I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household surrounded by wonderful cooks. Just give my grandmother some salt, pepper, onions, garlic, parsley, thyme and apple cider vinegar and she would make a grown man cry. My mom enjoyed trying out new dishes and constantly took cooking classes to improve her skills. Whenever members of our extensive family got married, my mother not only baked the wedding cake, but she also designed and sewed the wedding dresses! I think she got a kick out of camouflaging ingredients we kids hated into concoctions of delight and successfully getting us to eat them.
So it isn’t lightly that I say, by far, the best and fastest cook in the family was and is Aunt Gladys. She is not only a great cook but she also loves paying attention to the little details, like actually peeling the skin off a bunch of grapes. Because of her speed, the joke in the family was, ‘don’t look while Gladys cooks, just eat it and you’ll be happy.” Like most of the women of the older generation in the family, Aunt Gladys hardly cooked with a recipe so, it wasn’t that easy putting this recipe together. What I am actually giving you, is a variation of her banana cake because I know a few of the ingredients will crop up the next time I speak to her.
This recipe is a little on the dry side and can be moistened by sprinkling some rum once the cake has cooled down. You can also add milk to this recipe, but I have not tested it out yet.
Aunt Gladys’ Banana Cake
1/2 lb. butter
3/4 cup sugar (set aside 2 Tbsp)
1/8 tsp salt
4 large very ripe bananas mashed
3 large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dark rum
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnut pieces
2 cups flour
5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Zest of 1 small lime or lemon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Butter and flour 2 loaf pans or 12 cup cake pans.
- Measure out the ingredients.
- Sift flour with baking powder and nutmeg. Sift mixture 2 more times to insure even distribution of ingredients.
- In medium saucepan, combine raisins with rum and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow raisins to cool down in rum. Place a strainer over a small bowl and pour rum and raisins through strainer. Keep raisins in strainer over bowl until ready to use. Reserve the remaining rum for a sauce or to soak cooled cake.
- Whip egg whites till foamy. Slowly add 1/4 sugar and keep whipping till stiff (not dry) peaks forms. Set aside.
- Beat butter with sugar and salt till creamy and light in color.
- Mix the mashed bananas, egg yolks, vanilla extract and 1 tsp of reserved rum into batter and continue beating till well incorporated.
- Mix in cooled raisins and walnut pieces.
- Add flour into mixture one third at a time until just incorporated.
- Gently fold egg whites into batter until combined.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let stand in pan for 10 min.
- Run a knife around the edges of the pan and reverse on a cooling rack.
- Allow cake to cool for about one hour.