Caramel Banana Cake

This goes out to my sister from another mister, Ashley!

I saw this recipe for Caramel Banana Cake awhile back and was fiending to make it. Caramel is not my favorite but it looked so beautiful swirled into a banana cake. Always open to new ideas- and maybe the banana would tone down the caramel. Now. I just needed a reason to make the cake.

As fate would have it, Ashely's birthday was coming up. She's the dear friend I visited in Costa Rica when volunteering with Peace Corps.  Lord that is a terrible early post- I was determined to focus solely on food and not life which is impossible as the two are intertwined. I should have told you about the beautiful mountains, green forests, bumpy roads, and late night conversations on a random hammock in front of the midnight sea. If you ever have the good fortune of meeting Ashley, it will leave an imprint on your heart. She is one of the easiest people to talk to and can find the silver lining in any situation- or at least make you laugh at how god d@mn awful it is. 

That being said. I sent an innocent text asking if she liked bananas and caramel. She knows me too well.

Sqrl: Do u like bananas and caramel?

Ashely: 2 of my favorites!! yay!

Sqrl: Moo hahaha

Ashley: Sounds like an edible michele milagro's comin on!!

Seriously, It was a bit of a milagro (miracle) that this came out right at all. I was fumbling the ball in the kitchen pretty bad! I tried to cheat and skimp out on making the caramel sauce that is swirled into the cake. Substituted it with the "caramel topping" (the stuff they put on sundaes) used in the frosting. That was a mistake. 

The cake is on the thicker side of the spectrum due to the mashed bananas. This is meant to help the caramel keep its design. Look at the cake above... do you see a beautiful swirl? Negative. That's because caramel topping is a LOT heavier than caramel sauce. Slick.

The other negative of using the caramel topping instead of sauce is again... it's heavier. It sunk slowly- but not entirely- to the bottom of the pan. This is where I was ready to spasm because I did not line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. When it came to flip the cake... it was gooey and sticking to the pan. Note the texture in the above photo of my poor cake. That is now how it's supposed to look like.  LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES!

At this point I was ready to walk away from the cake. There are very few things I get type A about... birthday cakes are one of them. Took a few minutes to cool down and returned to Kitchen Stadium.  Nothing a little frosting and good intentions couldn't hurt.

Patched down the sticky parts of the cake with the back of a spatula and whipped up the frosting. Did the crumb coat and my best to to make the sides pretty. Added sugar pearls around the bottom. Okay... getting better.

There was leftover cake in the pan- it was mostly caramel topping- and I tried to do something with it. The result was this little cake balls adorning the cake. Sprinkled the top lightly with powdered sugar and voila... the birthday cake was complete.

So it looks cute. But how does it taste? Well. The cake itself is not light and fluffy- it's got a lil substance thanks to the banana but it's not bread like. Pretty nice balance. The frosting is not necessary, I think it's sweet enough with the caramel sauce mixed in but it does add a nice touch. Overall, it was mighty tasty and a well paired combination of flavors. I just wish I hadn't been lazy and made the caramel sauce to get that beautiful marble effect. Another day!


PS. When serving, feel free to drizzle some of the leftover caramel sauce on top.

Caramel Banana Cake
from the kitchn

Banana Cake

3/4 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1 1/2 cups caramel sauce (see below or use store bought)

Caramel Sauce

1 cup cream
3/4's cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup water
pinch of salt
1/8 cup unsalted butter

Heat oven to 325ºF. Grease 2 9-inch layers cake pans.

Make the caramel sauce first, just to get it out of the way or make it ahead of time. Warm the cream in a small saucepan over low to medium heat. While it's warming, add the sugar and water to a large, heavy, high-sided pan over high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then leave it alone to boil until it reaches a deep amber color. You are looking for a dark caramel here, because you will be adding cream, so don't flinch and take it off the heat when it's still just pale gold!

Remove from heat and whisk in the cream. Be very careful and add the cream slowly - the caramel is going to bubble up! Add the pinch of salt and butter and whisk smooth. Simmer until slightly reduced. This will keep in the fridge for at least two weeks.

Now the cake. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy then add the eggs and beat until silky and lightened. Sift the flour with the baking soda and salt.

Whisk the milk and mashed bananas in a separate measuring cup and add to the eggs and butter, alternating with the flour. Beat just until smooth.

Pour batter into the prepared pans. Pour half the caramel sauce into each pan, and swirl with a knife. The pans will be quite full. Put in the oven carefully and bake for about 60 minutes, or until the centers are set and a knife comes out clean.

Cool completely before serving.

Caramel Buttercream 
from I am Baker

4 cups powder sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 tablespoon caramel topping (Hershey's or steal some of the caramel sauce from above)
1-6 tablespoons of milk to reach desired consistency

Cream shortening, milk, and caramel together on low speed and slowly add in sugar until fully incorporated.