Monday, July 26, 2010

ULTIMATE BANANA CAKE

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This recipe is also known as “best banana cake,” and Banana Cake VI, depending on which internet site you visit.  When I read the directions, my cynical mind rejected the recipe.  Baking a cake at 275F and then putting it in the freezer for 45 minutes sounded insane to me.  However, the person who dreamed up this method is a genius.  Never have I tasted a banana cake with such wonderful flavor and texture. 

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The moistness and tenderness are incomparably the ultimate.  It’s the kind of cake you dream about at night and find yourself raiding the refrigerator for at 3AM to just sneak another piece of heaven.  My old favorite one-bowl banana cake recipe has dropped to second place, and there is a new king on the throne.  But I fear that I’ll be buying more bananas now, just to be able to make more of this incredibly good banana cake.  This, coming from one who is not a banana cake fan.  Pretty amazing.

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I did make a few changes to the recipe.  First, I was put off at the amount of sugar.  I changed the ratio to equal that of my one-bowl fave recipe, cutting out 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. of sugar.  I used stevia in place of half the remaining sugar, to cut it even further.  Then I used applesauce and Smart Balance 50/50 butter blend in place of the butter, and half whole-wheat flour for added fiber.  Besides the extraordinary texture and moistness, the cake was also plenty sweet, and had a wonderfully complex flavor that went well with the cream cheese icing.  (I frosted one small strip of the cake with chocolate frosting for my hubby who does not appreciate the fine points of cream cheese icing.)  Plenty of toasted chopped pecans went over the top.  Everyone, but everyone, who tasted this went wild. 

ULTIMATE BANANA CAKE
Adapted from allrecipes.com
Rating:  10 out of 10
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INGREDIENTS:
1-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1-1/2 cups mashed bananas
1/2 cup applesauce plus or unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup Smart Balance 50/50  Butter Blend (or butter)
1-1/2 cups sugar (I used 3/4 cup sugar + 3 Tbsp. NuNaturals Stevia)
3 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used my homemade vanilla)
1-1/2 cups buttermilk (I used 1-1/2 cups sweet milk + 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar)
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Heat oven to 275F (135C).  Grease and flour a 9x13” baking pan.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In a small bowl, mix mashed bananas with applesauce and lemon juice; set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light.  Beat in eggs very slowly, adding half at a time on medium-low speed.  Reduce speed to lowest setting and stir in vanilla.  Using lowest speed, beat in  flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with flour.  Stir in banana mixture.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 1 hour, or  until a toothpick inserted near center of cake returns clean.  (Start checking cake at 55 minutes.  Please note that the cake does not rise and the top is quite hard.  Rest assured it will soften before you eat it.)  Remove cake from oven and place (uncovered) directly into freezer for 45 minutes.  Take cold cake from freezer and frost as desired.

For cream cheese icing, in a large bowl, cream 1/4 cup softened butter (1/2 stick or 2 oz.), 1 tsp. vanilla powder (or vanilla extract) and 1-1/2 cups 10X sugar till smooth.  Cut 6 oz. cold cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese into 8 pieces.  Add one piece at a time to sugar mixture, beating well after each addition, for a total of about 8 minutes of beating.  Be sure each piece is completely incorporated and smooth before adding next piece.  This is just enough icing to frost this cake, with no leftovers. 

Frost cake; sprinkle nuts over top.  Yield:  one 9x13 cake
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8 comments:

sweetie said...

wow, judy, i'm so surprised that even with your substitutions it received raves!! good to know! do you think the magic of this cake is in the baking method itself??

Judy said...

Sweetie, The low oven heat followed by the super-quick cooling of the freezer do something that is magic to this cake. This is one recipe that everyone should try. I've become a banana cake fan, something that I thought would be impossible.

Barbara Bakes said...

I've made tons of banana bread, but I don't think I've ever had banana cake. It sounds like I've really been missing out.

Katrina said...

Banana anything is good to me. We just made a banana cake with TWD last week. So versatile and moist and good. Yours looks divine.

Juliana said...

Judy, your banana cake sure looks awesome...since we always have banana around, next time will give your recipe a try :-)

MargoPego said...

Yummers! This looks absolutely scrummy! I'm going to try it, & I'm also going to try your homemade vanilla & other things I see here. I'm definitely going to follow this blog & subscribe. Yummers!

sparkedillusion said...

Hi Judy! I would love to try this recipe this weekend!
Can i ask, is unbleached AP flour = plain flour? Im not sure if my AP flour is bleached or not- any way to check?

And can i substitute the whole wheat flour for AP or plain flour?

Judy said...

Hi Sparked Illusion, First, check your flour bag. It should say whether it's bleached or unbleached, right on the front of the bag. There is no such thing as plain flour -- it's really important to understand the flour you use. I did substitute white whole wheat flour for half of the flour in this recipe. If you want to use all whole wheat, you can give it a try but it may be a bit heavier. White whole wheat is a good choice because it's a softer wheat and a bit lighter than regular whole wheat. Hope this makes sense to you. If not, let me know.