~ She's Gone Bananas: Banana-Walnut Bundt Cake ~
How many bananas can a gal put into a bundt cake? Every time I bake this banana cake, I push the envelope a little farther, and, today I used the entire bunch. Six bananas. It yielded a total of 3 cups mashed bananas, and, the recipe, which started out using 1 3/4-2 cups, came out super-moist and full-flavored -- just perfect. Often times, this is how recipes are developed or improved upon (by trial, error and gutsy experimentation). That said, me thinks I'll stop improving this one.
The original recipe came from my mother's recipe box and I'm pretty certain she got it from her mother. Why? Because my grandmother, a woman who cooked her way through the depression, used oil instead of butter to bake most of her cakes (even after the depression, she still used oil). If you're thinking oil is a compromise, you're wrong. It makes for a very moist cake. My mom made banana cake often because dad loved bananas and all things bananas. Mom made it in a 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan, so, if you'd rather a sheet cake than a bundt cake, it will work just fine.
Rather make a sheet cake? Bake it in a 13" x 9" x 2" pan.
2 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, lightly toasted (total throughout recipe, 2 cups for the cake + 1 cup for the topping)
2 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 3/4-3 cups mashed banana purée (from 5-6 large, very ripe, peeled and sliced bananas)
2 teaspoons pure banana extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup vegetable oil
no-stick cooking spray, for preparing bundt pan
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, very soft
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons butter-rum flavoring
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk, plus 1-2 teaspoons more, if necessary
1/2 cup lightly-toasted and finely-ground walnuts
~Step 1. Coarsely chop the walnuts. Place nuts in a small, shallow baking pan. Roast nuts on center rack of 350° oven, until fragrant and lightly-toasted, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. While nuts are toasting, in a medium mixing bowl, on medium speed of hand-held electric mixer, purée the sliced bananas.* Measure 3 cups of the bananas, then add and stir both extracts into the bananas. Set aside. In a small bowl, using a fork, whisk the eggs.
*Note: Bananas don't need to be a smooth purée. Small bits of fruit laced throughout is perfect.
~Step 2. In a large bowl, using a large rubber spatula, place and stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the beaten eggs, followed by the banana purée, then, using the spatula fold the mixture together until roughly moistened. On medium-high speed of hand-held electric mixer, add and thoroughly incorporate the vegetable oil, about 1 minute.
~ Step 3. Using the rubber spatula, fold in 2 cups of the lightly-toasted chopped walnuts (set the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts aside and use as directed below). Transfer/pour batter into a 12-cup bundt pan that has been lightly sprayed with no-stick. Bake on center rack of preheated 350° oven 55-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven, place on a wire rack and cool, in pan, 15 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack to cool completely, 2-3 hours.
~Step 1. To prepare the cream cheese glaze and pecan topping, if you have a small, "mini" food processor, now is the time to use it. Place the remaining 1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts in the work bowl and using a series of 25-30 rapid on-off pulses, process them to small bits and pieces.
~Step 2. In a food processor fitted with steel blade, place confectioners' sugar, cream cheese, banana and vanilla extracts and 2 tablespoon milk. Starting with 5-10 on-off pulses and then with the motor running, process for 25-30 seconds until smooth and drizzly. If necessary, through feed tube, add 1-2 teaspoons additional milk, until desired consistency is reached.
~ Step 3. When the cake has cooled completely, and with the cake still sitting on the wire rack: holding your hand 4"-6" above the surface of the cake and moving it (your hand) back and forth, in a slow, steady, stream, drizzle the glaze over the cake, while turning the wire rack about 1/4" with every back-and-forth drizzle, until all the glaze is gone. While glaze is still moist/sticky, sprinkle the nuts evenly over the top. Allow glaze to harden a bit prior to slicing cake, 1-2 hours.
Go bananas. Banana-walnut bundt cake. Simply irresistible...
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; small baking pan; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 2-cup measuring container; 1-cup measuring container; fork; whisk; 12-cup bundt pan; wire cooling rack; cake tester; mini-food processor; food processor
Cook's Note: For another "fruity" cake recipe, this one containing pineapple, bananas and aromatic spices (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg), check of my recipe for ~ Charmingly Southern: Hummingbird (Bundt) Cake ~. Originating in Jamaica, this cake has got a fascinating history worth reading.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)