Monday, October 29, 2012

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I always end up with overripe bananas on my countertops.  Bananas are so cheap and so good, but the moment they start getting brown spots, I'm no longer interested in eating them raw.  They quickly go from perfectly ripe to overripe and my kitchen is taken over by the aroma of too-sweet overripe bananas.  Normally I either place the whole, peeled bananas in the freezer for a future batch of banana bread or I just make a loaf of banana bread right then and there.

As much as I love my banana bread recipe, I wanted to mix it up a bit.  I saw The Barefoot Contessa feature this banana cake on her show, so I gave the recipe a try.  It worked out pretty well, but I did make some adjustments to the icing.  I also had a problem with the center of my cake sinking, but it was still baked through and tasted great.

As much as I love cake, I'm not a huge fan of icing, which is why I shy away from elaborate layered cakes with mountains of sugary topping.  This cake was really easy to assemble and I liked the tangy sweetness of the cream cheese icing.

Oh, and the leftovers were great with coffee at breakfast the next morning.  Banana cake... banana bread... not much difference!

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted (slightly) from The Barefoot Contessa

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Walnut halves, for decorating 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the bananas, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on low speed until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts, if using. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, turn out onto a cooling rack, and cool completely.

Spread the frosting thickly on the top of the cake and decorate with walnut halves.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (1/2 pound)

Make sure the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature and the powdered sugar is sifted before you start.  This will ensure a smooth frosting with no lumps.

Mix the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until just combined. Don't whip! Add the sugar and mix until smooth. 

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