If you’ve eaten at UBC in the past 50 years, you’ve probably seen UBC Ponderosa Cake. It’s banana bread’s cakey cousin: Fluffy squares bigger than your fist and topped with a sprinkling of chocolate chips. Ponderosa Cake can be found in nearly every UBC Food Services café and dining room on campus, including Ike’s and Harvest.
The recipe was developed in the 1960s, back when UBC’s bakeshop was located in the old Ponderosa building. Oak House in Ponderosa Commons stands on the same site today. The majestic old ponderosa tree that gave its name to the buildings and the cake still stands in the courtyard at Oak House.
Exactly how and why Ponderosa Cake came about is a bit of a mystery. One origin story is that the bakeshop created the recipe after an accidental extra shipment of bananas. It proved to be popular and a great way to use up overripe bananas from the residence dining rooms, and the recipe stuck.
More than five decades later, UBC Food Services is still making Ponderosa Cake from the same simple recipe: flour, butter, bananas, sour cream and chocolate chips.
Take the experience home with the original recipe from our campus bakery and a helpful how-to video made by the Alumni UBC team! Scroll down for the recipe.
UBC Ponderosa Cake Recipe
Yield: 18 Large Servings
1 cup (250ml) butter
2 cups (500ml) sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla
3 medium ripe bananas
3 cups (750ml) flour
2 tsp (10ml) baking powder
2 tsp (10ml) baking soda
1 cup (250ml) sour cream
1 tsp (5ml) cinnamon
½ cup (125ml) brown sugar
1 ½ cups (375ml) chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Cream together butter and sugar.
- Add beaten eggs and beat until smooth.
- Add vanilla and bananas; mix until smooth.
- Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda, add to banana mixture alternately with sour cream, ending with dry ingredients.
- Pour half the batter into greased 9×13-inch (22x32cm) pan.
- Combine cinnamon and brown sugar. Sprinkle half of this mixture over the batter in pan. Top with half of the chocolate chips.
- Repeat layers.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing into large squares.