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