Katsura Morimura’s Banana Cake | JustHungry

Banana cupcakes

Some recipes comply with us round for many of our lives. That is the story of 1 such recipe.

I didn’t develop up pondering that I might be writing about meals in the future. However I used to be obsessive about studying about meals from an early age. I used to pore over my mom’s cookbooks and meals magazines, and I re-read the meals components in my favourite books time and again. (The Chronicles of Narnia have nice meals components. So do the Anne of Inexperienced Gables books.)

I found one of many books that was to have a profound and lasting affect on me on the college library of an elementary college in Hachioji, a suburban metropolis in Tokyo. It was a Japanese e book titled Okashi to Watashi (お菓子とわたし), Sweets and I, by Katsura Morimura. A memoir with sweets because the theme, every chapter was crammed with achingly private, bittersweet anecdotes from the creator’s life, and normally included a recipe. I learn that library e book a lot till the backbone was virtually splitting. Afterward, I purchased a paperback of the identical e book with my scant pocket cash.

Though the tales have been fantastic, the recipes have been what actually intrigued me. I attempted all those that I might afford to, and two of them turned a part of my common repertoire. One was cutout “butter cookies”, which did not have that a lot butter in them however have been actually good and versatile. The opposite was banana cake.

The banana cake chapter is the very first one within the e book. Morimura was in love with Australia, New Zealand and the encompassing area (she had written a e book about touring to New Caledonia within the 1960s, which turned an enormous bestseller and launched her as an creator), and to my twelve 12 months previous self, the banana cake appeared to have a distinctly southern Pacific vibe. She stated the unique banana cake she based mostly hers on was baked wrapped in banana leaves on scorching stones. Her model couldn’t have been that straightforward to make for many of her readers although; it wasn’t baked in scorching stones, nevertheless it required an oven, which was nonetheless a luxurious merchandise in Japan in 1974, when the e book was first revealed. (Ovens are nonetheless thought-about non-essential in Japanese kitchens, even in 2019.)

I used to be fortunate sufficient to have entry to an oven once I encountered the e book a bit later, since my mother and father had reworked their home after coming back from residing a number of years within the UK and the US. I baked that banana cake so many occasions that I misplaced depend. It was a darkish golden brown on the skin, with a most attention-grabbing crumb, moist and a greyish brown, flecked with purple. The perfect factor about it was the aroma – just like the ripest, richest banana you may have ever encountered, mingled with toasted butter.

Morimura continued to jot down on and off about meals, sweets specifically. In 1985 she opened a pastry store in Karuizawa, Nagano, a well-liked resort city for the rich. She continued publishing books commonly, generally releasing two books a 12 months.

Nevertheless, I did not actually sustain together with her writing profession, since our household moved away from Japan once more. Afterward, I misplaced that paperback in one among my quite a few cross-ocean strikes. I purchased it once more, and misplaced that replicate too. The e book and the recipes acquired filed away within the archives part of my thoughts.

Just a few years again, I ran throughout some hand written recipes I had tucked away in an previous pocket book. Two of the recipes in these light, dog-eared pages have been for the butter cookies and the banana cake. I should have written then down in my pocket book once I was in highschool. I made the banana cake in a match of nostalgia, and so they have been simply nearly as good as I remembered. As I munched my method via the cake, I idly puzzled what Katsura Morimura was as much as, and went to look her up on-line.

Plagued with melancholy for a lot of her life, she had dedicated suicide in a hospital in 2004.

Afterwards, I discovered it tough to consider making the banana cake or the butter cookies once more. She had had an extended and profitable writing profession, and had even opened the pastry store of her desires. After a divorce, she had discovered happiness together with her second husband. But it surely was not sufficient to beat her power melancholy. I didn’t know her personally, and there’s no method to know the extent of her sickness.

I put the handwritten recipes away, and finally misplaced them in yet one more transfer. Quickly afterwards my lengthy stretch of great diseases began. I turned unable to even take into consideration meals, not to mention write about it, for lengthy stretches.

Just a few weeks in the past, I all of a sudden acquired a robust urge to make that banana cake once more. I wasn’t in an excellent place, mentally – final 12 months was all types of hell. However though my circumstances have been very messy, bodily I felt higher than I had in years. And mentally, I used to be slowly making an attempt to get my bearings once more.

I used to be capable of finding a used copy of the e book. I needed to modify the components a bit – the unique recipe was truly so much vaguer than I had remembered. However as soon as they have been executed and out of the oven, there they have been once more – the wealthy brown crust, the moist, purple-flecked crumb,and that buttery-banana taste.

After I chunk right into a banana cake, which I’m able to get pleasure from once more at the least for now, reminiscences of my mom’s kitchen in Hachioji, in a home that now not exists, intermingle with passages from Katsura Morimura’s e book. Bittersweet recollections of my late father, with whom I shared a love of meals and flicks however little else, are intertwined with the ultimate chapter in her e book, which is about her late father, who spent all the cash he had earned for a uncommon job (he too was a author) and acquired a field of desserts as an alternative of paying the overdue payments. I take into consideration how I’ve in some way turn into a author, and marvel about how a lot she influenced me method again once I was 12.

This cake could be very wealthy, so I can solely have one cupcake at a time, or a slice if I bake it as an entire cake. However the buttery perfume lingers within the air for a while.

(Footnote: Sweets and I (お菓子とわたし)is out of print, however is available in Japan as a used book. There isn’t a English translation of it.)

Katsura Morimura’s Banana Cake as Cupcakes


Supply Katsura Morimura
Prep time

15 minutes

Cooking time

30 minutes

Complete time

45 minutes


A banana cake that’s redolent with reminiscences, and my love for a e book since I used to be twelve years previous. It is extremely buttery-rich and aromatic. On a sensible observe, it is an effective way to make use of up over-ripe bananas.


cake flour (6 1/three oz (1 half U.S. cups plus about 1 tablespoon); all-purpose flour is okay too)
baking soda ((pn = pinch) )


very ripe bananas (very spotty or black ones are high-quality )

unsalted butter (7 oz. (2 sticks minus 2 tablespoons); room temperature)
granulated sugar (5 oz (5/eight U.S. cup))


Pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F.

Make the gear you will be baking the cake in prepared by buttering it and/or lining it. (I used a muffin tin with a non-stick floor, which I buttered flippantly.)

Sift the flour and baking powder collectively and put aside.

Put the milk and baking soda in a small pan and warmth. When the milk foams up like loopy (this solely takes just a few seconds), take the pan off the warmth. (That is the magic behind the mysterious purple streaks within the cake crumb.)

Mash the bananas with a fork.

Cream the butter along with the sugar and salt. Beat the eggs flippantly and add to the butter-sugar combine. Add the foamed milk and bananas, and blend nicely till pretty clean. Fold the flour combine in somewhat at a time utilizing a spatula. Do not over combine.

Pour the batter into the muffin tin or whichever cake tin you’re utilizing. Bake till a picket skewer caught within the center comes out clear. For muffins it takes about 25-30 minutes. For an entire cake it would take 10-15 minutes extra.

This smells and tastes nice contemporary out of the oven, however tastes even higher the following day and for just a few days after that – in the event that they final that lengthy.


Cooking occasions will fluctuate relying on the baking container you utilize.

There are two banana desserts by Katsura Morimura round. One is from her Karuizawa pastry store days, and it is known as “Banana Cake for forgetful ones”. This one is an earlier model, merely known as Banana Cake. I’ve tailored the ingredient quantities barely, and the directions are my very own.

I baked the cake in a typical measurement muffin tin, however make no mistake – these are wealthy desserts, not muffins. You possibly can bake it in a single sq. pan, an oblong loaf pan or a spherical cake pan. If the cake manages to final for greater than a day with out disappearing, it may be minimize in half and unfold with strawberry or raspberry jam, which provides it one other dimension.

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