I baked a cake today during the baby’s nap — she’s still a baby, even if she’s almost two and is picking up more and more words every day; still a baby for at least another six months, please — and it was a luxurious 15 minutes of assembling the batter. Though I did realize I forgot to add the sugar just after I’d slid the pan of batter into the oven (groan). Fortunately was able to rescue it and quickly stir it in before the cake had really started baking. I do love to have the little ones help but sometimes it’s nice to just do it myself. This is a banana cake destined for a party tomorrow, a recipe I haven’t made in awhile but one which I first used almost four years ago in Casablanca when bananas ripened on my counter seemingly in seconds. The original recipe I’ve made as muffins or a loaf but today I decided to do it as a 9-inch cake round and topped it with (unfortunately a bit too sweet) chocolate frosting. I cheaped out and bought the Woolworth’s brand dark chocolate chips instead of the Lindt 78% dark chocolate and I regret it, but I’m hoping a stint in the fridge overnight will mellow the sweetness a bit.
Oh. I see the last time I posted here I also wrote about a banana loaf — I guess bananas are in heavy rotation around here. This time, and I’ll be perfectly honest, the reason I made a banana cake is because Elsie got her hands on the lovely fresh banana bunch I’d just bought and somehow managed to partially open each one (perhaps she’s a baby no longer …). Not being one to waste food I mashed them into this sturdy, brown butter, cardamom-scented cake.
We went to Maine two weeks ago, with a few extra-hot days in Washington before that, and I was finally able to introduce my girls to the land of Burt Dow, Sal, her blueberries, and that one lovely morning. We splashed in the chilly Atlantic at Reid State Park and sat by the Kennebec River. It was a brief trip, too brief, really, as we do truly love Maine. We arrived home to rain and wintry weather, just in time to pack up our house and mentally prepare for our move back to California in a month. (Yep, we’re moving again, to Northern California. One last epic plane flight, a serious house hunting endeavor, and we are grounding ourselves for the near-term and possibly long-term future.)
So with yet another move on the horizon I’m whittling down the pantry. Trying to use up the spices and flour and such. I’m making progress and I imagine more cakes like this one will be forthcoming as the days slip by. We’ll miss Australia but it will be good to be home, too.
Use very dark chocolate for the frosting, the good stuff if you can because it makes a difference. Alternatively you could whip plain cream cheese with a little bit of honey and use that as the frosting.
Makes 10 servings.
6 ounces unsalted butter, melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter
2 cups spelt or wholemeal flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)
2 teaspoons maple syrup
3 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup chopped bitter/semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1/2-1 cup powdered sugar
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter and line with a round of parchment paper.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Butter will begin to foam and crackle as it melts. When the crackling subsides, the butter will begin to brown. Swirl the pan as the butter cooks. When the butter browns and begins to smell nutty, remove the pan from the flame and transfer the butter to a small bowl. Taking the butter out of the hot saucepan will stop the butter from overcooking and burning. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, and yogurt. Whisk in the mashed bananas and maple syrup. When butter has cooled, whisk in the browned butter.
Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When cake is cooled, make frosting. In a large bowl using an electric beater, whip the butter. Add the chocolate and sugar a 1/2 cup at a time, continuing to beat until a creamy frosting forms. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if you wish. Frost the top of the cake with the frosting.