Grandma’s Banana Cake

Today is my Grandma’s birthday. If she were still alive, she would be turning 89. But my grandma died 14 years ago on Valentine’s Day… 3 days before her 75th birthday. When I called my grandpa today, he reminded me of this (he’s a numbers guy) and joked that if my grandma hadn’t had a birthday, they probably never would have gotten married. So yes, today was an important day, after all. Even at the ripe old age of 94, my grandpa is witty.

He still lives on his own, in the house my mom grew up in, and still does everything from raking his leaves to shoveling his driveway. He makes his own meals, does his own shopping, and cleans his own house. In fact, he has cleaned out a lot from his house (like the beautiful plates & mugs in the pictures) and much of what remains is memorabilia. My grandpa loves to tell the stories of his life, and always has a bit of memorabilia to share. Like these, my grandma’s diaries.

To be fair, they are not so much diaries as records of day-to-day events…and I have enjoyed looking through them to get a glimpse into my grandma’s life as a young mom. April 9, 1954: “Clarence took us to Sears. Bought Patrick a brown suit with houndstooth fronts.”  June 29, 2953: “Washed today. Had almost two weeks wash.” December 13, 1953: “Baby had a fever of 102.”

And then there was my favorite: February 17, 1954: “My birthday. Baked a banana cake. Clarence went to play cards at Cudworth Legion Post with Ferd.” Typical. I’ll make myself a birthday cake, you go play cards. Some things never change.  :)

Well, Grandma… today I wanted to bake a cake for you. To let you know you are loved, and missed. To say that I’m sorry you never got to meet my children. To remember how sudden, and how sad, it was when you left this world. To celebrate your life – a life well lived.

The other thing my grandpa told me when I talked to him today is that all 5 of his children had called in honor of their mom’s birthday. He joked (again) that he wasn’t sure such thoughtful children could really be his. All I said was, “I guess Grandma did something right.” :)

Grandma's Banana Cake
  • 2⅝ c flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1⅛ tsp. salt
  • 2 c sugar
  • ¾ c shortening (I used softened butter)
  • ¾ c sour milk
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla
  • 1½ c ripe mashed bananas
  • ¾ c chopped nuts
  • 3 eggs
  1. Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Stir shortening or butter to soften.
  3. Add ⅜ c milk, half of dry ingredients, and bananas. Mix 2 minutes at low speed.
  4. Add eggs, nuts, and remaining milk and flour. Mix 1 minute at low speed.
  5. Pour into greased 9x13 inch pan.
  6. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
  7. Serve with whipped cream.
Looking for another delicious dessert recipe? Check out my Spiced Pumpkin Cookie Cups!


  1. says

    Cathy, you made me cry. I love the fact that you made a banana cake for your grandma (my mom) and that you served it on dishes that belonged to her. This cake was one of our favorites when my brothers and sisters and I were growing up.
    Love you, Mom. I know that you are watching over us. You would have enjoyed meeting your great-grandchildren. Nine already and more on the way. You would have been so busy knitting and crocheting little things for them.

      • says

        Cathy, This is a pretty good agloany and I do think the blog definitions will vary (formulating a blog post of my own, hmm). I think the Comments are the big difference for me. Unlike static stories, blog posts are dynamic because of comments. They spark discussion, debate, and sometimes, distribution when people share or link back to content. There’s much more give and take between writer and reader. FWIW.

  2. Anonymous says

    I love this! I’ll make sure Cyndi has the recipe and see if Amy wants to adapt it to make it vegan. I love that Dad thinks all his kids are thoughtful. I think the grandchildren and greatgrandchildren seem to be on that path as well. Love you Cathy. Beth

    • says

      Thanks, Aunt Beth! Isn’t it sweet that Grandpa commented on all the phone calls…? He was clearly very moved by the support. Thanks for taking the time to read and share – the cake is so good!!

  3. Anonymous says

    I feel honored to have been able to taste this masterpiece of a cake that you made. It is absolutely delicious! After reading today’s post, I think I know where your baking gift comes from.
    Thanks-to you and your Grandmother-for the wonderful treat.

  4. says

    hi cathy… i really enjoyed reading this post about your grandma… what a treasure to have her journals and dishes… the banana cake looks delicious… i’m going to give the recipe a try!

  5. says

    Don’t you just adore family recipes?! We have been working with my grandma (87 this year!) to write down all the recipes she keeps in her head so we can continue to make them as the years pass.

    This cake looks so delicious!

  6. says

    Thank you so much for sharing. My Grandma passed away about 1.5 years ago and the wonderful age of 91. I have been baking up some of her recipes lately. It is fun and full of memories. It helps me feel closer to her.
    I’m pinning this to make with my next batch of really ripe bananas. It looks delish.
    Take care,

  7. says

    Ohh this is such a sweet post! You are so lucky to have ‘something’ to remember of your grandma. Love that diary she wrote. What a treasure ! I would love to try this recipe in the future as banana cake is one of my favorite and I am sure your grandma’s banana cake is to dye for! Thanks for sharing!

    I am now following you through FB and I found you through Kathryn’s party.

  8. says

    I love your recipes! This looks really good! It is always nice to bake something that was a relative’s recipe…for me in someway when I bake a recipe that was handed down to me and I am reading it in their handwriting, it always makes me feel closer to them. Have a wonderful week:)

  9. says

    wow! I love that you have your grandmas journal… an amazing legacy… :o) If my granddaughter ever tries to read my planner no one will be able to decipher the scratches :o) Thanks for linking up to Tasteful Tuesdays @ Nap-Time Creations. So glad you stopped by! Emily

  10. says

    This is such a beautiful post. And you have such a treasure–your grandma’s journals as well as her cake, which looks absolutely moist and wonderful. Thank you for sharing this cake and your memories at See Ya in the Gumbo this week. It’s nice to have you join in.

  11. Anonymous says

    Great post, lovely story! I was wondering if omitting the nuts in the recipe would change the time needed for baking, thanks.


  12. says

    What a sweet and special post, Cathy! Your Grandma’s cake recipe looks amazing and it warmed my heart hearing about you reading and enjoying her precious diary entries. <3 We lost my Grandma about four years ago and my Grandpa lived in the home they bought as newlyweds until he passed away in August. The home they raised my dad in, and that I cherish so many memories made inside of, is right next door to my house. Hearing your story touched my heart so. I don't mean to sound overly sappy (although I am a sap!), but I can't resist saying enjoy each priceless moment you have with your Grandpa as he tells those stories of the "old days". So very special! And, there's nothing quite like a tried and true recipe from your Grandma's kitchen ... Thanks for sharing!


  13. says

    What a beautiful post and such a tribute to both you grandparents! It’s so special to be able to read through those diary entries. And the banana cake looks delicious! I am sure your grandma is so proud as she looks down on you :)

  14. says

    I LOVE banana baked everything… I’m sure it’s amazing! I’m so glad you came to share at Super Saturday Show & Tell… come back again next week to party with me again :) xoxo~ Ruthie

  15. says

    This looks so delicious. Thanks for sharing it on Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop. Love the sweet story behind it. My grandmother’s birthday is Feb. 22. She would be over 100 now (I lose track). She passed away in the early ’80s but I always remember her birthday. Miss her.

    Hope to see you at next week’s hop!
    Sinea from Ducks ‘n a Row

  16. Joann says

    This cake looks delicious and I’m sure it taste delicious too, But I’m sure it doesn’t taste as good as when Grandma made it, it’s just something they do to make it taste so much better :). But that said I do have a question, when you say sour milk, what do you mean, like “buttermilk or letting milk just sour on it’s own? Thanks so much for this recipe :). I have some of my Grandma’s things too after she passed away :( miss her so much too :( .

  17. says

    I love how you are keeping your Grandmother’s memory alive. I have one of my Grandmother’s recipe books. I love seeing her handwritten recipes. This cake looks like a great use for the overripe bananas I often have in my kitchen. I like that you replaced the shortening butter. Thanks for the recipe! Pinning it!

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