Friday, June 15, 2012

Banana Sauce Cake

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.

Bench notes:
- 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 egg
1/2 C milk
1 t vanilla

Liquid Topping
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.


Elly McCausland said...

Oh my goodness, that first photo has me SALIVATING! I've just made a wonderful banana concoction myself (blondies with brazil nuts - see below if you ever need more banana inspiration, as they're insanely good!) and am so in the mood for more banana baked goods right now! I love all the ingredients you put with them, too - this kind of sounds like heaven.

pastry studio said...

Hello, Elly! Thank you and I have to say, there can never be too much banana inspiration out there. Your Blondies look terrific. I especially like the use of a brazil nut praline in the mix. Thanks for sharing.


Karen said...

This looks incredible yet manageable to make. I was thinking Cognac would be delicious in the liquid topping. Do you think 2 Tbs would be too overpowering?

pastry studio said...

Hey, Karen, I like your style!

2 Ts would work fine, depending on your personal taste. My suggestion would be to taste it and add until you feel it's perfect. Hope you enjoy it!

SallyBR said...

I've seen this type of recipe with lemon cake, always wanted to try it, but the banana is definitely a must make! Just pinned your article... ;-)

pastry studio said...

Hello, Sally, and thanks very much for the pin! This is an easy peasy cake and if you're a banana fan, one I think you'll like.

And congrats on your blog anniversary! You, Elly and Karen have such great blogs. I just love this whole medium and the freedom and creativity it means for all of us. Here's to more tasty blog morsels!!

Hannah said...

Hi - I am craving this cake for breakfast now! I am a longtime fan of your desserts and just had to comment on this one. Wow. I adore banana cakes, and to add brown butter and a sauce on top sounds divine. Thank you!

pastry studio said...

Thanks very much to you, Hannah. I'm fast becoming a real brown butter freak. I think it really enhances a lot of pastries. Hope you enjoy this cake!!

plumbing said...

It’s best to have two different pastry brushes: one for sweets and one for savoury.

Barbara said...

Super recipe! Kind of like a banana pudding-cake. Clever to team it with caramel ice cream. Is it your recipe?
I'm into the brown butter thing too...saw some Thousand Layer-Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies online that are totally intriguing, and I'm not even a cc cookie lover. :)

Mimi Lou said...

This looks so good. I love baking but cannot have everything too sweet. Most of the time, I only put in half the sugar from the recipe. This is so easy to make. Thank you!

Gina said...

This cake was delicious!! I had some bananas to use up, and it was a welcome change from banana bread!

pastry studio said...

Hey, Gina! Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate the feedback. I'm so pleased you enjoyed this alternative!

Bryan said...

i agree with Gina, there's only so much banana bread-- as wonderful as it is-- that you can make.
i've really been enjoying these sauce cakes. i halved this and baked a 6" round.

i have to say the molasses really gives this dessert an adult-- or mature? elevated? i'm still thinking about how to describe it-- quality.
i'm a big fan of banana and nutmeg so i included some here.
and i lucked out by recently finding a canister of mace blades and grated some in too. good stuff.
thanks for a good one here.

pastry studio said...

Bryan, always appreciate your creativity with these recipes. The molasses was a whim after I'd thought about how much it changed another dessert I'm working on for the better. It's an unmistakable ingredient that, depending on how you pair it, can really add some depth and warmth.

Lovely addition of mace. Kudos!

Emma.Elisabeth said...

Thank you so much for all your amazing recipes.
It always brightens my day to find something new and delicious to try.

I have a quick question, I usually freeze my bananas once they get that ripe. Would I be able to substitute frozen bananas (as you can do in banana bread) or should you only use fresh (ripe) bananas?

Thank you so much!

pastry studio said...

Hello, Emma, and welcome. You ask a great question! I've never frozen bananas before (weird, I know!) but if you use them successfully in banana bread, I don't see why they wouldn't work in this cake. Let me know if you try it!

Elly McCausland said...

So I finally got round to making this wonderful cake! It was every bit as gooey, sweet and delicious as I'd hoped. It's on my blog if you want to see my version - nowhere near as pretty as yours and definitely presented with far less elegance, but still delicious! (Also, I called it a pudding. Because I really needed something called 'pudding' in my life when I baked it!) Thank you so much for sharing this with the world!

pastry studio said...

Elly, thanks a million for your post. Your cake looks scrumptious and a welcome respite in your very hectic life. Hope it provided some comfort! Take good care.