Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm dreaming of... Sara Lee Banana Cake

There are certain foods from my childhood of which I am obsessed that alas, are either impossible or very hard to get...

-Mrs Robiberra's tomato sauce- as I recall the BEST
-Heinz Genuine Dill Pickles ( impossible to find in the NY area- they are SO GOOD)
-Frozen Melon Balls-used to get them in the freezer section of the grocery store
-Dairy Queen Zebra cone-DQ- much better than Carvel
-Sara lee Banana Cake- also on the freezer section

It has been 38 years since I was a girl living down the street from Mrs. Robiberra. Her sauce, which I would slurp from a tea cup with a piece of bread , was made each and every week. IT is lost to me.If there are any Robiberra's from Pittsburgh out there that have the family recipe- please let me know!

My pal Robbie's dad "Rope" used to bring down from upstate NY the Genuine Dill Pickles and Frozen Melon Balls.

What a guy.

He has since passed away. I am still touched by his kindness of trekking to the grocery store for his daughter's nutty food obsessed friend(me ) He would drive the 2 hours with my taste bud treasures- making sure to keep the melon balls frozen.How lucky was I (and Robbie -to have such an adorable dad)!

I am lucky enough to be a half hour's drive from a Dairy Queen and I try to get there a few times each year to relive my childhood's after dinner treat. I can close my eyes and be back once again on Ohio River Blvd with my Nonno Joe, who would take us children there whenever he came for a visit.

And last but not least- that wonderful Sara Lee Banana Cake. It was a little bite of heaven (and chemicals I'm sure).

After a Sara Lee craving break down- I decided to google it.

Can you believe it?
There are chat rooms which discuss its demise.

See, I'm not so nutty after all.

Apparently you can buy it in 2 places- Green Bay Wisconsin and Peoria ,Ill. I wish I knew that last January when I was in Green Bay for the night!

Thanks to another Sara Lee-obsessed person- I came across the Fannie Farmer version

Pseudo Sara Lee Banana Cake- from Fannie Farmer Cookbook

1/2 cup vegetable shortening( I like Crisco- now trans fat free!!)
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium sized bananas)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Cream-Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)


1. Use only bananas that are soft and sweet. This is a moist cake that keeps well for at least four days.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 13 x 9 inch pan(just like ole Sara)
3. Cream the shortening, then slowly add the sugar, and beat until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the egg yolks, then the mashed banana and buttermilk, and mix well. Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, add to the banana mixture, and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff but moist. Plop the beaten whites on top of the batter and begin folding them in. Continue folding until blended.
4. Spread evenly in the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan. Frost with Cream-Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
4 Tablespoons Butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups confectioner's sugar (sifted, if lumpy)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a food processor. Beat well or process until perfectly smooth and spreadable.

What's your childhood food fave that you crave but cannot find??


  1. I just googled it as well. I am going with this recipe. We have not been able to find it here in Toronto for many, many years.

    And if I ever meet a Robiberra I will be sure to let them know you are looking for them;)


  2. Let me know how it comes out!!!
    I'm on Weight Watchers so I have to "wait" before some "weight" melts off to make it again.. Thanks for visiting.

  3. Sara Lee Banana Cake hasn't met it's untimely demise. It's still available, in Pittsburgs, PA at some place called Giant Eagle. I guess it's a chain. Isaw this posted so, I cannot verify it. I CAN however verify that is still made and sold in Chicago, IL at any Jewel/OSCO store. Everytime I visit the windy city, I buy a cse of like 15. They last about 2 months. :)

  4. I know all about the Giant Eagle in the Burgh.. Thanks SO MUCH for the tip..I might just have to drive there to get some!The recipe above is not the same at all.

  5. Sara Lee Bananna cake is still sold at publix in florida

  6. Sara Lee Banana Cake is still/now being sold in Arlington VA at the Safeway on Lee Highway off of Harrison Street.

  7. no offense but your recipe is inaccurate. the cream cheese frosting has banana flavoring in it which is probably 60% of why its so yummy!

  8. I couldn't agree with you more. My favorite part is that banana frosting. I tried the Fannie Farmer version and it does not come close...But the good news is that I actually was able to have some!!! It is alive and well in the Publix frozen food section in the West Palm Beach area!!! It was just as I remember it. If you find a recipe that is as good as the original or better please
    let me know!!!

  9. Well, Im so thrilled to hear that it is in Arlington,Va, Palm Beach,Fl, and Pittsburgh,Pa!


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