We have two bananas just starting to go brown, so I want to make a banana cake. My mom located her old recipe, which is a bit vague. Recipe first, story after:
Banana Cake (Mamie)
1/2 cup butter (or Crisco)
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup mashed bananas
4 teaspoons sour milk (or more)*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt if not using butter
350 degrees (Fahrenheit)
And...that's it. The assumption is that the cake is baked for 35-40 minutes. My mom remembers using vanilla icing, but I remember the icing being a grayish-buff color that matched the cake and might have been made with some mashed bananas. The store-bought banana cakes she has come to love are made with cream cheese icing, so I might try that.**
Mamie was my Cioci Mamie, my grandfather's sister Marie. She was born in 1900 and lived to be 91. She was a spinster great-aunt. She was always old, as long as I can remember, and would have been about 70 when I first took note of her. She was a bit off, loved to drink, and was very generous. Part of our weekend ritual was that after getting up on Sunday, going to church, having a family breakfast of Polish sausage with my aunts and uncles and cousins, and making a visit to the cemetery, my family would come home to settle in for an afternoon meal that my mom had cooked before we went to church. Afterwards, not every Sunday but many of them, Cioci Mamie would stop over with her shopping bags in hand. She wasn't a "bag lady": she was bringing over bags of candy that she had bought for us "kidsies" (and for my cousins, who lived in two houses next to each other a block away.) She would walk over a mile and a half from the hilly part of town where she lived, and then walk back, unless my uncle gave her a ride home. Our chihuahua Chico loved her, and would bark and jump up and down while she sat in a rocking chair until she petted him on the head and called him "nutzie koo-koo" and let him shower her with kisses. She would tell us stories, gossip about her friends, tell us about her latest bus trip to a shrine in Canada. (She was probably the most well-traveled of my entire family.) Other than these visits, I would see her at holiday dinners, weddings, funerals, and on an occasional visit to her house. (She lived about two blocks from my grandmother. One of my cousins bought her house after she died, and still lives there.) She took aspirins for her health long before any official declaration of the health benefits came out, but apparently took too many, casing some gastric bleeding. She spent the last year or so of her life in a nursing home down the street from my house. By then I was back from my stint in Delaware, but I didn't yet own a car, so I saw her from time to time. I am told that she cried out "I want more life!" before she died. By any measure she had had a long life, but that might not have been enough.
This is her recipe. Enjoy it, and buy some candy for the kidsies.
|As a much younger woman, probably in the 1920s|
*I suspect this is a typo and should read TABLESPOONS, not teaspoons. When made as directed, the batter was very thick, like a thick cookie dough. I added more soured milk (milk mixed with lemon juice in a 4/1 ratio) to thin it out. The ratio is three teaspoons to a Tablespoon.
**1 box powdered sugar (approx. 4 cups)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
8 oz. cream cheese
Approx. 1 Tablespoon milk, added by drops