WITH NO ARTIFICIAL BANANA. ALSO LIKE BANANA BREAD EXCEPT BETTER BECAUSE IT’S CAKE.
This recipe is the first one I created entirely from scratch, so there’ll probably be some tweaks as time goes by. It’s a good thing.
- 1 cup of sifted AP flour (130g)
- 3/4 cup of sugar (150g)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (4g)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (1g)
- 1 large egg, room temp (~55g)
- 1/4 cup, or 1/2 a stick of unsalted butter, room temp (~55g)
- 1/4 cup of whole milk, room temperature (65 grams)
- 1/4 cup of buttermilk, room temperature (65 grams)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (1g)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (2g)
- Half a ripe banana, mashed (50-60g)
- Half a ripe banana, sliced (saved for assembly)
- Banana chips (optional) for decorating
- Three 4 inch cake rounds
- Parchment rounds/paper
- Butter or baking spray
- Offset spatula
- Whisk/hand mixer/standing mixer
Preheat DAT OVEN to 350°F. Line your cake rounds with parchment paper and grease with butter or non-stick baking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together sugar and room temp butter until smooth, fluffy, and slightly lighter in color. Add in egg and beat until just combined, then mix in milk and vanilla extract. Add in mashed banana – the mixture may look slightly curdled – and beat until combined. Sift in flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, and mix until combined. There may be some lumps from the banana, but don’t worry about those. Texture is fun.
Divvy your batter up into the three pans as equally as you can (if you have a scale, for the love of GOD USE IT but if you don’t it’s no big deal just try to be accurate thx) and bake for 30-32 minutes. There’s baking soda and powder in this sucker, and buttermilk, which triggers a chemical reaction in the baking soda, so it should go straight into the oven so that the lifting reaction doesn’t peter out before the bake actually kicks off in earnest. There are two raising agents in here because the bananas add weight, but if you’re seeing some major doming action, drop the temp down to 325 and let the cake bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick or skewer comes out clean. In my experience, it shouldn’t be necessary, but no two ovens are the same and nothing really goes the way you’d expect it to in baking, I’ve learned.
Take the cakes out and run an offset spatula around the edges to release them from the pan. Let cool in the pan for twenty minutes or so, then take out of the pans and chill in the freezer until solid.
Vanilla crème patisserie
I promise that I’m working on a blog post that explains wtf a crème patisserie is, but for now, just know that it’s custard and cornstarch.
Oh. Yeah, it’s that.
- 3 egg yolks ( ≈ 55 grams)
- 2/5 cup of sugar (55 grams)
- 1 ¾ cups whole milk, heavy cream, or a combo of the two depending on how rich you want this sucker to be.(220 grams)
- 1 teaspoon good vanilla extract ( ≈ 6 grams)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (17 grams)
- (Optional) 2 tablespoons unsalted room temp butter
- Medium-sized saucepan
- Medium-sized glass or metal bowl
- Silicon balloon whisk
- Rubber or silicon spatula
- Clean empty bowl or container
Add the milk to a medium-sized saucepan and heat over medium until just simmering – don’t allow it to boil, but you should at least see steam coming off of the surface. In a medium-sized metal or glass bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and cornstarch and whisk until smooth and lighter in color. Once the milk is simmering, ladle it into the bowl with one hand, whisking the eggs mixture constantly with the other Cornstarch coagulates at 203° F, which is higher than the boiling point of water, so it is essential to for you to keep whisking. Cornstarch is also a drama queen in that it absolutely refuses to work, and then decides it’s going to work all at once, so once second you’ll be stirring a liquid, and then BAM. Thickening City, baby, population: You. So don’t panic and crank up the heat just because it isn’t thickening right away. Patience is a virtue.
Once the crème pat thickens up, take it off the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and the butter if you choose to add it. It just adds more richness to the mix, which is never a bad thing. Sieve the mixture into a bowl while it’s still warm to catch any scrambled egg (it happens, don’t fret), using the spatula to help it along and scrape out anything in the corners of the pan, then cover with cling film pressed into the surface so it doesn’t form a skin, then chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
Cream cheese frosting
I mean, go for traditional buttercream if you want. IT’S YOUR LIFE.
- 8 ounces room temp cream cheese
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (1 stick), also room temp.*
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt*
*If you only have salted butter, omit the pinch of salt. You may need to add extra sugar/vanilla, because the salt level in butter makes it harder to control the saltiness of the product.
- Medium-sized mixing bowl
- Standing mixer OR handheld mixer
Throw the cream cheese and butter in the mixing bowl and beat on medium-high until smooth, creamy, and pale. There should be no lumps. NONE. If there are lumps now before you add the other ingredients, you will not be able to get rid of them. Bet.
Make sure to scrape the bowl to ensure every ounce of the mixture has been beaten. Add in the vanilla and salt, if applicable, and mix to combine. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and beat on slow to medium after each addition so it doesn’t kersplode all over your kitchen/face. Fully incorporate each cup of sugar before adding the next.
After the sugar is added, beat on high for 30 seconds to get some air into the frosting and make it lighter and fluffier. Or, if you like it to be smoother and denser, stir by hand with the spatula to spread out and eliminate air bubbles.
Cover and chill in the fridge until ready for assembly.
Take the frozen cakes out and level them with a bread knife or cake leveler while they’re still firm. On two of the cakes, pipe a ring of cream cheese frosting near the edge, then fill the space with chilled crème patisserie and banana slices. Stack and top with the last cake, then decorate with the remaining frosting, and crème pat and bananas if desired. Don’t put any sliced banana on the top of the cake because they’ll brown very quickly and that’s gross. Use banana chips instead, if you must.
There’s a lot of dairy in this sucker, so keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Goes great with coffee! Or a banana daquiri perhaps. Or straight rum. Whatever, I don’t judge.
I made this cake as a special request from a friend of mine for her husband’s 40th birthday. He loves banana cream pie and the original plan was for me to make cupcakes that captured the flavors of that dessert, but she wanted real banana in there if I could swing it. I like challenges, but every recipe I’ve ever found for banana cake calls for banana pudding mix or banana extract/essence, which is disgusting and that is a hill I will die on. Unfortunately, COVID-19 put a damper on her surprise birthday plans so she canceled the order, but I decided NO YOU’RE GETTING A CAKE. I also opted not to tell her what I was making so that if I screwed it up, I could just throw it away and make something else and NO ONE WOULD BE ANY THE WISER.
TL;DR banana cake should not use banana pudding powder or banana essence because that ish is N A S T Y and there’s no reason on earth we can make banana bread but not banana cake, thank you for coming to my TED Talk.