Banana cake

I have had this recipe since I was 7 or 8 years old. I must have been in second or third grade; a friend in my class brought a banana cake to school to celebrate his birthday and offered photocopies of the recipe. I kept the photocopy, and it appears that I have collected recipes ever since. Not obsessively or excessively, but, every once in a while, I wrote down a recipe I liked.

Some years ago I copied these recipes into an orange, cloth-bound dummy book (a sample with blank pages) on the architect R.M. Schindler that I was editing at the time. The recipes compiled in the “Schindler book” (as I now very personally refer to it) are not anonymous, they are not newspaper clippings I fell across and found enticing – they are all linked to memories, and people.

This banana cake reminds me of my first school in France, of Jacob (my school friend) and his family with whom we have not completely lost touch; it evokes their music and a lemon tree in their San Francisco garden that I have seen only in photographs.

Also, it is a very good banana cake. I resisted tweaking the recipe except for the walnuts, as I seem unable to refrain from putting nuts in a cake.


10 Tbsps (125 g) butter

3/4 cup (150 g) brown sugar

3 eggs

3 very ripe bananas

1 lemon or orange

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups (200 g) flour (half whole wheat)

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 cup (100 g) shelled walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating with a wire whisk to incorporate until smooth.

Mash the bananas well with a fork and add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.

Grate the zest and juice the lemon (or orange) and add to the batter with the vanilla extract. Mix well.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to batter. Stir just enough to blend everything together. Gently stir in the walnuts, if using.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper, butter the paper, and pour in the batter.

Slide into the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out dry. (If, like me, you like the cake to be very moist, take it out of the oven a little sooner, when the tip of the knife is still wet.)

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12 Responses to “Banana cake”

  1. thomas Says:

    IT LOOKS SO NICE! and the recipe book you wrote is so quaint lovely !!!

  2. Rufus' Food and Spirit Guide Says:

    A classic. I love how long you kept the recipe.

  3. thewonderingchef Says:

    You just gave me a good idea…. I miss banana cakes/breads so much, where I live now, it`s not really common, and its been years since I had one. I guess I bake one for myslef tomorrow, luckily i just bought bananas:)

  4. katshealthcorner Says:

    YAY for Banana Cake!!! It sounds absolutely delightful! What a nice recipe! No wonder it is a classic! :)


  5. rsmacaalay Says:

    I love classic recipes like this!

  6. Valerie Weigand McCaffrey Says:

    I’ll make the cake this week-end adding a little flax seed and hi maize flour as my DH is recovering from heart surgery and I need a cake that is healthy. This one wins!

  7. Sunny Says:

    Can’t you imagine a slice toasted with a little peanut butter or cream cheese smeared on top… heaven.

    • valerie Says:

      Thank you for your comment. This cake is so rich and flavorful in itself, I think it requires nothing more.

  8. Sydney Jones Says:

    I love the pictorial recipe! I used to make them but my pictures were not near as good! This was a great read, thanks, put a smile on my face :)

    • valerie Says:

      Thank you! I don’t make pictorial recipes myself but I love those drawing – that’s certainly one of the reasons I’ve kept this recipe all these years.

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