp up this dessert a bit by making it a 4 story cake, and adding toasted walnuts and drizzles of chocolate and peanut butter.  Far from that church basement dessert I so fondly remember, this cake really is a rock star of cakes.

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Banana Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting:

Cooks Note: This recipe was written by Mamie L. Christopherson which I found on Relish.com.  I used two 6″ cake pans to make a tall 4 layer cake.  Baking time described is for 2 – 9″ cake pans.  If using different sized pans, adjust time accordingly. 

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • ½  cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1   cup sugar
  • 2   eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1   teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1   cup ripe bananas (3 to 4), mashed
  • 1   cup buttermilk
  • 2¼  cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2½  teaspoon baking powder
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • ½  cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Frosting:

  • 3   cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3  cup butter, softened
  • 1½  teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½  teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)
  • 1-2  Tablespoons milk

Method:

Heat oven to 375ºF. Grease and flour 2 – 9″ cake pans.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix well to combine.

In a separate bowl combine bananas and buttermilk.

Sift together all dry ingredients. Add flour mixture to butter and sugar a third at a time, alternating with banana buttermilk mixture.  Fold in nuts if desired.

Divide batter equally between the two prepared cake pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Remove cakes from pans and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

To prepare frosting, mix together powdered sugar and butter with a spoon or a mixer on low-speed.  Add vanilla and 1 Tablespoon of the milk.

Gradually add in just enough remaining milk to make the frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting becomes to thick, slowly add more milk a few drops at a time.  If frosting is too thin, add small amount of powdered sugar.

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