This makes number three in my unofficial series of little banana cakes. If you ask me they are some of my best recipes, and some of my most popular, too. I’d place all three of them on my all time favorites list. The first one, banana poppy seed cake, was loaded with poppy seeds and topped with a thick swath of vanilla bean frosting, and I can still remember how difficult it was to photograph without diving into it. The second was the one with the Nutella buttercream. That one just speaks for itself.
But this one might just be my favorite of the favorites. There is something about the combination of the caramel frosting and the banana walnut cake that just belongs together. It’s not like you taste the cake, and then the frosting, in this case it all hits you at once. And it’s a beautiful thing.
I touched off a firestorm on facebook the other day when I asked for caramel frosting ideas. The recipe that came closest to what I was looking for was a Paula Deen recipe, and I mentioned that I didn’t want to ‘go there’. Well, the Paula Deen fans came down on me pretty hard. I guess facebook isn’t the best place to try to say something, no matter how casually, about a politically charged issue and expect to get away unscathed. But just for the record, I think public figures wield a lot of power in our society, and I think it’s only natural that they get scrutinized pretty closely. Yes we’re all human, we have the right, thankfully, to say what we want and feel what we feel, but public figures should represent the best in us, after all, they get some pretty nice perks. Fame is a democratic process, and I guess public opinion will have the final say in what happens. In the end, I did adapt her recipe, because nobody knows caramel frosting better than Paula, but I’m glad to live in a world where this stuff matters.
Anyway, back to an easier topic, like cake. I have a lot of recipes under my belt at this point, and I can confidently say that this is one of the best. The subtle caramel icing complements the rich banana cake perfectly. Don’t forget the walnuts, they add that special touch. I’m going to file this one under ‘fall’, too, because it has that feel about it.
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 large egg
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed (I ended up with about a cup after a thorough mashing)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (make this a heaping 1/2 cup, measured after chopping)
- 5 Tbsp butter
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 8 oz (about 1/2 a box) confectioner’s sugar
- pinch of salt
- Set oven to 350F
- Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the sour cream and the egg.
- Mash the bananas with the back of a fork. Make sure to get the little lumps out. Add the bananas and the vanilla to the butter and sugar and blend well.
- Sift the flour, salt and baking soda and add to the batter. Stir just until combined. Fold in the nuts.
- Spread the batter into an 8x8 or 9x9 square baking pan that's been sprayed with oil or lined with parchment paper with overlapping ends. The paper will help you remove the cake from the pan for neater cutting.
- Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out without wet batter clinging to it. (It will still be moist)
- Let cool before frosting.
- To make the frosting, heat the butter and sugar in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Take off the heat and add the heavy cream, vanilla and salt.
- Beat in the powdered sugar, and continue beating on high until the frosting is thick and glossy. Add a little more cream if it seems too thick, and a little more sugar if it seems too thin.
- Spread thickly on the cooled banana cake.
I don’t avoid fancy layer cakes on purpose, but I find myself always coming back to these homey snack style cakes, they seem so much more manageable, and there’s none of that nagging guilt
While I was on the treadmill working off my ‘test’ piece of cake, my bichon Teddy somehow jumped up high enough to knock down the entire cake and eat a good bit of it before I heard the clunk. He’s never done that before. I salvaged one piece that I’m pretty sure he didn’t lick. I’m going to save it for breakfast. Bummer.