You are here

My Go-to Cake for the Holidays

+ enlarge

Though cooking isn’t really my thing, I’ve found one can get by as long as she has a few really wonderful go-to recipes. I’ve got the perfect dish to take to families who have new babies or are dealing with some hardship, a great cookie recipe, and two good dinner party menus.

When the holidays roll around, I know I’ll be pulling out my go-to cake recipe. I used to work as a business reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and one of my colleagues baked cakes for everyone’s birthdays. Donna is more than a great cook; she is truly gifted. Her cakes were usually gone before lunch.

From the first bite of this banana cake, I was sold. Donna was generous enough to share her recipe (my go-to cookies are also from her) and while I can’t claim that my cakes are ever quite as delicious or as beautiful as hers, even my version is darn good. I’ve already told my sister-in-law—who is hosting Thanksgiving this year—that I’ll bring the cake.

Donna’s Banana Cake


One stick sweet butter

1 cup sugar

Three eggs, separated

1 cup mashed bananas

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Two medium bananas, sliced

2 cups shelled chopped walnuts

Cream cheese frosting (see below)


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two nine-inch baking pans.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg yolks and beat well. Add mashed bananas and mix well.
  3. Sift dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Stir until just combined in. Add buttermilk and vanilla. Beat egg whites to soft peaks and gently fold into batter.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pans. Set on the middle rack and back for 25–30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  5. Cool in pans on a rack for ten minutes. Unmold and cool on rack for two hours.
  6. When cooled, place one layer on a serving plate and frost with cream-cheese frosting. Arrange slices of bananas over frosting; cover with second layer and frost top and sides of cake.
  7. Cover sides of cake with chopped nuts, holding nuts in palm and pressing firmly to sides of cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature

6 tablespoons sweet butter, room temperature

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Juice of half of a lemon

Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Sift in confectioner’s sugar and beat until there are no lumps. Stir in vanilla and lemon juice.

Photo courtesy of Ulterior Epicure


Loading comments...