When we can’t keep up with eating the bananas we’ve bought, they sometimes edge up on us and then I’m thinking about making a banana walnut bread or, in a recipe I found online, a “very moist” banana cake. What attracted me to this recipe were: the promise of moistness after settling the cake down in the freezer for 45 minutes straight out of the oven; the inclusion of fresh buttermilk and the idea that the cake got better as it aged in the refrigerator.
So this morning, I peeled four bananas and mashed them by hand with a fork in a bowl, adding two teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. In another bowl, I measured out three cups of flour, salt and baking soda. Finally in a large bowl, I placed a stick and a half of unsalted butter and nuked it so that it was soft but not melted. Two cups and an eighth of turbinado sugar were beaten into the butter with an old hand mixer, adding three organic fresh eggs one at a time plus two teaspoons of vanilla. Then, according to the recipe, I alternated adding the flour mixture with one and half cups of fresh buttermilk into the creamed mixture. The bananas went in at the very end. The batter looked rich and smooth. I poured it into a 9 X 13 prepared baking pan, then into a 275 degree oven for about an hour and twelve minutes. That’s when a toothpick inserted into the cake came out clean.
In the meantime, I had reconnoitered in the freezer and positioned a cookie sheet so that I could transfer the freshly baked cake right on to it and placed in the freezer for 45 minutes. I had not heard of this before but the recipe swore by this step as a way to ensure the cake would be very moist. After I took it out of the freezer, I waited about a half hour at room temperature before I mixed up a cream cheese frosting to spread on the top. Half a stick of room temperature unsalted butter with eight ounces of Philadelphia cream cheese and about a half cup of confectioners sugar mixed together with the cleaned beaters of my little mixer produced a not very sweet frosting that just covered the top of the sheet cake. Carefully topped with plastic wrap, I set the frosted cake into the fridge to await our first tasting after dinner tonight.
Honestly, the recipe took a long time to prepare. I followed it to the letter including adding fresh lemon juice to the bananas and alternating the dry and wet ingredients culminating with the bananas at the end. The frosting always turns out well–I resisted adding either lemon juice or vanilla, wanting it to be rather austere in its cream cheese-ness. I’m curious to see what kind of alchemy the freezer cooling step produced and will let you know in a little while.
Later: We cut a large piece for G. to take across the street for his 95-year old mother and brother, J. After dinner, we ate our first piece. It was very moist and had a not-sweet banana flavor. The edges of the cake were not dry nor crusty. The frosting was just right, thinly spread along the top. We’ll have it for dessert tonight also when B. joins us for a supper of shepherd’s pie, asparagus and crescent rolls.
Even Later: Just had a nice square of banana cake for dessert tonight, and the recipe was accurate: tastes even better a day later. The cake was moist, tender, flavorful. Worth the time and trouble to follow the recipe ~ a keeper!