Patrushka cake variation: banana walnut

summary: banana walnut cake with cream cheese icing; variation on Patrushka Cake; origins of the name “Patrushka Cake”; I love the internet!

According to some sources, [the cake is] also known as Patrushka cake, which offers more than a hint of Eastern European origins. – Blair K, Slovenian Roots Quest, June 2015

Should I burst Blair’s bubble? Do the K’s need to know why it’s really called Patrushka Cake and that its origins are half way around the world from Eastern Europe? :-) :-)

banana walnut Patrushka cake

Our vegetable/fruit store has a shelf near the cash register with baskets of various things they want to sell off. Each basket costs $1.

We often get the tomatoes they sell – there is nothing wrong with the tomatoes except that some of them may have a few bruises. They make fantastic tomato sauce.

One day, a while back in the early spring, there was a basket of bananas. They were just starting to ripen but had a few bruises. Of course we bought the basket. Who wouldn’t? It was $1 for around a dozen bananas. Organic bananas!

T decided to make cake, but because eggs were at a premium (our friends’ chickens were on strike because spring wasn’t springing), he used the mashed bananas and chopped walnuts to Patrushka Cake, because the recipe doesn’t call for any eggs.

And the icing? Chocolate cream cheese, of course! But with a little less chocolate that usual, so the walnut and banana flavours wouldn’t get lost.

The cake was delicious with a spoonful of T’s excellent plain yoghurt on the side!

Hmmm… But now I wonder. Can we really call this Patrushka Cake if it has bananas in it? P loathes bananas! (Why? Read here.)

We still had a LOT of bananas left after T made the cake. I would have made banana muffins but there was no room in the freezer. There was no way we wanted to eat them as they were; they were starting to go quite brown, even where they weren’t bruised.

So we threw them into the backyard composter.

The next day, as I was heading to the garage, I saw that the composter lid had been pulled off. Those raccoons are clever…. As I put the lid back on, I saw that there were zero bananas left in the composter. Not even peels!

Obviously, the raccoons haven’t been scarred by reading “Hawaii” by James Michener.

And. Do you think the raccoons really had a party and after gorging on organic bananas, they smoked the peels?

banana walnut Patrushka cake

This eggless cake is a variation of Patrushka Cake (recipe from my sister P’s Godmother). However, I have heard that it is sometimes called one pan or wacky cake because it has no eggs and does not require a greased pan: it can be made in the pan it will be cooked in.
– me, recipes from OUR kitchen | White Cake, (archived in 2000)
I found this recipe on the net and what a find it was! This is an excellent cake with all the attributes of a wacky cake plus new attributes of its own. Like all wacky cakes, it can be made in the ungreased pan and has no eggs. […] I’ve read that this cake is a variation of something called Patrushka Cake. I think you’ll love it.
– Lorraine of AZ, Genius Kitchen | White Whacky Cake, December 2008
Is this really a traditional Albanian dessert, or is it simply an adaptation of an American standard? The jury is out on that one. […] Even though this frugal American cake is typically associated with the Great Depression or the Second World War, historians note that it dates back to the early 1900s, if not earlier. I also discovered a fascinating new name variant in a few places, like this in this typical recipe for a white wacky cake. According to some sources, it’s also known as Patrushka cake, which offers more than a hint of Eastern European origins.
– Blair K, Slovenian Roots Quest | Albanian Mystery Cake Revisited, June 2015

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4 responses to “Patrushka cake variation: banana walnut

  1. Patricia

    You’re right, I loathe bananas and their smell but, oddly, I love banana bread, banana muffins and I’m sure I would love banana cake!

    My dislike of bananas came from being a bus girl at a summer camp where one day I had to sort the cutlery that was all inexplicably covered in banana pudding. As I type this, I can’t unsquinch my face.

    Ewwww! That’s even worse than the Michener exerpt, Patricia! (I was positive that it was the section in Hawaii that caused you to loathe the smell of bananas….) The banana walnut cake was quite delicious, although I think that T should have chopped the bananas a little less coarsely. (Good to know that that particular banana cake can still be labelled “Patrushka Cake”.) – Elizabeth

  2. barbara

    I used to go back and forth on liking bananas, but I haven’t been able to stand the smell or taste, even of banana bread, for years … decades I guess.
    I don’t recall being horrified by bananas in Michener’s “Hawaii”. Do you have a link to the Michener excerpt?
    I also don’t recall smoking banana peels being mentioned there. But I want to imagine the raccoons smoking the peels.

    1. ejm Post author

      The Michener quote is here, Barbara: and there’s nothing about smoking banana peels. I just thought I remembered that there was a myth going around when we were in highschool, saying that a person could get high by smoking banana peels. It seems like the sort of thing raccoons might buy into. Especially if the bananas are free AND organic.

      I just did a google search. Apparently, it was a hoax that was widely reported in 1967 (not that it was a hoax, but that banana peels could produce psychedelic effects), claiming that Donovan’s song “Mellow Yellow” was about getting high from smoking banana peels. I gather there was even a recipe published in the Berkeley Barb Magazine and the hoax was so successful that there were stories about the hallucinogenic properties of banana peel in the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Incredible.

      Please don’t tell the raccoons. I don’t like to burst their bubble.

  3. barbara

    Bleagh. I guess I was so horrified by that passage in Hawaii that I put it out of my mind. I wonder if it that was what put me off bananas, apparently forever. In a sort of a way, I miss peanut butter and banana sandwiches, although in another sort of a way, the very idea makes me carsick.

    Good thing I don’t speak raccoon very well. Otherwise, I might be tempted to tell them that rumour.


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