This recipe was submitted by a reader, Peter Budd, or rather he sent me a pdf booklet of his great-grandmother’s family recipes. I scrolled through it, seeing several options, and then decided that given the season, this one was a good choice. That, and it’s not a flavor combination I would have chosen on my own, but it does work nicely. Or, if you don’t like bananas like the First Reader, it’s a superior firm gingerbread on it’s own.
I did make two small changes to the recipe, one for personal preference, and the other for practical needs. I have been baking for some thirty-odd years, and when I look at a batter that isn’t a batter… well, let’s just say this didn’t look right, so I borrowed from what I know about other cake recipes and adjusted on the fly.
Sarah Benham’s Gingerbread Banana Shortcake
3 tbsps. shortening (I used lard, and melted it. Oil would also work)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 3/4 c flour
1 tsp ginger (we like ginger, I upped this to 2 tsps.)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda (baking soda)
1 tsp baking powder
(Preheat oven to 350. She didn’t say what heat, so I went with middle-of-the-road)
Sift together dry ingredients, mix as for cake (which is why I added 1/2 cup milk as I was mixing and not getting all the dry into the wet). Bake in pan where dough will be about 2 in thick (she doesn’t say when baked, or before. I used two 8″ round cake pans, split the batter, and smoothed it out for even rising). Bake for 25-30 minutes (I may have the heat wrong. Mine only took about 15 minutes before a toothpick came out clean). While slightly warm cover each layer with sliced bananas and whipped cream.
This came out very well. The cake was a little dry, very firm, but for the purpose that was a good thing. The flavor is great, rich and gingery the way we like it. The First Reader eschewed the bananas, and had a wedge with just whipped cream, which he said was perfect. I liked the way the bananas tasted with the cream and cake – it might not have occurred to me to put them together, but they do work very well in conjunction with one another.