Eric Akis: Banana bonanza? Make a frosted banana snacking cake

Eric Akis

My wife and I regularly keep bananas in our fruit bowl but ran out of them early last week. We both noticed and, oops, we both ended up buying them.

We went from having no bananas to having too many. In this situation, there is really only one thing to do: make a lovely banana cake with the fruit that’s starting to become overripe.

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I made a “snacking” cake. It’s called that because it’s baked in a 13-by-9-inch pan, cooled, frosted, then cut into squares you can snack on with a cup of tea or coffee or glass of milk.

If that size of cake is too big, do what I did and share some with your neighbours. They’ll be happy to receive something home-baked.

Any leftover squares of cake can also be individually wrapped and frozen, ready to thaw and enjoy when you feel like a treat.

I fancied up my cake by mixing bits of coarsely chopped chocolate and pecan pieces into the batter, which was also flavoured with vanilla and nutmeg. The frosting, like the cake, is flavoured with banana.

The cake batter calls for 1/2 cup buttermilk, which you can now buy in smaller 500-millilitre containers. You’ll still have some left over, of course. But you can use it in mashed potatoes, salad dressings, for marinating chicken before coating it with seasoned flour and frying it, and in other baked goods, such as biscuits and cornbread.

Banana Snacking Cake with Chocolate and Pecans

This is a moist and marvellous cake you can cut into squares to snack on when you feel like a sweet treat.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 35 to 40 minutes

Makes: 12 large or 24 small servings

For the cake

• vegetable oil spray

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

100 grams dark Belgian or semi chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup pecan pieces (about 50 grams)

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 cup ripe, mashed/pureed bananas (see Note)

1/2 cup buttermilk

For the banana frosting and to serve

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

1 cup ripe, mashed/puréed bananas

3 1/2 cups icing sugar (divided)

2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup pecan pieces (about 50 grams)

Place an oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly coat an 13-by-9-inch baking pan with oil spray. Cut a 13-by-13-inch piece of parchment paper and use it to line the baking pan, pressing it against the sides to help it adhere.

Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Mix in the chopped chocolate and 1/2 cup pecan pieces.

In another bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the granulated sugar, 1/2 cup butter and vanilla until well combined. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the 1 cup mashed bananas and buttermilk. Now mix in the flour mixture until the batter is smooth.

Spoon and spread the batter into the baking pan. Bake cake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it springs back when gently touched in the centre. Cool cake on a baking rack to room temperature.

When the cake has cooled, set a rectangular cake plate large enough to hold it on top (see Eric's options). Quickly invert the pan and plate to release the cake onto the plate. Remove parchment paper from the cake.

To make the frosting, place the 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup mashed bananas, 2 cups of the icing sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and beat until thoroughly combined (see Eric’s options). Mix in the remaining icing sugar. Beat frosting a few minutes, until lightened and smooth.

Spread the frosting on the cake. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the 1/2 cup pecan pieces. Refrigerate cake to set frosting and keep it there until you are ready to serve it. When ready to serve, cut cake into squares and enjoy.

Note: Three to four ripe bananas, depending on size, should yield the amount needed in the recipe. To prepare them, I broke them into pieces and put them in the cup that came with my immersion (hand) blender. I then used that blender to mash/purée the bananas.

Eric’s options: If you don’t have a rectangular cake plate, you could invert and set the cake on a wooden board or marble slab. If turning the cake out of the pan is too much bother, simply frost the cake in the pan and serve it from there. I like a thick layer of frosting on my cake, but if you prefer a thinner one, cut the ingredients used in the frosting in half.

Hungry Hearts raises funds for those in need

Our Place Society is holding its sixth annual Hungry Hearts fundraising gala this Saturday at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort, 100 Harbour Rd. It runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and organizers describe it as an elegant soirée featuring some of Greater Victoria’s most exquisite cuisine.

Providing that cuisine will be eight of Victoria’s top chefs, including Richard Teves from Toque Catering, Tyler Thompson from Fishhook at Mermaid Wharf and Nicolas Hipperson from the Union Club.

Attendees will be given a glass of sparkling wine and set free to stroll around and sample the delightful bites of food each chef has prepared. They can then decide which chef made the best dish and vote for them to be Hungry Hearts Top Chef.

Last year, Castro Boateng won that title and the chef/owner of a tasty new café called House of Boateng (houseofboateng.ca) will be returning to defend his title.

There will be a cash bar at the event and an auction, and beyond the food the chefs dish up, you can enjoy sweets provided by Cakes Etc. and Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut.

Tickets can be purchased online at ourplacesociety.com/events. They are $150 per person, with a charity tax receipt available for a portion.

Our Place is an inner-city community centre serving Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable: the working poor, impoverished elderly, mentally and physically challenged, addicted and the homeless. Funds raised at the Hungry Hearts event will help support the good work they do.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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