Banana Cake – Banana Bread with a Twist

250 Classic Cake RecipesI have to admit, I’m going kind of crazy with the banana bread recipes like grandma used to make. There are so many great vintage recipes for banana bread! And since Dan always has a few lying around that are past their prime (I don’t eat them in their “fresh” state), I always have plenty of material to work with.

So this week I tried something a bit different – Banana Layer Cake from 250 Classic Cake Recipes edited by the very prolific Ruth Berolzheimer in 1951. This is one of those cool vintage cookbooks that your mom always had in the cupboard. My mom had a slew of them, but I never once saw her actually cook from them. Growing up I would take them down from time to time and flip through them for a laugh or for curiosity. I guess even back then I was starting my interest in vintage cooking.

This cook book is filled with every kind of cake recipe imaginable, as well as icings. There are a few good photos as well to help you learn to ice your cake. Here’s the recipe:

Banana Cake Ingredients

Banana Cake Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (I use King Arthur Cake Flour)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening (butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2 bananas)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt together.
  3. Cream shortening with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each is added. Stir in the vanilla to the egg mixture.
  4. Mash the bananas. Add the buttermilk to the mashed bananas and stir.
  5. Add the sifted dry ingredients and the banana/milk mixture alternately in small amounts to the creamed shortening/egg mixture, beating thoroughly after each addition.
  6. Pour into 2 greased 9 inch round cake pans
  7. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes – test for doneness.
  8. Cool cakes in the pan on racks for 5 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely.
  9. Spread Seven-Minute Icing between layers and on top and sides of cake.
Photos from How to Bake

Photos from How to Bake

The Seven-Minute Icing recipe also comes from the Classic Cake Recipes cookbook. Now if your like me, all your cake recipes have come out of a can! So I was a bit intimidated by this recipe which calls for a double boiler, a rotary beater, and the creation of soft peaks in seven to ten minutes of hard beating. I wanted back up. I remembered that another cookbook, All About Home Baking, 1933, also had a recipe for this frosting, and included detailed step-by-step instructions and most importantly photos. As the page says in big bold letters An easy, sure method for cooked frosting.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients, except vanilla, in top of a double boiler. Beat with rotary beater until thoroughly mixed. Place over rapidly boiling water and beat constantly for 7 to 10 minutes or until icing holds a peak.
  2. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Beat until cool and thick enough to spread.
  3. To spread begin by spreading the top of the lower layer.
  4. Place second cake on top
  5. Frost cake sides and then top of cake

The result – seven minutes passed of intense rotary beating and not a peak in sight. In panic mode I pulled out my electric hand mixer and cheated. This helped a great deal though I feel I never achieved the snowy peaks I see in the photos. But everyone loved the taste of the frosting and it was certainly thick enough. One interesting note was that the frosting hardened a bit after it cooled on the cake. I’m not sure if this is what the end result was supposed to be as the recipe calls it a soft cooked frosting.

Finished Banana Cake

Finished Banana Cake

I had three taste testers for this cake and everyone loved it. The cake was a bit dry, but that may have been because I used powdered butter milk mix as opposed to real butter milk. The flavor had a nice banana taste to it and the icing gave just the right amount of sweetness to the cake to make it a perfect dessert. As usual, unlike some of the modern desserts this one was not overly sweet which was refreshing for the taste testers.

While this is certainly more work than Banana Bread, it make for a nice treat and a great show off dessert.

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