Jane Melzora’s Banana Cake

Jane (Thomas) Melzora along with her husband Melzer and three boys had to have one of the most interesting lives of anyone I know. Performing as the "The Flying Melzoras," this family devoted their lives to circus performing across country. The family even built a barn behind their home on Collingwood, teaching other 'would-be' trapeze artists and neighborhood children.

Jane remained a trapeze artist until she was 65. She was one of the few woman catchers in the world and the oldest woman aerialist ever!

She is listed in the Saginaw County Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Circus Hall of Fame - Sarasota, Florida in 1966. Jane was also honored by the Women’s Historical Center and the Jane Melzora Ring of Model Circus Builders is named in her memory.

Ready to get into her recipe! Here is what you will need to get started:

1 c sugar

2 heaping tbsp butter

1 c buttermilk 

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

2 bananas (mashed)

1/2 c nuts (optional)

2 c flour

Cream together butter with sugar. Beat in egg. Dissolve baking soda in butter. Add alternately with flour. Beat in bananas and nuts. Pour into greased 9x9 inch pan. Bake at 350° degrees until it bounces back when touched.


1/2 box of powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla 

1 heaping tbsp butter

Enough milk for desired consistency 

Cream together sugar and butter. Add vanilla and enough milk to spread.

My family loves banana cake so I had to try this. While I did not have a 9x9 inch pan, I used a regular cake pan and baked it between 40 - 45 minutes. The frosting was the right amount of a thin layer of sweetness on top and the texture was similar to icing.

To learn more about Jane Melzora and this Saginaw based circus performing family visit Zahnow Library at Saginaw Valley State University and Saginaw County Hall of Fame.

Deana Coleman, our staff associate, tests out weekly recipes from the cookbook Savoring Saginaw.

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