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?


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
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
Moist and delicious banana layer cake with a creamy vanilla frosting. Popular in the 50’s and 60’s this recipe gives this retro treat a new twist.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Retro
Servings: 16 Slices
  • 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
  • cups all-purpose flour sifted
  • 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
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla powder optional
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk
  1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Grease and flour 2 – 9″ cake pans.
  3. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well to combine.
  5. In a separate bowl combine bananas and buttermilk.
  6. Sift together all dry ingredients.
  7. Add flour mixture to butter and sugar a third at a time, alternating with banana buttermilk mixture.
  8. Fold in nuts if desired.
  9. Divide batter equally between the two prepared cake pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  10. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
  1. Mix together powdered sugar and butter with a spoon or a mixer on low-speed.
  2. Add vanilla and 1 Tablespoon of the milk.
  3. 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.
  1. Cut cakes in half to create 4 layers
  2. Spread frosting between layers to stack
  3. Stand in fridge for 30 minutes to firm up before frosting top and sides
  4. Gently press chopped walnuts on to the sides of the cake
  5. Decorate with melted chocolate and butterscotch (optional)
Cooks Notes

This recipe was written by Mamie L. Christopherson which I found on 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.




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