Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Banana makes baked goods so tasty and moist, but I never quite know what I’m supposed to do with its usual manifestation, banana bread. It seems too sweet for a snack or a meal component, but not, well, desserty enough for dessert. Banana cake, though, is something I can get on board with, especially when it takes just 10 minutes to stir together. This beautifully simple recipe from Hogwash results in something magical: not overly sweet (not much sweeter than some banana breads, really) but with the springy, tender crumb structure of cake, which makes it undeniably dessert. I have a fancy banana cake I bake for A’s birthday, with rum and brown sugar and chocolate ganache, but this is an everyday cake, lightened by buttermilk and mellowed by cardamom (I’ll admit that as a cardamom obsessive I expected more of an overtly cardamom taste, but it plays more of a supporting role here and that’s OK—either that or my cardamom is getting old and weak), needing no frosting or other accompaniment (although you could gussy it up with whipped cream if you wanted to). And did I mention it’s incredibly, incredibly easy to make? You could whip this up on the spur of the moment if you had unexpected company, or, like me, you could just throw it together on a Tuesday night when the craving for cake hits you. I have a feeling that craving will now be striking fairly often, so I’d better stock up on ripe bananas.

Vegetable oil spray
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon salt
2 very ripe bananas, well mashed
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with the vegetable oil spray and set aside.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt together into a mixing bowl and set aside.

3. Mash the bananas in the bottom of another mixing bowl. Add the sugar, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla, and whisk until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and the oil, and gently fold the batter together with a spatula, just until no dry spots remain.

4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake the cake on the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned at the edges and just barely beginning to crack in the center.

5. When the cake is done, let it cool for about 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge. Using oven mitts, place a cooling rack on top of the cake pan and flip the cake and the rack together. Remove the cake pan, so the cake is upside-down on the rack. Place a serving plate upside-down on the bottom of the cake, and flip the plate and the rack together, so the cake is now right side-up on the serving plate.

Serves: 8
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Good. We stored ours in the fridge for about three days and it was good even when eaten cold.

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