The Banana Cake Above All Banana Cakes

The controversy surrounding the banana can be quite intense. I feel that you either love them or hate them, and when it comes to dessert most people I know fall into the latter category. Perhaps I’m odd, but I absolutely adore banana desserts. I don’t eat them on their own (unless they are those thai fried bananas or smothered in peanut butter) but send them to me as an after dinner treat and I shall love you forever.

I moved to Sunnyvale a few months ago after starting a new job in San Jose, and it’s been hectic to say the least. Sunnyvale has been great though, and there is an abundance of cool grocery stores to find new things at. Enter New Seasons Market, which just opened a few weeks ago. Their whole concept is local food, which I am a huge fan of; plus they serve wine and beer everyday in their cafeteria #SOLD.

I popped in Friday evening to get dinner, wine and something sweet and discovered their banana cake. I ate the entire slice (it was huge) in one sitting. It wasn’t overly sweet, the banana flavor came through beautifully and the cake itself was moist and delicious. I had never thought of making a cake out of bananas, every time I’ve wanted a carb based dessert for this ingredient I make banana bread with a glaze. I decided to attempt to recreate it – I will likely play with this recipe a bit more but wanted to share the first attempt that turned out oh so yummy.

banana-cake-brown-butter-cream-cheese-frosting-2
Photo by Sally’s Baking Addiction

Banana Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

(adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction’s recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 3 large ripe bananas (about 1 and 1/2 cups mashed)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 8-ounce blocks (12 ounces) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • Up to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar (start with 3 cups and add based off level of sweetness you like)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 large ripe bananas, mashed (read note about this step below)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease three round 9×2 inch cake pans. Set aside.
  • Brown the butter in step 8 now, then place into the refrigerator to solidify as instructed below. This will save time when you’re ready to make the frosting.

Make the cake:

  • Mash the bananas. I usually just use my mixer for this! Set mashed bananas aside.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  • Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the mashed bananas. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not over mix. The batter will be slightly thick.
  • Divide batter evenly between 3 pans. Bake for 22-26 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely in the pan.

Make the frosting:

  • Slice the butter up into pieces and place in a light-colored skillet. (Light colored helps you determine when the butter begins browning.) Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep stirring occasionally. After 5-8 minutes, the butter will begin browning– you’ll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it will have a nutty aroma. See photo above for a visual. Once browned, remove from heat, and immediately pour into a heat-proof bowl. Refrigerate until solid.
  • In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the solid brown butter on high speed until creamed. Add the cream cheese and beat on high speed until combined, smooth, and creamy. Add 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar.
  • My preference at this point is to take part of the frosting for the outside of the cake and put it in another bowl. With the remaining frosting meant for the inside layers I add the 1 mashed banana to the frosting. This helps bring another level of texture to the cake and reinforces that banana flavor.

Assemble and frost: 

  • Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with the banana, brown butter frosting. Top with 2nd layer with the same frosting and evenly cover. Finish with the third cake layer and spread with the separate, non banana frosting all over the top and sides. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before slicing or else the cake may gently fall apart as you cut.
  • Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

This dessert is a perfect summer cake, not overly sweet and a nice, light consistency to it. Enjoy!

– The Reportery

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