Banana Bread and Mayonnaise Cake Recipes

There’s been considerable interest in the recipes I wrote about yesterday, so in the spirit of the holidays (and so you don’t have to look them up on Google and wonder which one) I’ll write them out. It’s not like they’re family secrets. Sorry there’s no photos – we tend to eat them (the goodies not the photos) too fast to remember to take pictures.

Mayonnaise Cake

3 cups flour

1 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use the mayo made with olive oil, and no, salad dressing won’t work)

1 1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cocoa

3 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

I mix the water and mayo together first and then just dump things in and whir them around. I have one of those big stand mixers so it’s easy to set it going and go get other ingredients. It’s a pretty forgiving cake. The salt and baking soda I add with the flour. After it’s thoroughly mixed (and tasted, nothing like chocolate cake batter) pour it into two 9″ greased and floured round pans if you want a layer cake or one 13 x 9 inch (greased and floured) which is what I always use.

Bake at 350 degrees for roughly 30-35 minutes. I always stick a toothpick in the middle to test for done-ness and if it comes out gooey, leave it in a few more minutes but not too long as you’ll want the cake to remain moist.

I’ve made various icings for it from chocolate to mocha, but our favorite is a creamy lemon made with whipped cream cheese and confectioners sugar and squirts of fresh lemon juice until it tastes like you want it to. Just make sure to completely cool the cake before you ice it.

Banana Bread (2 loaves)

2 c. sugar

1 cup butter (you can see why I only make this once a year)

4 eggs

4 cups white flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp soda

2 tsp baking powder

6 to 7 fairly ripe bananas (depending on size)

1/2 cup nuts

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, add bananas one at a time, add flour and salt, soda, baking powder, mix well, add nuts and or chocolate chips. I always cheat a little on the chocolate chips because they are soooooo good with the banana flavor but don’t cheat a lot or they will end up heavy and gooey on the bottom rather than mixed in the batter. Sometimes, I toss the chocolate chips lightly in flour to help them stay where they belong.

Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. I use a knife blade to test done-ness in these. If gooey, I let them bake another few minutes but again, you don’t want the loaves to dry out and they’ll continue baking a bit from interior heat after you remove them from the oven.

Okay. Go have fun. Eat lots over the holidays. We’re celebrating, right?

And cheers to all of you. Thank you for being the gift of a loyal reader. You’re the reason I keep doing this because I know you’ll like it and comment (well, I do it for me, too, because sometimes I just need to write something that’s off the cuff and fun and I don’t have to revise and revise and revise and think about…).


It’s That Time of Year

candleOnce a year, the kitchen is full of Mom. This mom, me, and my first mother-in-law, my sons’ grandmother, who originally gave me a banana bread recipe. The year’s perfectly-sized boxes, saved in the basement, are set in one kitchen corner along with the saved box of foam pellets, accumulated over the year, and I pack the banana bread I’ve once more made for the men in my life: two sons, two husbands (one of which I’m no longer married to), a grown grandson, and our mail carrier.

My kitchen rejoices.

The recipe, hand-written on some piece of paper I scribbled out more than forty years ago, lies folded in thirds in the back of my battered Joy of Cooking cookbook. I smooth it out, check the ingredients. They never change. The paper is stained and spotted, but the handwriting is mine, hurriedly written from one corner to another above a left-over drawing by one kid or another.

Perhaps I expected to transfer it to a proper card or something, but now, each year, I refold and replace once the baking is over: six bananas, butter, white sugar, leavenings, chocolate chips, nuts. Each batch makes two loaves. Except, for more than forty years, I have separated the batter after adding chocolate chips. I pour half the batter in a bread pan, and add nuts to what’s left in the bowl before dumping it in the pan. One son does not like nuts in his banana bread, the other son doesn’t care. If I make chocolate chip cookies, I do the same: half the batter without nuts.

I also make, and pack, the same oatmeal cookies, from the same cookbook, with chocolate chips, no nuts, seal them in plastic bags, and add them to the boxes that are mailed. The ones that aren’t mailed, the ones that stay here in the house, don’t last long. Which is probably a good thing.

Mary, my first mother-in-law, died twenty-five years ago, but she lives with me still in the kitchen at Christmas and in the chocolate mayonnaise birthday cakes which I make and which never change although they are only made for whoever is in the house at the birthday time. Mayonnaise cake, moist and fragrant, does not mail well. That recipe is also in my writing, quickly sketching down the direction as my mother-in-law dictated the ingredients.

One box goes to Florida, one to San Diego, the mailman gets his bread in hand, and the men here in the house have theirs.

And as I bake, I remember other times and other seasons. Mother-in-law Mary made banana bread when her boys came home; I usually limit mine to once a year: white flour and white sugar and chocolate chips are not our usual fare. But these are gifts of love, gifts of memory, gifts of tradition.

The mailman tells me his mother-in-law, no longer living, used to bake like this. His eyes shine as he takes my proffered loaf.