Banana Breakfast Coffee Cake

About two years ago my mom sat with her mom, and went through her most-used cookbook page by page. They chatted over each recipe – even the hand written ones and the ones that my grandma had clipped from magazines and newspapers and stuffed inside the cover over the years.

Grandma talked about each recipe she remembered, and Mom made notes on  Post-It’s.  The book is filled now, with little quotes from Grandma like:

“She had a good one there!” on her sister’s chocolate cake recipe and,

“No one could do punch better than her!” on her friend’s tropical punch recipe that’s etched out in Grandma’s precise writing and,

“This one’s a goodie!” about chocolate drop cookies and,

“I’d never make these again!”, about some candy cane Christmas cookies.

Then my mom photocopied each page – all 400 of them, and added in photographs of Grandma young and old, and my mom and her siblings growing up, and my sisters and I with Grandma, and then Grandma with our kids. Many of the pictures are of some or all of us making doughnuts with her – because that was Grandma’s tradition – making doughnuts every winter. Those are some of my most cherished memories ever.

I spent Sunday morning poring over this book with puffy, teary eyes. . . .

Grandma had passed away peacefully on Friday, surrounded by family.

And even though we all knew it was coming and our brains can tell us it all makes sense, our hearts miss her, and I wish I could hug her tiny shoulders again, or kiss her smooth little grandma cheek one more time. I wish I had just one more chance to tell her I love her and say it with such heart that she can feel how much I mean it.

So in my emotional mish-mash of love and sadness and relief for Grandma, of course I would turn to food.

I don’t know why I have this connection in my brain that all things monumental are somehow connected with food.

I guess because it comforts me.

I paged through Grandma’s book for something that made sense for a Sunday breakfast and that I would be able to share here.

I make a few things of hers over and over again – one of those is her banana bread – but that’s a closely guarded secret, another is a cookie recipe, another is her doughnuts – pretty sure that one is a secret too.

I found a couple of options, but we had several over-ripe bananas on our countertop, so I honed in on this recipe.

The ironic thing is that it doesn’t even have any comments on it – but the page does have pictures of Grandma and Grandpa holding my oldest boy in their laps at Christmas time when he was just a baby in a blue footed onesie and a Santa cap. That’s good enough for me.

It’s a coffee cake. It’s portable. It’s not too sweet, or too unsweet. It’s covered in a nice, buttery, crumb-nut topping.

Grandma clipped the recipe from somewhere – I’m not sure where. But she was a recipe collector too.

And she had a talented knack for picking the “goodies”.


Banana Breakfast Coffee Cake

1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1/2 cup 2% low-fat milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
For the topping, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter in a food processor and process until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in walnuts. (I didn’t break out the food processor for this, I just worked the butter in with my fingers to the same crumb-like texture).
Set aside.
For the cake, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl.
Beat butter with a mixer at medium speed about 30 seconds or until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat 3 to 4 minutes or until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla and bananas and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, mixing after each addition only until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle with topping.
Bake about 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 10 – 16, depending on how you decide to slice it.

Source: I wish I had the true source of this – it’s not my intention to skip proper credit. It’s a clipping from somewhere. If anyone knows, please comment and I will post it here. It looks like it may be from the back of a box or bag, and it has to be fairly recent because there is nutrition info printed at the bottom of the recipe. When did that start?

Speaking of that, here it is:

Nutrition Info per serving (10 slice size):
370 calories, 20g fat, 4g prot, 48g carbs, 1g fiber, 300 mg sodium

33 thoughts on “Banana Breakfast Coffee Cake

  1. What a wise and insightful woman your mother is to have done that with your grandma’s recipes! I’m so sorry for your loss, but what a precious gift you have to remember her by. I inherited my grandma’s big yellow Pyrex mixing bowl that she mixed up biscuits in every single morning and it means the world to me. Hope you share more of your Grandma’s recipes with us.

    • Thanks Phyllis. You’re right – the book is so special. And I do have a couple very special things of my grandma’s that she passed on to me – like her mixer. I think of her every time I bake anything! It’s nice to have things like that in our lives, isn’t it?

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. See? My grandma made her way into your kitchen too. 😉
      That makes me very happy! Thanks for letting me know!

      • I have to say, this truly touches my heart that your grandmother’s legacy is living on so quickly through food.

        Food nourishes our hearts and souls….which is what makes this post, and your blog, perfection.

  2. So very sorry to hear the news about your Grandma. We lost my mother-in-law in November – very sad for us but we are thankful for the memories we each have. I have been sorting through her things but have not taken the step of going through her enormous collection of cookbooks and recipes yet. I wish one of us had thought to go through them with her like your mom did with your Grandma but I’m hoping I’ll find some notes mixed in.

    • I bet you’ll find something. Someone who has so many cookbooks must have loved to be in the kitchen! I’m sorry for your loss as well – thank you for sharing.

  3. Such a lovely looking cake, and a lovely story too. I think a lot of memories are linked to food and I find it very comforting to try recipes from my grandparents and enjoy the memories that are attached x

  4. This recipe sounds lovely, just like your grandmother. Do you use a 9″ square or a 9 x 13 pan for the best results?

  5. This Cake looks wonderful. I am looking for a recipe for Easter, and I have bananas that will be ripe by then! One question, you said to use a 9 inch pan. Is that a round, or a 9 inch square?

  6. I had a bunch of soft bananas staring at me and its the end of the school year and my kids are tired of banana muffins and I came across your recipe. Simple and quick to make, the only change I made was I used a powdered egg replacer as my son is anaphylactic to eggs. It came out perfect, you would never know there was no egg in it. It was super yummy moist and not too sweet. Just right. Ill def share this one on my Facebook page.

  7. What a great tribute. Unfortunately I should have read the comments before I stuck mine I the oven! I used a 9″ round….taking forever to bake!?! Hopefully it’s edible when fully cooked. 2 8″ rounds would’ve been so much better!

  8. I used a 9-inch square pan. It’s been cooking 50 minutes and it’s still not done. Maybe this should have read 9×13 pan? I interpret 9-inch-pan as 9×9. It’s puffed way up high and just not getting done in the center. Smells wonderful, though.

    • Hi there! The only think I can think of is that maybe the type of pan you are using is affecting the cooking time. If you are using a glass pan it will take longer, if you use a light colored aluminum pan it will bake sooner and more evenly. I don’t know. . . maybe it’s that? I think other commenters have responded regarding the bake time too – that it took longer than stated. Hope it all worked out ok!

  9. made this cake todayexactly as written….absolutely delicious! Taking to my church group tomorrow & I’m sure they will love it as I did. Took a little longer than stated but ovens vary. Thank you for sharing. Grandma picked a good one . May she rest in peace.

  10. I would love to make something like this for my kids before they go to school. I wonder if you could mix it at night and bake in the morning? With four children aged 13 months to 13 years and leaving for school at 6:50am, I doubt I’d have time. I’ll have to try on the weekend!

    • Oh! You sound like me! I have 4, ranging from 5 years – 18 years!
      I don’t think this would be great to mix before bed – not totally, anyway. You could mix the dry ingredients and get those ready, then mix the wet ones and keep them in the fridge overnight, then combine the two in the morning. That would probably work. But I think if you mix the baking soda with the wet stuff too soon, it will lose all it’s leavening power as it sits overnight. Great idea though – makes me want to try it too! Also, this might not be the best recipe for a school morning because it takes so long to bake. Maybe split it between two loaf pans, or even try these because muffins bake up so much faster. Good luck!!

  11. Oh, wow! Condolences for you & fam regarding the loss of your grandmother. My most precious memories are my grandmother and I (since I was 3 yrs) cooking, baking, experimenting in the kitchen (laughing at flops). She passed when I was 42 (17 yrs ago), but I still feel her presence when I’m in the kitchen. I think my grandaughter & I will try this recipe when she visits tomorrow. MEMORIES!!

  12. This is a delicious coffee cake. I baked mine in a tube pan and it turned out beautiful. Thank you for sharing your lovely story and this great recipe. Grammies are the best.

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