Brona’s Banana Cake

Banana Cake - Beth the BakerAbout 15 years ago (maybe less, like I can remember that far back…) my Aunt Laura came to visit and brought a binder for each of us – me, each of my sisters, and my mother and father.  In each binder was some family history.. stories of how my grandparents met (by mail – story later…) some history of our family members along with some copies of old photos (some a little fuzzy..) And my Grandmother’s recipes.  The ones my Aunt had, any way.  When my Grandmother (Bernice in English, Bronislava or Brona in Lithuanian and Polish) had lived in California, my Aunt wrote down as many recipes as she could.

As I’ve said, I’ve decided to recreate my Grandmother’s recipes.  Except the headcheese.  Nobody wants that….

When I made this the first time and tasted it, it tasted “familiar”.  I don’t specifically recall my Grandmother making this, but it just tasted like I had had this before.  The combination of the banana cake and the lemony citrus glaze… something just seemed not only super tasty… but just made me think of my Grandmother… maybe wishful thinking…..

My grandparents - Beth the baker

A bunch of relatives I don’t remember.. my sister Barb with my Grandmother Bernice, and me with my Grandfather John at their home in Hamilton.  About 1967ish..

I have now made this recipe a couple of times recently.  Once, by my Grandmother’s exact recipe (I’ve expounded on the directions a bit… they were a bit vague..) and the second time I decided to try to make a vegan version as my sister’s birthday is coming up and I thought this might make a nice birthday cake!

I made the vegan version I devised (vegan substitutions in brackets) and took a few pieces for some friends to try.  All thought it was delicious (that said, isn’t all free surprise cake delicious?) and they didn’t know until I told them that it was vegan.  And they still loved it after I told them…


  • 1/2 Cup Butter (or substitute margarine)
  • 3 egg yolks* (see my egg substitution note)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream (I used coconut milk for the vegan version)
  • 2 egg whites well beaten to soft peak* (see egg substitution note)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups flour
  • 2 well mashed bananas (adding up to a cup of mashed bananas, so maybe 3 depending on size)
  • pinch of baking soda added to bananas
  • 2 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts (optional – I didn’t add)

Melt butter and add to sugar.  Beat egg yolks separately and then add to sugar mixture.  Mix dry ingredients then add liquid mixture.  Add egg  whites and nuts last – do not over mix.  Pour into well oiled and floured 8×8 pan.  Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes or until skewer in centre comes out clean


  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon and orange to taste (I’m going to try lime next time!)
  • 2 tsp butter (or margarine)
  • 1 cup icing sugar

I had to play with this a bit until I got the right proportions – not too sweet, etc.  I tried this with just the sugar and juice … not so much. A little flavourless.  What I finally ended up with is… mix the butter or margarine with the icing sugar – cream together.  Then add juice of lemon and rind …. adding the juice a bit at a time until you reach the consistency and taste you want.  I wanted more of a glaze rather than an icing, so I made it on the liquid side.  I added LOTS of zest as it really packs flavour – I wanted a “tart” glaze to offset the cake’s sweetness.


I wanted to make a vegan version .. I thought it would be nice to make this for my sister’s and my daughter’s birthday, considering it’s a family recipe… so I changed the butter to margarine, the milk to coconut milk ….and the eggs… I used some egg substitutions… I tried the flax seed option out of curiosity (and I have a lot of flax seed)..  1 tablespoon of flax seed (ground in coffee grinder) with 3 tbsp water (until they look kind of gelatinous).  I used 2 parts of the flax substitution with….

Another… 2 tbsp water, one teaspoon of corn or vegetable oil and 2 tsp baking powder.

Oh, and I just added the egg substitutes in when adding to dry mixture… no separation required…

The results worked out well!  The flax added a nutty taste and the additional baking powder helped with texture I think.  Subbing banana would also work I think.  Long story short…. tasty!  I call it a win.  Hopefully my vegan sister enjoys (and everyone else…)

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