The other day, I had several over-ripe bananas ready to be baked into some goodness but I wasn’t in the mood for traditional banana bread. I wanted something light and a little fancy, so I turned to one of my favorite dessert cookbooks, Lee Bailey’s Country Desserts. And never to disappoint, Mr. Bailey had a beautiful Banana Cake recipe just waiting for me. His finished cake featured a boiled whipped frosting just on top and unadorned bananas between the layers. I’m sure those options are luscious, but I was also craving me the ultimate cream cheese frosting that goes with any kind of spice-type cake. Cook’s note- I have to get this out of the way. As you can see, I have a little issue with the bottom layer of the cake. I opened the oven and poked the layer way too early and it lost a bit of it’s poof in the center. Rather than remake and reshoot it, I’m sharing it with you so you can learn from my mistake and because sometimes imperfection is part of a perfect dessert… sometimes.
Banana Cake looks beautiful all wrapped up in the amazing frosting, and you can decorate the top with extra piped frosting or even chopped walnuts. For easy slicing, chill the finished cake in the fridge long enough for the frosting to set up, at least two hours. This cake is at its best the day after assembly and still tasty on day three, if it lasts that long.
The banana flavor is mild enough in this banana cake that even people who aren’t true banana lovers will like it, and fresh banana slices in the center look pretty and taste yummy. In fact, why not place additional slices on top at serving? If you want to lighten up the cake, serve it with flavored whipped cream (try rum or walnut extract) in place of the cream cheese frosting.
Serve all fancied up for a special occasion or simple after dinner on the weeknight, the combination of moist bananas with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg is sure to please. I took a healthy portion of this cake to my parents… they called no less than three times the next day to tell me the cake was “a home run” and “that frosting was awesome!”. I got the hint… next time, take a larger piece.
So, when you have some over-ripe bananas, give this special Banana Cake a try. And if one of your layers sinks a little, fill in the dip with extra frosting. No one will complain.
Lastly, I must get back to my mention of Lee Bailey’s Country Desserts cookbook. If you love to bake a lot or even occasionally, you really must have this book in your collection. One of my family’s favorite cookie recipes, Molasses Cookies, came from this book as well as the best Carrot Cake I’ve ever had (sharing soon). I know others who keep this book as a collectible because of the fresh outdoor photos. For me, this book never fails and I plan on working my way through many more recipes to share with you. This is not a promoted post in any way, I just love this book.
- For the cake:
- 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour, not self-rising
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, may substitute regular granulated sugar but won't be as moist
- 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
- 1 ripe banana for filing, sliced in about 1/4-inch slices (do not slice until just before adding to cake)
- Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 2 8- oz packages regular cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup 2 sticks salted butter
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 cups confectioners sugar
- Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease and lightly flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
- Cream the sugar and butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
- Mix in the flour mixture, alternating with the mashed bananas.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes on a cooling rack, then invert onto rack to coll completely.
- Make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream the softened cream cheese, about 2 minutes. Add the softened butter and beat on high until thoroughly creamed, about 3 minutes. Turn mixer speed to low and slowly add about 1/2 cup at a time of the confectioners sugar. Once all the sugar has been added, beat on high again until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- To complete the cake: Place one layer of cake onto serving plate. Spoon a generous amount of the frosting onto the middle of the cake and using an off-set spatula, spread over top of layer and down sides of cake, smoothing as you go.
- Slice the ripe banana and place slices evenly, covering entire service until all the banana has been used.
- Gently smooth additional frosting over the layer of bananas. Place second layer of cake on top of first layer and repeat frosting process, covering the top and spreading over the sides until covered with thickness to your liking.
- You can serve the cake immediately, but it tastes better if you place the cake in the fridge until the frosting has firmed up, at least 2 hours. This also makes for nice slicing presentation.
- This cake is at it's peak the second day and should be stored in the fridge up to 3 days. To set the frosting, first refrigerate uncovered until the frosting has firmed up. Then gently place plastic wrap, completely covering the cake. When it's time to serve, remove from refrigerator and gently peel off the plastic.
Recipe adapted from Lee Bailey’s Country Desserts.