Sunday, September 19, 2010

Banana Layer Cake

Oooooh, doggie, this cake is scrum-diddily-yum! Actually we, at the MacGray house, say "scrum-didily, yone" The way you say "yone" should rhyme with "cone". Really we mean, it's delicious, but I didn't know if you would get I changed the ending to "yum" so you'd get the point. Good? good.

This is the BEST banana cake out there. I assure you that. When I was testing out cake recipes for Sugar Me Sweet (my cake I dedicated some serious time to banana cake. I actually ended up with two on my menu, this version and also a bananas foster cake. Both are scrum-didily...well, you get the point. With this cake, I ended up hodge-podging different recipes together and adding my own ingredients to finally come up with this homey banana cake nirvana. I don't generally recommend tweaking cake recipes. Baking is a science and a little tweaking could cause you a big problem. But, on the other hand, I was making 3 cakes a day sometimes, trying to test recipes out and come up with my menu. I got to know cakes pretty well and could easily come up with acceptable proportion changes and add-ins to form my own recipe.

The only thing you have to have on hand, which could be sort of a pain if you are wanting to make this cake, like now, are very ripe bananas. This sadly is not an option. You simply cannot make banana cake or banana bread for that matter with anything less than dark, heavily spotted, or even black bananas. An unripe or even just ripe banana, does not a great cake make. Say that three times fast. OK, but seriously, If you need ripe bananas pronto, toss your bunch into a paper sack along with an apple and seal it up and leave on the counter overnight. It should speed up the ripening process. I don't know...Something to do with the gasses an apple gives off and how a banana reacts to it (it gets ripe). If you simply can't wait you can do what I do and as bananas go bad, or are in other words, prime for some cake, chuck them in the freezer, skin and all. When you need ripe bananas on the fly you can pull them out of the freezer and defrost them at room temperature for a couple hours. Make sure they are on a plate because some liquid will ooze out. When ready, just cut the skins off and mash the bananas and juice together. However, if you have not prepared in advance for the time when you would need absolutely overly ripe bananas, I'm sorry, but the only thing to do is buy the ripest ones you can get your hands on and wait patiently. I know you didn't want to hear that but it is what it is.

I team this cake up with a creamy vanilla icing that is perfect. It's technically a buttercream, although a little less sweet and a lot creamier. Also you can leave out some of the sugar and make it less sweet if you want without affecting the outcome. I love it because the frosting on this cake is like putting butter on your banana bread. We all know banana bread is fine on it's own, but warm it and top it with some butter and you've taken it to a whole new level, AND managed to add another pound to your thighs. Personally, I like my butter best when it's about room temperature so it stays nice and creamy instead of melting into the bread. It's basically "frosting" if you will be so kind as to go with me there. buttercream frosting is butter, sweetened, is all. So the parallels are appropriate. Behold, the BEST banana cake!

Banana Cake


3 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (4-6 large)
6 tablespoons sour cream (or buttermilk)
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Butter and flour two 9" cake pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift first 4 ingredients into a medium bowl. using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in a large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs one at a time, then mashed bananas, sour cream, rum, and vanilla. Beat dry ingredients into the wet in 2 additions until just combined. Spoon batter evenly into pans.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Cool 15 minutes in their pans, then turn out the cakes onto wire racks to cool. When cool, you can frost the cake.

makes 2 layers


Creamy Vanilla Frosting
adapted from the Magnolia Bakery

3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar (I use bakers granulated sugar b/c it's finer and dissolves quickly)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk milk into flour in a medium sized saucepan. Place over medium heat and stirring constantly, cook until mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, about 15 minutes. (I stir constantly after it begins to bubble for about 3-5 minutes, just to make sure the flour taste is cooked off). Take the pan off the heat and cover with waxed paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temperature.

Beat butter until smooth; gradually add sugar beating continuously for 3 minutes, until fluffy. This beating is important as it help to dissolve the sugar granules. Add vanilla and then the cooled milk mixture, which will have gotten very thick, and beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.

Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Use immediately.

If you are planning on doing a lot of decorating or pipework on the top of your cake, you might want to double the frosting recipe, or maybe even more appropriately, just 1 1/2-ing it. I one and a half recipes quite a lot. Mostly because doubling it would yield more than I need, but if that messes with you, just be on the safe side and double it. I just used the same word twice in one sentence ("double"). Dang, I hate that, but I don't want to go back there and try to re-structure the sentence to make it proper. A ha! I will just divide both thoughts here and create two separate sentences for those of you are bothered by it too. Here it goes: Mostly because doubling it would yield more than I need. If that math messes with you though, just be safe and go ahead and double it. Oye, (no, i'm not Jewish) the things one thinks about while blogging. The joys and grammar. OK, now make this cake! And no, I don't really say "oooooh, doggie!".

Ok, I'm writing this to disclose something. I'm writing this about 5 days after I originally posted this but I just realized that I didn't make this recipe up. I totally thought I did and might be a genius if it was true, but sadly I didn't. It's eerily similar to a recipe over at smitten kitchen, and so I must have gotten it there. It would not be the first time!


  1. Krysta,
    I wanted to reply to your post on my blog but your email address was not available so I hope its ok if I respond here. I agree, it is great to talk to your children about healthy eating choices. I know the girls will have to live in this world and make their own choices eventually. I want them to be capable of doing that. I think my issue lies with how it was presented to me when I was little. I just don't want to make the same mistake.I want them to make the right choices because they are healthy choices and because they want to be healthy not because they feel like there is something wrong with them if the choice is suggested by someone else. I hope that makes sense. Maybe it sounds crazy. But thanks for reading and I do appreciate your view point.

  2. By the way, you have the most scrumptious recipes! This might be making an appearance at my Mom's birthday in a couple weeks. Thanks fro sharing these amazing creations!