Banana Cake

This cake is everything that banana bread wishes it could be. The humble loaf of banana bread longs to be beautifully presented, and not just sliced. Banana bread wishes that it could have a frosting, instead of just that little bit of butter. Banana bread hopes that it will be eaten not just for breakfast or a snack, but be consumed as a “real” dessert, after a delicious meal.

This banana cake makes all these come true. But, you can still have it for breakfast. (I won’t tell.) In fact, this cake would be the perfect end to a brunch.

Don’t be too alarmed by the frosting. I’ve altered my standard cream cheese frosting to keep some of the original feel of a slice of banana bread with cream cheese. I’ve cut back on the amounts of both butter and sugar in the recipe (I know! I used LESS butter in something!), so you get a more cream cheesy taste. I think that it works better with the not-too-sweet nature of the cake than a very sweet frosting would.

I also think that I might try adding some lemon zest to the cake itself and pair it with lemon extract in the frosting instead of standard vanilla. (If you feel like trying it, let me know how it turns out!)

Banana Cake with Pecans and Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Banana Bread recipe

serves 8 (generously)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (that’s about 3 apple bananas)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 box (8 oz.) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla or lemon extract
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare two 9″ round cake pans with non-stick spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

In the mixing bowl of your electric mixer (or a large bowl and your hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat to combine fully. For these steps, make sure you use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir until just combined. Add the bananas, yogurt, and vanilla and stir until everything is incorporated. Stir in the pecans (I did this by hand), and divide batter into the two pans. If you want to get fussy about it (which, apparently, I did!) you can use your kitchen scale to make sure each pan gets the same amount of batter. Or, you know, you can just eyeball it like a normal person would.

Bake your cakes (they will be thin) for about 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let them cool for 10 minutes in their pans, then de-pan and cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, whisk the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and whisk to combine, adding the extract just before it comes together.

Frost your cake casually, leaving the sides bare. Spread half the frosting on top of the first cake (bottom side up), and carefully place the second cake (bottom side down) on top. Top with the remaining frosting and sprinkle with nuts. Slice, and serve.

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