The fall and winter usher in short days, rainy mornings, blustery winds, and a million reasons to bake with wild abandon. In addition to a few savory and sweet breads, there was a cake that popped up around these parts not too long ago. It was inspired by two bags of bananas in the back of the freezer, plus the desire to re-make an addictive caramel sauce from last year. Although I am in no way a fan of raw bananas, I often find myself baking or simply eating banana bread, banana muffins, banana cake, etc. Their flavor changes after a long stint in the oven, and they also create a product that is always moist, appropriately dense and somewhat nutritious. If you ignore all of the sugar, flour and butter. This dessert combines everything you love about bananas and caramel in an upside down cake that is as pretty as it is delicious.
There are few people who would push away a slice of upside down cake. Perhaps it’s the way the fruit browns and sweetens at the bottom of the pan, creating a beautifully colored topping once the cake is flipped. Pineapple upside down cake may be the old-school kid on the block, but you can use a variety of fruits–fresh or frozen. This season’s best fruits like apples, pears, persimmons, figs, kumquats or even tangerines would be fantastic swap-outs for an upside down cake. Hey, why stay in the sweet lane? If you prefer savory, why not try roasted tomatoes, beets, carrots, fennel, sweet potatoes or squash in an upside down cake of some sort. There are more squash recipes coming up on this blog in the next few weeks, and now I have to make a note to play around with a squash upside down cake.
But let’s get back to bananas.
For someone who doesn’t enjoy raw bananas, I ended up with two big bunches in my freezer. They just took up valuable real estate, forcing me to continuously sort and re-arrange goods every time I added another storage bag or airtight container to the mix. Finally, I made the decision to pull out a bag and get to bakin’. The bananas are twice caramelized. First, they sizzle on the stove, and then they bake low and slow at the bottom of the cake pan. The cake batter is flavored with all of those warm spices one might expect–cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Brown sugar instead of white sugar adds a hint of molasses and contributes to the moist texture of the baked cake. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the inverted, cooled cake is drizzled with a thick caramel sauce once used with a batch of Mini Bananas Fosters Upside Down Cakes. Sorry pineapples. This time, the bananas have you beat.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium ripe bananas, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly whisked
- 2 large over ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- 2/3 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- For the caramelized bananas, melt the butter in a medium non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the bananas, and sprinkle the sugar over them. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 6-8 minutes, carefully turning them if necessary, to prevent burning. Remove from heat.
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place the bananas evenly across the bottom of the pan in a decorative, circular formation.
- In a large bowl, whisk the butter, brown sugar, eggs, and bananas until combined. Stir in the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined, then pour over the bananas. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until golden brown, and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then carefully flip onto a cake stand.
- While the cake bakes, make the caramel. Place the sugar and butter into a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Cook for approximately 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture melts completely and begins to turn light brown. Remove from heat. Slowly add the cream in a slow stream. Finally, add the cream cheese and stir until smooth. Cool for about 20 minutes.
- Drizzle the warm caramel over the cake.