Mom's Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
This old fashioned standard has all the flavor you'd expect to find in a quick bread but is just as tender and satisfying as the best layer cakes. My mom's original recipe was written for two nine inch rounds but she always made it in a 9x13 baking dish. It may have been a little more casual that way but no less tasty. I've convinced myself it actually tastes better that way.
Most cakes begin by creaming butter and sugar together, then adding a flour-based mixture (including baking powder and/or soda) then milk and bananas. Instead, this one uses a combination of vegetable shortening and evaporated milk soured by white vinegar. It does not start with the usual creaming process either. It truly baffles and delights me since the technique is so unusual, but the end result is really fantastic! So tender, light and (dare I write it)... moist! Plus, with four bananas, it's really packed with an unmistakable flavor. Slathered with a luxurious but classic cream cheese frosting... this dessert doesn't need any frills delivered by decorations or piping bags; the taste really speaks for itself.
It transports me back to my childhood; simpler times and peaceful moments. I love sharing that with my own family now that I'm older. We create memories by standing side-by-side in the kitchen. I love teaching them how to mash bananas and carefully crack eggs. I instill my secrets for success by whispering in their ears: "Don't be afraid of using too much vanilla" and "Nutmeg is always my secret ingredient!" Enjoying the cake at the end of a comforting meal is just a bonus.
- 2 1/4 cups AP flour
- 1 2/3 cups of granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 (5 ounce) can of evaporated milk
- 4 teaspoons white vinegar
- 2/3 cups shortening
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups (about 4) mashed ripe bananas
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups of confectioner sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or half-and-half, as needed
- 2 tablespoons toasted nuts, chopped (optional)
Read the oven to 350°. Grease and flour or use parchment on either two 9-inch round cake pans or one 9 x 13 pan. In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix together the first five ingredients. In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the milk and vinegar. Set aside for five minutes until it starts to curdle and thicken. While on low speed, add the liquid to the dry ingredients, alternately with the shortening and mashed bananas. Increase to medium and beat for two minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time. Beat for two minutes after. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the round cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool completely on the rack before frosting and stacking. (If you use the 9 x 13 pan, just leave the cake to cool completely in the pan before frosting the top. Cut into 24 squares and dig in!)
This cake is delicious at room temperature, but is equally amazing right out of the refrigerator. (I like to enjoy it this way with steaming cup of tea.) Just cover the pan with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy, about two minutes. Turn off the mixer and add the confectioner's sugar 1 cup at a time, turning the speed on to low until it is completely incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk (if needed) until you have the desired consistency. Spread the frosting onto the cooled cakes, sprinkle with nuts if desired.