Glenda Norris bakes the cake(s)

June 01, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

KEEDYSVILLE - Glenda Norris' Banana Bar recipe is what would happen if coffee cake and banana bread had an affair.

The recipe - spice 'n' crumb banana bars - have a crumbly crust like a coffee cake with an inside that is dense like banana bread, though not nearly as sticky.

Start to finish, the bars take about an hour and store easily in the fridge. Avid cake maker Norris, 62, whips up the bars when she's taking short breaks - with much emphasis on short - from her favorite pastime, cake making.

When it's not banana bars, what's baking in Norris's kitchen is German chocolate, apple cake, pretty much any kind of cake you can think of.


Norris lives in Keedysville, strides away from her childhood home, with her 88-year-old mother, who is in Norris' care. Norris is a retired middle school history teacher who teaches at the Maryland state prison complex on Roxbury Road and plays with her Boston terriers, Libby and Sophie.

She got her baking skills from her mother, who was known for her pies.

Norris sat down with The Herald-Mail, a batch of banana bars on the table, to talk about cake making, cooking and enjoying food.

Talking with Glenda Norris

Q: How did you learn to cook?

A: My mom is the best cook - just plain country dishes. I just grew up cooking ... we used to say I make the cakes, mom makes the pies, but mama don't make pies anymore, so I've learned to do that.

Q: What do you like to eat?

A: Pound cake, because it doesn't require frosting. Pound cakes, apple cakes ... when I make my German chocolate cake, I put a broiled coconut topping on it.

Q: What do you have against icing?

A: It's gooey. You can't carry it as well.

Q: What about non-baked goods?

A: We make delicious vegetable soup. When we make it, we make nine to 10 quarts at a time.

Q: Why so much?

A: You just can't make a little bit of vegetable soup.

Q: So what won't you eat?

A: I don't liked cooked spinach. I like broccoli and wild rice, and green beans. Mom says I green bean her to death. The dogs like green beans, too. The neighbors say the (dogs) eat better than some children.

Spice 'n' crumb banana bars

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup shredded coconut, optional
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon mace, optional
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix at a low speed the flour, sugar, brown sugar and butter until the mixture is crumbly. Press 1 1/2 cup of the mixture into an ungreased 13-inch-by-9-inch cake pan.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the butter-crumb mixture for the topping.

There will still be crumb mixture left. To that remaining portion, add the bananas, coconut, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, sour cream and egg. Beat for 1 minute on medium until well-blended.

Pour into the pan. Sprinkle the reserved butter-crumb mixture on top.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and cut into bars.

- Courtesy of Glenda Norris of Keedysville

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