Banana Cake on Valentine’s Day

One of the benefits of doing business mostly by mail and at farmers markets is that I may be busy leading up to a holiday, but the holiday itself is usually pretty chill.  So after the rush of sending out Valentine’s Day orders, I found myself with time to make a cake.  I made the Frosted Banana Cake from Claire Clark’s Indulge cookbook for Chad — and let’s be honest, me.  We had a couple bananas that were ultra-ripe (um, black) that we’d frozen so I defrosted them for it; they were a bit of a water balloonish consistency, but I think still this side of nutritionally safe.  And they made for a great cake!

I wanted something a little different than a regular banana bread, and I was intrigued by her recipe because it uses all dark brown sugar for the sweetener.  She said that she loves the caramel flavor (or rather “flavour,” in her British manner), and while I don’t usually like candies that use dark sugar instead of caramelized sugar, I thought it might be really interesting in a cake, especially paired with banana.  I was also curious to see what kind of texture and sweetness it would give, since all dark brown sugar in cookies makes them sweeter, thicker, and chewier.  But this recipe whips the sugar with eggs and oil before adding flour, baking powder, and the banana, so the mixing method and ingredients (no butter) are quite different.

It all turned out deliciously.  Its crumb is slightly  denser than a standard cake, but lighter than a quickbread.  And it has the loveliest caramel note backing up the banana.  The banana flavor was even more pronounced the second day.  It’s just the right sweetness, and we can barely keep away from it.

I just made a few changes to the recipe.   I added a big pinch of salt, since just about every recipe benefits from its presence and the recipe didn’t call for any.  I also used 2/3 dark brown sugar to 1/3 light brown sugar (I chickened out a little) and 2/3 walnut oil (which I had) to 1/3 vegetable oil (which she recommends).  I also sprinkled fresh macadamia nuts on top, even though she mixes in pecans.  Next time, I may sub buckwheat or whole wheat flour for about a 1/5 of the AP flour…. and maybe add chocolate chips.

And since I made the recipe x1.5,  I stayed good to my vow to wonder “How would it look as it a mini-loaf?” so that I could use my dear E. Dehillerin tins.

The actual cake was frosted with her cream cheese frosting (to which I added more cream cheese since I found the original recipe too buttery for my tastes).

4 Responses to “Banana Cake on Valentine’s Day”

  1. rainey Says:

    Looks good!

    I have to agree with the recipe author — I substitute brown sugar for sugar as often as I can and I can usually replace at least half the granulated often much more. I also use browned butter instead of regular butter when I can and buttermilk for milk.

    Naturally, there’s a difference in texture with browned butter and it’s important to compensate for the acid in buttermilk where leavening is concered. Still, the little extra bits of flavor is always nice and sometimes it really makes something zing!

    Your tiny narrow baking pans look adorable. Is this something that could morph into a confection in some way?

  2. Paula Maack Says:

    Thanks to you, I now have a big, half-eaten banana cake in my kitchen! With cream cheese frosting. And, I;m love=in’ it! YUMM!!!


    ~ Paula

  3. Reeni Says:

    I have been craving banana cake all week! This looks wonderfully moist and delicious!

  4. NIna Says:

    Rainey – I’ll have to play around more with brown sugar baking, too! It gave such a refined flavor. And browned butter and buttermilk? YUM.

    And I’m glad you like the pans. I hadn’t thought about using the pans for confections, but you’re right, they would make for something unique and pretty… I’ll give it some thought….

    Paula – NICE!!! I’m so glad that you were inspired.

    Reeni – Thank you. 🙂

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