This banana cake with cream cheese icing quite frankly is the banana cake to end all banana cakes. You won't have to find another as good and the very unusual method of making this cake is part of the reason why it is so good!
It was a few years ago that I visited my sister Blythe when she lived in Chicago. Actually, it's a lot of years ago, and I remember the trip with some measure of hazy horror when I experienced the cold. North Americans and Europeans are probably guffawing at me right now because Australians, well we don't know cold at all. For us, temperatures of anything below 18°C/64°F are "freezing". It was just after I had finished university and with the buoyant confidence of youth, I went to Chicago during the depths of winter.
I discovered something new about myself then. I found out that when I experience -16°C/3.2°F windchill then my body stops working. Walking a short distance in that cold meant that I stopped breathing for a bit. I ran into the warmth of a building gulping big lots of air. I was a fish out of water really.
My sister is fine with the cold (another instance where we are total opposites). But we had to do things like run errands and do grocery shopping. Of course the supermarkets overseas are a fun place to shop and in America, things are truly mind boggling. I remember coming across one item in the freezer. I peered into the freezer door as it caught my eye. I opened the door, wiped the ice off the front of the box and held it like a newborn. I'm almost embarrassed to tell you what it was but it was a Sara Lee Sultana Pound Cake - the low fat version.
As much as I love home baked or boutique stuff, that pound cake is one of my secret shames. Give me one and I'll disappear into a room or a corner with a fork and I'm going to admit another horror but I have also been known to eat this treat half thawed out. Yep that's how bad I am, I can't even wait for it to thaw out. I actually like how cold it is and I'm not sure why.
Anyway, this isn't a recipe for the sultana cake but the other Sara Lee item (not sponsored trust me they wouldn't want me writing this) that I also like is the Banana Cake. And it was when a friend put me onto a crazy delicious banana cake recipe by Happy Hooligans that I knew that my rapidly ripening bananas had a new role to play. This banana cake.
There are two main things about this recipe that will stand out to you: the oven temperature is really low at 135°C/275°F and then the cake is frozen straight after baking. This make the whole thing wonderfully moist and moreish and quite possibly, no definitely the best banana cake you've eaten. It has tones of the Sara Lee banana cake without any numbers or emulsifiers and that weird mouthfeel etc. And that's why I decided to choose it for the next Cook With Me challenge! Because I hope that you will love this cake as much as I do!
With the Cook with Me challenge, all you have to do is try out the recipe, upload it to social media (instagram, twitter or my facebook page) and tag me with #cookwithmenqn for your chance to win one of three cookbooks from a range of cookbooks! Entries close on the 21st of September, 2015! The next cook with me will be a savoury one as suggested by Dear Reader Belinda.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you have any secret food confessions? Confess it anonymously if you have to ;) Do you ever buy ready made cakes or do you tend to bake them yourself? And have you ever baked a cake at such a low temperature?
The Crazy Very Best Banana Cake
Adapted from Happy Hooligans
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours plus 1 hour in the freezer
- 1.5 cups very ripe bananas
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3 cups cake flour*
- 1.5 teaspoons bicarb soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 170g or 3/4 cup softened butter
- 2 cups caster or superfine sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1.5 cups buttermilk*
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 250g/0.5lb. cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3.5 cups icing sugar, sifted
*To make 1 cup of cake flour, place 2 tablespoons of cornstarch/cornflour in a measuring jug and top up to the 1 cup level with all purpose flour.
*If you don't have buttermilk, add two teaspoons of lemon juice to 1.5 cups of milk.
You will also need room in your freezer to fit the cake tin. This is always an issue for me since I have so much in the freezer!
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 135C/275F (yes, this isn't a typo, it's a very low temperature). I made this in a 20x20 or 8x8inch square tin. You can also do this in a 9x13inch pan where the cake will be flatter but won't take as long to cook. Mash the bananas with the lemon juice and set aside. Whisk the flour, bicarb and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Step 2 - Beat the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes and then add the eggs one at a time and add the vanilla. Then on the slowest speed add the flour mixture, bananas and buttermilk in alternating goes. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 1.5-2 hours (depending on the pan that you've used).
Step 3 - Once it comes out of the oven, place it straight into the freezer. You can cover it with a folded over tea towel if you are worried about your freezer temperature dropping and spoiling the other items. Place in the freezer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from freezer and cool completely.
Step 4 - While it is in the freezer, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Then on low speed add the vanilla and the sifted icing sugar until it makes a smooth frosting. When the cake is cool, add the frosting.