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I'm the oldest of seven kids (and I still am). On any kid’s birthday, my mother had a rule that the birthday kid could choose anything he or she wanted for the main meal. I often asked for a casserole with rice, wild rice, sour cream, chicken, and mushrooms, plus a little bit of wine for flavor). The birthday kid could also request any flavor of birthday cake, with any kind of frosting. On my birthday, I was the boss. I chose the dinner meal and the cake. It made me happy because on one special day, I could tell my mom what I wanted for dinner.

My grandmother on my father’s side used to make a delicious banana cake (from scratch) with chocolate frosting (also from scratch). So my mom got the recipe from her mother-in-law. I’ll give you the recipe down below, if you want to try it.

Here's another story.

I started dating a woman named Katie in May 2011. Our first date was on Syttende Mai. When my birthday rolled around several months later (October 18th -- which means I share my birthday with Lee Harvey Oswald (assassin) and Jesse Helms (detestable Republican asshole))… when my birthday rolled around, she asked what kind of cake I wanted for my birthday.

I told Katie I’d love to have a banana cake with chocolate frosting, like my mom and grandma used to make. But the recipe was probably lost when my mother died. So I told Katie she could make whatever kind of cake she wanted to. I’d be happy with anything.

But Katie -- bless her heart -- sent an email to my sister and my sister had the recipe. And Katie baked it. The cake (and frosting) were exactly right. So now I’m going to share the recipe on Daily Kos. Here’s my favorite birthday cake (from my grandmother Nanny, passed on to my mother, then to my sister, then to my girlfriend, then to you):

My Grandmother Nanny's Banana Cake

Preheat the oven to 350

1/2 cup shortening (softened butter can be substituted)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp real vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup mashed bananas (very ripe, skin mostly black)
1/2 cup sour milk (or buttermilk)

Mix together the shortening/butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in one bowl.

Sift/combine the dry stuff -- flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder -- in another bowl.

Mash 3 ripe bananas with a fork to make about a cup of banana mush.

To make the sour milk, either add 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar to 1/2 cup of whole milk or you can use 1/2 cup of buttermilk.

To the wet stuff (shortening, egg, sugar, vanilla) add 1/3 of the dry flour stuff then 1/3 of the banana stuff, then 1/3 of the sour milk. Repeat 1/3 at a time until it's all mixed together. Use your best judgment.

Grease a 9x13 baking pan (and sprinkle with flour). Pour in the mixture and bake at 350 until done. At least 30-40 minutes, or maybe longer. Test it to see if it's done. If you bake cakes, you know there’s a way to use a toothpick to test it. 30 minutes at 350 is the minimum.


Chocolate Frosting

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cream (or whole milk)
1/4 cup melted butter
2 squares melted baking chocolate

Mix powdered sugar and cream thoroughly.

Pour in hot melted butter. Mix thoroughly.

Mix in melted chocolate. (If you haven‘t guessed by now, do it thoroughly).

Spread the frosting on top of the banana cake. Let it cool.

Eat and enjoy.


In case you’re wondering, Katie and I are still together after two years. She’s a treasure I don‘t want to ever lose. She’s very smart about everything, plus she‘s smart about finding recipes from my childhood. I love her a lot.

Originally posted to Dbug on Sat Jul 27, 2013 at 11:54 PM PDT.

Also republished by Personal Storytellers.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What a sweet story (6+ / 0-)

    And a sweet dessert too, I'm guessing.

    It's always nice to read happy diaries. T&R

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 12:05:28 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for a great story (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, broths, P Carey, Dbug

    and a great recipe. I make Banana bread from scratch, but cake sound even better.

    El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. The people united will never be defeated

    by mint julep on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 01:19:07 AM PDT

  •  Wonderful context for a prize recipe, thanks. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, broths, P Carey, Dbug
  •  Great story. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, P Carey, Dbug

    I make a similar banana cake but instead of chocolate frosting, I put mini chocolate chips in the cake.  Yummy.

    I am a work in progress. Still.

    by broths on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 05:04:23 AM PDT

  •  Keeping the recipe (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, flowerfarmer, P Carey, Dbug

    My 88 year old mother mentioned recently how much she liked her own mother's banana cake. Your recipe inspires me to make one for her, but I need to let the bananas ripen first.

    Thanks for the nice diary.

    It's easy to be a libertarian if your finances are secure, you have good healthcare and your future is bright.

    by Cecile on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 05:28:07 AM PDT

    •  Pre-cook bananas to sweeten - two methods (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Two ideas from Cook's Country PBS show for using bananas in baking -- using ripe (but not over-ripe) bananas -- to intensify flavor/sweetness.

      Two methods:

      Microwave:  Bananas peeled, in bowl, covered with plastic wrap, nuke 'em.  They will exude liquid which can be used (optional) as part of recipe liquid

      Oven:  Bananas, unpeeled, in ~350 oven until skin blackens & bananas are soft.  Cool, peel, use in recipe

      The pre-cooking acts on the sugars and intensifies flavor.

      Sorry for only outline, no details, but this is from memory.  Website would likely have details.

  •  Great story... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and great recipe! I will be trying it!

    My kids get to pick the meal and cake choices on their birthday as well--I think that's a nice tradition.

    Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

    by mommyof3 on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 06:23:02 AM PDT

  •  I'm raising a tall glass of milk to this diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State, Dbug

    Sounds like we were both born lucky. My maternal grandmother made her banana cake with chocolate "Mary Oliver" frosting a tradition for family birthdays. I'm told Mary Oliver frosting was a popular chocolate confection dating back to the 1930's. Sweet moist banana cake dressed with rich creamy chocolate frosting is a perfect pairing of flavor and texture. This delicious family tradition has recently been carried into its fifth generation.

    I'm always amazed at how certain recipes have migrated over great distances and anchored as popular family traditions for generations upon generations. Banana cake with chocolate frosting is certainly one of these as our family recipe is relatively close to yours.

    We can always expect a few slight tweaks as everyone likes to tinker with recipes to suit their taste preferences. The cake recipe has 4 Tablespoons of cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon less salt and 1/3 cup more sugar. (my Memere had quite a sweet tooth)

    This is her creamy chocolate frosting recipe.

    * 2 cups confectioners' sugar
    * 1/2 cup butter
    * 3/4 cup cocoa powder
    * 1 egg
    * 2 teaspoons vanilla

    Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. If it is too thick, cautiously add milk or cream.

    It's so nice to find a happy DKos diary with recipes. I'm used to finding them in troll diaries and pie fights.

    "Life is tough. It's even tougher if you're stupid." --John Wayne

    by Sonofasailor on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 07:17:03 AM PDT

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