I have to say, my friends and family just simply LOVE bananas! In fact, you could even say that they go BANANAS for them!! Now, I’ve always been somewhat of a banana purist myself. The thought of defiling a beautiful banana with any unnecessary additions seems like a sin against deliciousness. A banana split? I’ll take mine minus the split, thank you very much. So, as you can imagine, I was somewhat skeptical when one of my dearest girlfriends Martha told me I had to try banana cake. If it had been anyone other than her, I would have thanked them kindly, and then gone home and permanently removed them from my Christmas card list for ever suggesting such a culinary abortion. But this was Martha, and she has always had exquisite taste (she was the one, after all, that turned me onto Mary Higgins Clark) – so I thought I might as well give it a shot.
My first attempt at banana cake was a disaster, and I should have expected as much. It was doomed from the start, as I mistakenly decided to employ the use of Satan’s instrument – the internet. Now Pastor Mike has repeatedly reassured me that the internet is not only for the homosexuals and Presbyterians, so I have made it one of my New Years resolutions to start using it more (along with losing a couple pounds in my mid section and trying to stop giggling at church). I searched online for a recipe that looked appetizing, and found a seemingly good one on the Food Network website. The recipe was one of Paula Deen's, and though I firmly believe that if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all – I have to say that this recipe was just the worst! I don’t know why I was surprised. That woman’s love of mayonnaise errs on the side of inappropriate. The cake was hard and chewy, and simply not bananany enough. After one bite, I threw the whole cake in the trash can. You should have seen the looks on my children’s faces. They really shouldn’t have been surprised though - I demand perfection from them as I do myself. Why, I would have done the same thing if they brought home a report card that was any less than straight A+’s – right in the trashcan it would go.
I immediately rang Martha, and in the nicest tone possible suggested that she was going straight to hell for wasting my time with such a terrible suggestion. Yearning to redeem herself, she said she would drop off the recipe she used post haste. One for forgiveness, I decided to give both Martha, and banana cake a second chance. The next morning, she dropped off a cookbook called “The Weekend Baker,” by Abigail Johnson Dodge. Although I found the pictures in the book to be garish and a bit flashy for my liking, Johnson Dodge’s anecdotes about her husband and children warmed me up. I found the book marked recipe and for banana cake, and banana cake – take two – was under way!!
The recipe was – well – a PIECE OF CAKE to follow!! And a lot of fun too! One fun suggestion Johnson Dodge recommends is using sour cream in her vanilla frosting instead of cream cheese to give it a tangy zing. And tangy it was! Well played Abigail! One little addition I would like to recommend is to thinly slicing a banana after frosting the cake, and use the slices to decorate the top. I put rings of banana in concentric circles on top, and it was just simply adorable. It’s the little things like this that make my husband love me.
Banana layer cake
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
Tangy vanilla frosting
16 tbsp butter, at room temperature
We used the vanilla frosting, but this fudgy frosting is especially fantastic, so we'll include this alternative too.
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Meanwhile, combine everything else in a blender. When the chocolate is melted, remove it from heat, stir, and scrape into the blender Blend until the mixture is very thick (not pourable), about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool, then frost the cake as above.