Losing anything is frustrating but losing a favorite recipe is worse. I baked a delicious banana cake for my family all through high school. With cream cheese or buttercream frosting, it was one of our all-time favorites. But by the time I was married and setting up my own household, it was lost. I duplicated my mother’s iconic Better Homes & Garden red plaid cookbook and wrote down countless other favorites for my own recipe file but could not remember where the banana cake recipe originated. At the time it wasn’t such a loss because I thought a common recipe like that must be easy to find in one of the many cookbooks in my collection. But I was wrong. None of them were the same.
After my mother passed away I added her cookbooks to my own; but now that I am in my sixties, I have plenty of favorite recipes from years of perfecting and collecting and usually op for my standards. On a whim one day I picked up a worn paperback Home Bureau cookbook, 1945, that had been my grandmother’s and began looking for my own notes in the pages. I found the taffy recipe I made for my brothers and the 7 Minute Frosting recipe that was popular in my youth. Then I found it…the Banana Nut Cake. Written in my scribble at the top was the word “good.”
Those World War II era recipes were a bit of a challenge when I was growing up. I learned that a moderate oven was 350 degrees F., a slow oven was 325 degrees, and a hot oven was 400 – 425 degrees. The recipe usually didn’t suggest a pan size either; it was just something most cooks knew. I learned this recipe is a perfect cake for a 9×13″ pan; but because I crave this cake, I now bake it in two 8″ pans. I serve one immediately and freeze the second for another day. This prevents me from eating all left-over pieces. A little of this moist cake thick with frosting goes a long way on my thighs.
WWII BANANA NUT CAKE
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup ripe bananas cut fine or mashed 
- 1/4 cup sour milk or buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cut chopped walnuts
- 2 cups flour
METHOD: Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt together 3 times. Cream butter, add sugar and cream together, add beaten eggs and bananas, then flour and milk alternately. Beat after each addition. Add nuts and vanilla in some of the flour. Bake in greased pan [9×13″] in moderate oven [350 degrees]. [35 to 40 minutes]
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING FOR ONE 9X13 OR 2 8″ CAKES: Cream 1 small block cream cheese with 1 teaspoon vanilla in mixer. Add 1 lb powdered sugar and enough 1/2 and 1/2 or cream to make of spreading consistency. Double this recipe if you wish to make a layer cake.
TIP: To assemble a layer cake, freeze cake layers until firm. Fill center and stack. Frost stacked cake with a light crumb coat. Before frosting the outside, you may return the cake to the freezer or refrigerator to set crumb coat. Frost the top and sides of the cake.