Banana Cake

I had an abundance of bananas over the weekend that I intentionally ignored until they were overripe so that I could test out some banana cake recipes. ban1If Banana Republic weren’t a copyrighted clothing line we could have applied as a nation… I mean that in the lightest sense, of course, in that we grow and eat so many bloody bananas. I love bananas but I like banana cake even more. I searched high and low and tested different recipes. The two recipes featured here are the best I have found so far: a banana cake with pecans cooked in a tube pan from Maida Heatter, the grand dame of American desserts and an ultra simple but absolutely delicious banana cake with olive oil from Francois Payard, the celebrated New York pastry chef and bistro owner.

Bananas used in banana cake must be very, very ripe. The ones pictured here have just turned from edible to a little mushy and black in some areas of the peel. ban3You need to peel the bananas, mash them with a fork until they look like baby food and that is the essence of the banana cake. If the mush doesn’t smell fragrant, neither will your cake. I have only attempted banana cake with these bananas (Lacatan?) and since the results were great, I haven’t tried any other types of bananas. As for the recipes, I have used those from well-known cook books as I have no intention of re-inventing the wheel. Proportions for baking are relatively well known to top cooks and since I am not a professional, why bother to attempt making a recipe from scratch. I figured I would do more of a service for MarketManila’s readers if I tested various recipes and commented only on the yummy ones.

From the Payard book, Simply Sensational Desserts, comes the recipe for “Golden Banana Cake”. ban2Ingredients include: 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/8 tsp. baking powder, pinch of baking soda, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1.5 tbsp of good olive oil, 3/4 cup sugar, 4 large eggs, 1.5 extra-ripe lacatan bananas, peeled and mashed. To cook, pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 8-9 inch loaf pan with butter and sprinkle with flour, removing excess flour. Sift together flour, baking powder and soda. In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, mix butter olive oil and sugar at low speed. Add one egg at a time and beat at a higher speed until fully mixed. Add mashed banana, add flour mixture and stop soon after. Do not over beat. Scrape the batter into prepared pan and put in oven. Bake for about 45-50 minutes until a toothpick poked in the center of the cake comes out clean. Baking time will vary according to the heat in your oven. Cool and serve. I estimated this one cake cost about P60 to make and it serves 8, or roughly P7.50 per serving (compare that to P40 at chi-chi coffee houses!). This cake was surprisingly STUNNING! It was moist, light, highly flavorful and aromatic and not excessively sweet. It did not rely on vanilla to add taste and it satisfied even the strongest craving for banana cake. This is one of my latest favorites, will definitely make this again and again.

From the Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts comes this recipe for “Banana Nut Cake” (first picture up top). Ingredients: 2 cups chopped pecans, 2.5 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 3/4 cups mashed bananas, 1/2 cup butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1.5 cups sugar, 2 eggs and 1/4 cup buttermilk (since I can’t find any here, I substituted 1/4 cup milk with 1.5 tsp of lemon juice). Preheat oven to 375. Butter and flour a 10 inch tube pan and remove excess flour. Chop nuts and add 1 tbsp flour and toss (to prevent soggy nuts after the cake is baked). Cream butter in mixer with vanilla and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. On low speed, add 1/2 of dry ingredients, then buttermilk, then remaining dry ingredients. Mix in banana mash and remove from mixer. Add nuts, mix and turn into the tube pan. Cook for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick stuck in the cake comes out clean. This cake was good, nutty, substantial and heavier than the Payard version. This would hold up well for trips, tailgates, etc. ban4Perhaps the substitution for buttermilk was noticeable in the final product. Total cost was estimated at about P160 (expensive pecans) and this would yield 14-16 generous servings or P10 per serving. This approximates the banana cakes I remember from childhood, it relies on vanilla for added flavor and nuts for substance. From this lousy final photo you can roughly see the difference in the texture and color of these two cakes. To the left is the lighter Payard cake and to the right the nuttier Heatter cake. Happy baking!


22 Responses

  1. This is really great and very easy to work on. Do you
    have a simple recipe for corn bread. I love corn bread
    specially for breakfast but I can’t find the right one.

    Keep on with a fantastic job. Thanks a lot.

    Best regards: fely barcelon

  2. I love cornbread too but don’t make it too often. Possibly because finding good coarse cornmeal here hasn’t been that easy. I will have to ask my sister for a good recipe and post it in the future.

  3. Its very yummy banana cake! Aside from baking pasta salad, its one of my favorite in cakes. More menu in baking cake please? More power.

  4. can’t wait to try the olive oil banana cake..its nice to find recipes that update classics that use locally grown produce.. Would love to see more articles or recipes using pineapple,papapyas, mangos,jackfruit,star apples, chico etc. if you have any.

  5. My husband loves banana cake especially the ones that are light and with black specks inside however when i tried baking a banana cake recipe it didn’t turned out the way he liked it. It was dense and it didn’t have black specks. I’m just wonderin’ how do you achieve the black specks inside the banana cake and how do you make it more light?

    thanks :-)

  6. @ms. foodie

    I always get those specks in my banana cake – they are due to the oxidation of bananas in the batter prior to baking. I believe the key is to use nicely overripened lakatan bananas which are not thoroughly mashed with minute lumps left for substance. The texture of the cake depends largely on your flour to fat ratio and the mixing process. More flour makes your cake denser (see the Heatter recipe). Beating your fat with sugar and eggs until fluffy yields a product with a lighter crumb because air is adequately incorporated into the batter (as exemplified by the Payard recipe). Hope these tips are of some help and that you get to bake the ideal banana cake for your hubby next time.

  7. Thanks for the recipe! Love banana cake so will definitely try these two… Questions, for the Payard recipe, if i use smaller lacatan bananas (smaller than the ones in the photo), should i use 2-3 bananas for this recipe? Thanks!

  8. Hi Marketman! I’m one of your lurkers, i really look forward to reading your blog everyday =D question, just noticed the recipe above 1.5 extra-ripe lacatan bananas, peeled and mashed., does it call for 1 1/2 cups of extra ripe bananas?

  9. Mommy S, actually I think I used 1.5 LARGE bananas mashed up, not sure what the cup equivalent was. You can just adjust as you see the batter…it is a forgiving cake in terms of proportions, but don’t overdo it on the bananas or it gets HEAVY…

  10. hi market man,
    i just stumbled on this post… question. how do you know if you’ve over beaten the batter? Can we use extra virgin olive oil or is it supposed to be just Olive oil?

  11. joylet, you actually won’t know if you have overbeaten until after you have baked and the cake is too dense or doesn’t feel right. Yes, extra=virgin olive oil is fine.

  12. hello marketman!

    i am now doing the payard recipe. it’s currently in the oven. hope it turns out well!

    thanks for sharing this. :-)

  13. i just have to check your post on banana cakes! i ate the best banana cake in a friend’s house today. the box says it’s called the banana surprise cake and it’s esp home baked for my friend’s mom on her bday… really surprising how the flavors came in! it has walnut filling and it has icing! Had to beg my friend to ask her friend where to order as it was not written on the box!

  14. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’ve been baking cupcakes for several months now, mostly choco, vanilla. I would like to try other flavors and i’m really on the look out for good recipe of banana cake. Will this recipe fit for cupcake too?

  15. some recipes call for sour cream as this makes the banana cake moist. if i dont have or run out short of sour cream, i mix into a can of or brick of cream just enough juice of dalandan (which was abundant during the christmas holiday past) until it gets to desired consistency. the cake i used this with turned out to be the moistest compared with the cake using regular sour cream or cream soured with vinegar (as a suggested substitute).

  16. Hello market man, i bake banana cakes and they are my best sellers especially during the holidays. Im just wondering if there is an equipment that i can use to mash kilos and kilos of banana? thanks.

  17. hi! id like to clarify in the golden banana cake..1.5 extra ripe lacatan bananas means 1 and a half pieces or cups? in banana nut cake, it is specified as cups..

    many thanks..

  18. noemi, yes, 1.5 pieces of large lacatan banana, overripe. But a little more or less won’t hurt much… just adjust moisture by reducing other wet ingredients if you prefer.



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