I think I would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a favorite recipe for banana bread or knows of a bakery that offers a great alternative to home baked. Unless of course you are not a lover of bananas; in which case you’re probably looking up toward your browser’s tool bar right about now.
Bananas are a staple in my house, and it seems my kitchen fruit basket is never without a couple of ripe ones begging to be used in some way. As a result, bananas find their way into various smoothies and snack cakes when they get to that overly-spotty point of ripeness. But when I purposely set out to bake with bananas, I actually have to plan for it ahead of time. Allowing the bananas to ripen for the sole purpose of baking with them is so worthwhile; it makes the end result more earnest somehow.
You know, I am quite taken by the humble, ripened banana. Think about it. It is one of a very select group of over-ripened fruits that actually gets a second chance to make a big impression. And in this recipe, it does just that. Looking at the ingredients, you can see the familiarity. But when you actually taste this cake, you’ll see it’s anything but redundant. Customary sweet banana cake flavor with an unexpected swirl of nutmeg-spiked cream cheese and topped with melted butter sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. It’s the banana bread equivalent of the Cinderella experience. You can’t help but love her. And she’s definitely got her party shoes on. But to really get the full effect of her charm, you need to let her dance on your palate.
Banana Brunch Cake
Recipe from Dining By Design: Stylish Recipes-Savory Settings
Yield: 12 to 16 servings
For the cake:
Nonstick cooking spray
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium-sized ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup chopped pecans
For the topping:
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 defrees F. Coat a 10-inch tube or bundt pan with the cooking spray.
Combine the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon of the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the nutmeg in a medium bowl. Beat until smooth. Add 1 of the eggs, beating to mix.
Cream 1/2 cup softened butter in a large bowl, gradually adding 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat well. Add the remaining 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk the baking soda and hot water in a small measuring cup. Mix into the butter mixture.
Combine the remaining 3 cups flour, the baking powder, salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl. Mix, alternating with the orange juice, into the butter mixture. Mix in the vanilla, bananas and pecans.
Spoon 1 1/2 to 2 cups of batter into the tube pan and make a slight well in the center. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the banana batter. Spoon the remaining banana batter over the cream cheese mixture.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Brush with the melted butter. Mix together 1 tablespoon sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over the cake.