Banana bread recipe almost as old as Canada


Banana cake, banana bread, banana loaf — whatever you call it, a good banana bread recipe is a staple in many Canadian kitchens. And, some of the best recipes have been handed down from generation to generation.

Wendy Birkhan’s recipe for banana cake has been in her family since the early 1900s.

Birkhan recently submitted her recipe to the Ottawa Public Library for a new Canada 150 project.

To celebrate the sesquicentennial, the library is whipping up a community cookbook of 150 family recipes. The library is asking people to submit an original family recipe. And the library also wants a little story about why the dish is special.

Here is Birkhan’s recipe.

Granny’s Banana Cake 

  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature.
  • 1 cup sugar.
  • 2 eggs at room temperature.
  • 2 to 4 bananas (depending on the size).
  • 1 tsp vanilla.
  • 4 tbsp sour cream.
  • 1 3/4 cups flour.
  • 2 tsp baking powder.
  • 1 tsp baking soda.
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/4 tsp).


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl mix together 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup sugar. Add 2 beaten eggs and mix until creamy.
  3. Add 1 cup or so of mashed bananas, vanilla and 4 tablespoons sour cream. Mix.
  4. In 1 3/4 cup flour add 2 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp baking soda and a pinch of salt. 
  5. Mix with other mixture until there are no lumps. 
  6. Bake in 8-inch greased tin for about an hour depending on your oven.


  • Brown sugar can be substituted for white sugar.
  • If bananas are really sweet, lower the sugar amount.
  • If using whole wheat flour use just over 1.5 cups.
  • Sour cream can be substituted with any yogurt.
  • Vanilla can be any essence. Orange peel also works.
  • Add a couple tablespoons of cocoa (reduce flour) to make chocolate version.
  • Just before pouring into tin, gently stir in raisins, walnuts or chocolate chips.
  • Dairy Free: substitute margarine and use 1/4 cup water or alternative (such as soy based) instead of sour cream.
  • Butter can be reduced to 1/4 cup and add 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce for lower fat content.

Vanilla icing   

  • 1/3 cup soft butter or margarine.
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar or icing sugar.
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Add milk one teaspoon at a time until smooth. Mix together until consistent.

Banana Icing

  • 4 tbsp of butter.
  • 1/2 cup mashed bananas.
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice.
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar or icing sugar.

Add milk one teaspoon at a time until smooth. Mix together until consistent.