Bake Someone Happy !
There are a couple of things in life that I think you shouldn’t get enough of: croissants with beautiful feuilletage, sourdough bread that’s full of bite, and fail-proof chocolate chip cookies. And super delicious chocolate buttercream. Okay, so that’s four things. My math suffers when faced with the pleasant contemplation of what makes the bucketlist of best baked goods.
I’ve been through quite a few banana cake/bread recipes in my sporadic baking sprees. More often than not, I’ve used recipes that resulted in heavy/close-textured cake crumbs – possibly due to the variation of the mashed banana amount. Well — I am pleased to share this recipe by Stephanie Alexander for a not-too-sweet, flavourful banana pound cake with a spongy texture. I’ve made it a couple of times within the past month and both times, no complaints.
Her recipe calls for a walnut and brown sugar topping, and as you can see from the main photo, I’ve made one with a cream cheese frosting and added nonpareils to pretty it up. It was for Boy 9’s birthday cake; the disappointment of not having a Minecraft-related cake three years running was quickly offset by the cream cheese and banana cake, two of his favs. Crisis averted!
250 g all purpose flour1 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
125g softened unsalted butter1 ½ cups sugar (= 225 g)2 eggs1 cup mashed ripe banana1 teaspoon vanilla extract½ cup buttermilk (or ½ cup milk mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice/distilled vinegar)
3 tablespoons (= 41 g) coarsely chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts because I had that on hand, but Ms. Alexander’s recipe calls for walnuts)3 tablespoons all purpose flour1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon100 g cold unsalted butter (cubed)3 tablespoons brown sugar
200 g Philadelphia cream cheese25 g softened unsalted butter100 g sifted icing sugar1 teaspoon vanilla extract
I used an 8″ round springform pan for the batter, lined with baking paper.
After getting your mise en place sorted, pre-heat your oven to 180 ºC.
If you are opting for a streusel topping, prepare it first as it needs to keep chilled until the batter is ready to be baked. To make the streusel topping, incorporate all of the dry ingredients into a bowl, then rub in the cold cubed butter using your fingertips. You are aiming for a clumpy, rough-bread-crumb texture (like the sort you’d get in an apple crumble). Set this aside (preferably in the fridge) and start on your cake batter.
Start with creaming the butter and sugar until it doubles in volume (and becomes lighter and “fluffy”), then add the eggs in one by one, beating to incorporate well, followed by the mashed banana.
Then switch to a spatula to fold in a third of the dry mix, alternating with an eye-balled splash of the buttermilk-vanilla mixture. This step is repeated until all of the dry mix and buttermilk are used.
Once the batter has been poured into the cake pan, drop the cake pan several times onto the tabletop to knock out bubbles. If you are making a streusel-topped cake, this is the time to take the chilled streusel out from the fridge and scatter it liberally across the batter.
The batter takes about 45 minutes to bake – let your nose guide you! (Note: it will brown substantially).
If you choose to make a cream cheese frosting instead, you have plenty of time to work on that while the cake is in the oven! A hand-held electric whisk is pretty handy here. Whisk the cream cheese until it doubles in volume somewhat, then add the vanilla and icing sugar. Roughly mix the cream cheese and icing sugar first with your whisk attachment before switching the power on and letting it rip. (This is to avoid getting that cloud of icing sugar all over you). Lastly, whisk in the softened butter. A spot of chilling in the fridge will keep the cream cheese frosting firm for the piping. Once the cake cooled, I used a Wilton 1M tip to pipe the rosettes and added the nonpareils.
I hope you give this recipe a go. This is a keeper!