This is another one of those cakes that you make when you're staring at a couple of bananas in your kitchen that are about to blow. It's also one of those really easy self-saucing comfort food cakes that remind us that baking is sometimes like a crazy science experiment. These recipes have two basic components: a cake batter and then a liquid topping that sits on top of the batter. As the cake bakes, the liquid gets absorbed into the cake but also somehow produces a sauce on the bottom. Weird, I know.
Along with our very ripe bananas, this cake has all the usual elements as well as quite a lot of leavening to help make all the magic work. I browned the butter for added flavor, which I think goes nicely with the whole mixture. My liquid concoction includes ingredients that love to hang out with bananas - brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, a pat of butter for richness and just a few grains of salt to coax out every inch of flavor.
The cake smells great as it's baking. I served it with some caramel ice cream. Vanilla, of course, is always welcome.
- Bananas should be very ripe. You know the ones!
- Browning butter takes just a couple of minutes with this small quantity. Here are some tips: 1) Use a stainless steel pan so you can best gauge the color of the butter as it starts to brown. 2) Cut the butter into small uniform pieces so it melts consistently without spot scorching. 3) I use medium heat. As the butter starts to melt and heat up, you'll notice small bubbles on the surface that get larger. At this point, lift the pan off the heat and swirl the butter. Put it back on the heat and lift the pan repeatedly to control the cooking. You'll notice the milk solids starting to brown on the bottom of the pan very quickly. Keep your eyes on this and keep swirling because it will be done very quickly after you notice the first brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Stop when you think it's almost there and it just begins to smoke a bit. It will continue to brown. 4) Have a small heatproof bowl near the stove so you can immediately pour off the butter when it's done. I use a clear Pyrex custard cup so I can see the color. Set aside to cool. 5) When adding the browned butter to the rest of the ingredients, use a rubber spatula to scrape in all the brown bits.
- If you've gone too far with the butter, it will look very dark and taste bitter, so you'll have to start over again. You're looking for a medium brown butter.
- I meant to add a tablespoon of brandy or rum to the liquid topping but I forgot. It might be something you want to try to deepen the flavor.
Banana Sauce Cake
Serves 10 - 12
2 oz (4 T) butter, browned
2 ripe bananas
1 C flour
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 T dark brown sugar, packed
1 3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 C milk
1 t vanilla
1 C water
1/3 C dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 T molasses
1 T butter
1/4 t cinnamon
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8" square glass baking dish. Slice one of the bananas and distribute on the bottom of the pan.
Brown the butter and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, granulated and brown sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, whisk the egg. Whisk in the milk and vanilla. Add the browned butter and combine thoroughly. Mash the banana into the liquid mixture using a fork and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients and use the fork to mix until you don't see any streaks of flour. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and over the sliced bananas. Gently spread the batter to the edges.
For the topping, place the water, brown sugar, molasses and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in the spices and boil for a minute until the mixture is fully blended. Take off the heat and carefully pour over the cake batter. Do not stir or mix in the liquid in any way. The liquid should just sit on top of the cake batter.
Bake the cake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched. Serve warm.