At Home: Baking a Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Have you heard of the on-line magazine Taste? Its raison d’etre is providing recipes from various sources for the home cook. Since that would be moi, I subscribe.

Back in April, among the recipes they sent to my in-box was “The Nonnegotiables of Good Carrot Cake,” by Allison Robicelli. I like carrot cake but have never made one (though I have a vague memory of having made carrot muffins once). Intrigued, I decided to see what Ms. Robicelli had to say. After extoling the virtues of her carrot cake, she got down to ticking off what should and what should not go into this cake. Here’s where things got interesting. Discussing the eponymous ingredient, she said:

Carrots, of course, even though they’re second banana to everything else in this show. (Speaking of bananas, you can replace the carrots in this recipe with same amount of smushed bananas for banana cake. That cake will overwhelmingly taste like bananas, while no carrot cake has ever tasted like carrots.) In fact, I cannot think of another dessert that relies on carrots for a dang thing. Are the carrots here only for a healthy shot of vitamin A? That sounds good. Let’s go with that. (Bolding mine)

Whoa! When I read that sentence, no way was I making a carrot cake, at least not right away. You see, I just happened to have a bunch of overly-ripe bananas in the refrigerator. Yes, I know. Years ago, the jingle sung by Chiquita Banana warned us to “never, ever put bananas in the refrigerator.” But turns out, she was wrong. Putting a ripe banana in the frig slows the ripening process and doing so with overly ripe bananas keeps them from becoming unusable. In fact, they can even be frozen and then thawed when you’re ready to use them for baking. I’ve done that in the past. But I digress…. When I say overly ripe, that would be bananas with skins that are pretty much black. At that stage, the banana-y flavor is very intense. I’d kept these with the express purpose of baking a cake with a recipe I’ve been using for years. Though it’s a pretty good one, I was psyched to try this new one.

Now, about the frosting. Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting is a classic combo. While vanilla buttercream was my usual frosting for banana cake, using cream cheese frosting now struck me as a brilliant idea. But Robicelli’s recipe seemed unnecessarily complicated. Googling around, I found a much simpler recipe. It came with a banana cake recipe baked in a 9”x13” pan (oddly, the accompanying photo was of a single round layer). I cut the frosting recipe in half which turned out to be more than adequate for my cake.

When it comes to frosting a cake, I’m definitely no expert. Happily, this frosting was easy to work with. While I’d be the first to say I wouldn’t win any medals for a gorgeous finished product, I think the result was o.k.

At Home: Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Of course, you’re now asking the most important question: How did this cake taste? In a word, fantastic! The cake had lovely texture, just the right level of moistness, and intense banana flavor. The cream cheese frosting was fluffy, almost like whipped cream, and its slight tanginess was the perfect contrast to the cake’s sweet banana flavor.

At Home: Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Although Robicelli’s “nonnegotiables” approach was intended for a carrot cake, she was right that it also works splendidly for a banana cake. So, out with my old recipe! This one — along with the easy cream cheese frosting recipe — is a keeper!

At Home: Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting



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