banana fana fo fana: willie nelson’s famous banana bread AKA ubc cake

Cornelius loves bananas. I hate ’em and I welcome their untimely demise. There is only one instance where I welcome their sickly sweet and slimy texture…it’s a version of banana bread that won me over at our local bakery, called “UBC cake” which stands for Ultimate Banana & Chocolate cake. It is the ultimate! A crispy cinnamon sugar topping studded with chocolate chips. What’s not to like? A few years ago a friend in San Francisco sent me a recipe that she called “Willie Nelson’s Famous Banana Bread”. I’m not sure if Willie made the bread or if it really was some kind of famous secret recipe, but I baked it and it tasted just like the UBC cake I loved! Ooooh, I was sooooo thankful for the recipe and it’s delicious results that I didn’t even care that bananas were a part of the mix.

39 comments to “banana fana fo fana: willie nelson’s famous banana bread AKA ubc cake”

  1. 1
    Ivonne   February 24, 2006 at 4:14 am

    Fantastic post!

    I share your reservations when it comes to bananas. It’s not so much that I hate them, I’m just very picky about them.

    But this looks great … thanks for the recipe!

  2. 2
    Molly   February 24, 2006 at 8:15 am

    I hated bananas – the taste and the texture – as a kid, but I’ve slowly been warming to them, especially in breads and other desserts. This looks incredible! Thanks for sharing, dear kickpleat.

  3. 3
    crystal   February 24, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    Oh, no! No more bananas? Anyway, anything is better with chocolate. 🙂

  4. 4
    mai   February 25, 2006 at 11:50 am

    how many cups of mashed bananas did your 3 bananas make?

    this recipe looks great. kind of like the mexican monkey cake over at the farmgirl fare blog (but healthier!).


  5. 5
    kickpleat   February 25, 2006 at 12:54 pm

    Thanks Ivonne, glad to know I’m not the only banana-hater out there!

    Molly, it’s a pretty good recipe and it just might be the one to convince me that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if bananas outlived me!

    Yes, it’s true, Crystal! True about your chocolate comment and I’ll add cinnamon to that list, as well.

    Mai, I didn’t measure the bananas to see how much it added up to. The recipe said “3 bananas” and that’s what i added.

  6. 6
    patrick   February 25, 2006 at 6:01 pm

    hey Kickpleat.

    this is a little random – I saw your comment on Popsheep.

    I might explode if i don’t get a copy of Mississippi Luau. But it’s SO not available anywhere. Is there any chance u could hook me up with some MP3s?

    It was worth a try askin. u could email me at [email protected] if u can help, if not, sorry to bother u…

  7. 7
    Stephanie   February 25, 2006 at 6:17 pm

    I used to like bananas till the incident where a teacher invited me to her house for dinner and I ended up cooking it! She adored bananas and demanded I make a warehouse full of banana cakes. I refused to touch bananas for a very long time after that. I love the look and the recipe for this fab cake though!

  8. 8
    Fran   February 26, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    Love the recipe. Will definitely use it. Thanks.

  9. 9
    Anonymous   February 27, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    Love your blog — just came across it from Zen Foodism (another fav). The recipe looks great. Love banana bread and chocolate together. Cooking Light has a Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread that is amazing — it might convert you yet. I can’t wait to try your recipe. Bought bananas today!

  10. 10
    Randi   February 28, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    I notice there is no fat in the bread, is this correct?

  11. 11
    kickpleat   February 28, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    Patrick, sorry, I only have the album on vinyl! Good luck in your search.

    mm, having a teacher invite you over for dinner & then making you cook?! That’s insane! You have a very justifiable banana complex 🙂

    Thanks Fran!

    Hello Anonymous, thanks for stopping by!

    Randi, it is indeed true! No fat! Just some butter to grease the pan with.

  12. 12
    jana   March 1, 2006 at 12:33 am

    Ooooo. I’m trying that. Send any spare bananas my way. 😉

  13. 13
    Anonymous   March 2, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    After seeing this recipe, I had to try it! Couldn’t wait until my bananas were real ripe today. Just finished a piece — it tasted great! Thanks so much. If you don’t mind, have a question. Not sure of the top of the cake turned out right — the sugar stayed white (looked like it came right out of the sugar container). ALso, the topping (maybe crust) you can kind of peel right off and for some reason the edges didn’t have crust (I guess I didn’t put the sugar over the whole cake). But it was GREAT!! will make AGAIN!!

  14. 14
    Molly   July 19, 2006 at 8:44 pm

    We made this last weekend, finally, and it was delicious! I loved how bread-y it was, as opposed to the usual dense, rich texture of a banana bread. I made just a couple of changes: I pureed the bananas in a food processor, rather than just mashing ’em; and I decreased the cinnamon to 2 tsp. It was heavenly. We froze half of it and then – ooh la la – discovered that it was even better frozen. Yum, yum! A definite keeper.

  15. 15
    kickpleat   July 19, 2006 at 11:15 pm

    Hi Anon, hmmm, I have no idea why the sugar stayed white….maybe you didn’t just lightly sprinkle it around the cake? I”m not very good at solving baking problems, but I’m glad you enjoyed it anyway!

    Molly, ah, you are lucky to have a food processor! Me, I’m dreaming of one constantly (really). I’m glad the cake turned out lovely and eating it frozen sounds like a perfect summer night treat.

  16. 16
    Anonymous   July 29, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    BEST banana bread EVER. I made it today and we ate half of it already! Really moist- I can’t believe it’s got no extra fat (bonus!) Thanks much for the recipe! – Stacey

  17. 17
    Rach   August 9, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    I adored this banana bread, so much so that I made it, photographed it and wrote it up on my much-neglected group food blog. Here tis.

  18. 18
    Augustina   August 24, 2007 at 8:39 am

    I baked your banana bread recipe last night–actually made 2 mini loaves, 1 with choc chips and the other without, and used cake flour instead–WOW! what a delicious banana bread. I was pleasantly surprised at how moist the bread was and there was virtually no fat (except from the eggs). Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  19. 19
    Michelle   May 27, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    I just made this for the second time…I had quite a different experience from mm…I brought this to dinner at a professor’s house the first time I made and she loved it! Her daughter begged her to keep the leftovers.
    This time I used white whole wheat flour and less sugar and chocolate chips. It makes great cupcakey muffin treats, too!

  20. 20
    Malena   May 31, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    In the oven, waiting to see the results. Smells wonderful!!!

  21. 21
    Natasha   December 9, 2010 at 5:55 am

    I made the UBC over the weekend, it was delicious!! So so good. I adore your recipes and blog. I blogged about the UBC, too good not to share on my little blog 🙂

  22. 22
    Sabine   March 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    This sounds (and looks!) delicious; I’ve tried chocolate chip banana bread, but never chocolate chocolate chip banana bread!
    Is this your picture, above? I saw the same one here

  23. 23
    kickpleat   March 23, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Sabine, yes, this is my photo. Thank you for alerting me to that site. Yes, she is stealing my photo and copying my recipe – perhaps she’s a new blogger and doesn’t realize the etiquette. Thank you!!

  24. 24
    SixBalloons   June 8, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Just baked one up and sampled a piece. Great recipe! Thanks for the tip on reducing the sugar and choco chips, I think it is still decadent without it.

    I love that I can mix everything basically using one bowl. I am almost tempted to mix and bake in the same Pyrex dish but that might be one step too lazy, even for me. I topped the sugary coating on one half, but I think I prefer the loaf without – crispy choco chips work for me!

  25. 25
    Joshua Miller   September 2, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    I love Ponderosa cake!

  26. 26
    Lianne   January 10, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    This looks amazing! I was wondering if it would work if I baked it in a loaf pan?

  27. 27
    kickpleat   January 11, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Lianne, yes, you can bake it in a loaf pan – just increase the baking time.

  28. 28
    Evelyn Gonzalez   March 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Just baked it! I followed the recipe with your adjustments. I loved it and my dad loved it as well!!!
    The smell was delicious! The sugar still looked white after I baked it but it didn’t matter to me. Thank you for the recipe!

  29. 29
    jane   October 28, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Just put two batches in the oven! Can’t wait to see how it comes out!! After reading all the positive feed back I’m sure it will be fantastic!!!!

  30. 30
    Cindy   September 11, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    A gentle correction – UBC stands for University of British Columbia. The UBC Ponderosa cafeteria was constructed in the 1960s and this cake was a speciality of theirs. I had it many times when I went to school there.

  31. 31
    kickpleat   September 11, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks Cindy! I assumed it was from UBC so thanks for letting me know. I’m more familiar with the version at Uprising Bakery in East Van which probably wrangled their own recipe based on the original.

  32. 32
    Kristen   October 16, 2023 at 4:41 pm

    IDk what made me think of this after so many years but I was walking to the store to get banana bread ingredients and somewhere in the back of head, I heard WILLIE NELSON BANANA CAKE and was like “wait is that actually a thing or am I losing it” but I looked it up and it was you! anyway, I am making it now and hope everything is good with you 🙂

  33. 33
    Keegs   April 16, 2024 at 7:55 pm

    Willie knows country music, weed, and now banana bread. I can’t believe how good and relatively healthy this is compared to say Martha Stewart’s recipe. As I was making it I realized it’s low far because there is no butter or oil in it and it’s low sodium as there is no added salt, only the sodium in the teaspoon of baking soda. With out oil or butter I thought it would be dry but it was not. It was like a chocolate chip banana coffee cake. Next time I may add a tablespoon or 2 of vanilla greek yougurt for added protien and moisture.

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