Mr. Banana Legs
When a close friend asked for a cake with banana as the featured ingredient, I was stumped. I find banana a little tough to work with. I don’t like traditional banana bread because it’s usually oily and soggy. And generally speaking its flavor doesn’t stand up well to the dominant flavor of flour in cake. The banana flavor in this cake won’t bonk you over the head, but the cake does have a creamy banana mouthfeel and pairs well with fresh banana slices. Porche Lovely tested these recipes at high altitude. She offered this about the cake: Mr. Banana Legs is a favorite among my tasters because they loved the texture. One ate three slices in one sitting! Pureeing the bananas with the liquid ingredients results in a lighter cake that doesn’t suffer the heavy, gummy fate of banana bread. And Banana Legs is like the perfect “little black dress”—you can dress it up for more formal occasions but it’s also perfect for a weekday afternoon party with friends. It’s good for breakfast or dessert.
NotesPREPARE AHEAD OF TIME: Grate the nutmeg with a rasp. Measure 1/8 teaspoon and set aside.
Alcohol-free variation: Omit the rum and vanilla extract. Substitute 2 tablespoons whole milk and the seeds from 1 vanilla bean. Whisk to combine with the liquid ingredients.
*Crunchy Feet are little pound cakes baked in small (2-ounce) brioche pans. They are so named because they have lots of toes, or ruffled edges, that get a little crunchy when they bake.
Total Timeunder 4 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Taste and Texturefruity, rich, sweet
Type of Dishcake
- Mixing bowls
- Standing mixer
- One 12-cup bundt pan, two 9-inch-round pans, or small brioche pans
- Unbleached all-purpose flour, 10 ounces (2 cups), or 10¾ ounces (2 cups + 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) at high altitude
- Potato starch, 1 tablespoon
- Turbinado sugar, 1 tablespoon
- Salt, ½ teaspoon
- Baking soda, ¼ teaspoon, or none at high altitude
- Whole nutmeg, 1
- Very ripe peeled bananas, 6 ounces (3 bananas)
- Half and half, ¾ cup, or ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons at high altitude
- Rum, 1 tablespoon
- Vanilla extract, 1½ teaspoons
- Unsalted butter, at room temperature, 6 ounces (1½ sticks)
- Extra-fine granulated sugar, 21 ounces (2¾ cups), or 19½ ounces (2¼ cups + 3 tablespoons) at high altitude
- Eggs (large), 4, or 5 at high altitude
- Egg yolks (large), 3
Preheat the oven to 350°F (conventional) or 335°F (convection). Set rack in the middle of the oven. To bake Crunchy Feet, place the oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions.
Set out the ingredients and equipment:
Sift the flour directly into a bowl on a scale for accurate measuring.
Measure the other dry ingredients into a separate mixing bowl, add the flour, and whisk for 10 seconds to blend. Set aside.
Combine the liquid ingredients in a food processor and process for 30 seconds or until smooth. Place in a separate bowl and set aside.
Measure the butter and sugar into separate bowls and set aside.
Crack the eggs and yolks into two separate bowls and set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on the lowest speed for 2 to 3 minutes. The mixture should look white, fluffy, and aerated.
With the mixer still on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time followed by the yolks, fully incorporating after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl.
Add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Move swiftly through this step to avoid overworking the batter. Don’t wait for the dry or liquid mixtures to be fully incorporated before adding the next. This step should take a total of about 60 seconds.
Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl all the way down. Don’t miss the clumps of ingredients hiding on the bottom of the bowl. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds to develop the batter’s structure.
Prepare the pans. For a Bundt cake, spray the pan well with a nonstick spray. For 9-inch-round cakes, line the bottom of each pan with parchment but do not spray the sides. For Crunchy Feet, place the brioche pans on sheet pans (16 per half-sheet pan is a snug fit) and spray them liberally with a nonstick spray.
For a Bundt cake, fill the pan about three-quarters full by depositing the batter with the rubber spatula in small clumps around the prepared pan instead of by pouring it into one spot. Level the batter with the rubber spatula. Bake any leftover batter as Crunchy Feet or cupcakes. For 9-inch-round cakes, deposit the batter into three separate areas of the pan and smooth out with an offset spatula, making sure the pans are two-thirds full. For Crunchy Feet, use a 2-ounce, trigger-release, ice-cream scoop to deposit the batter into the prepared pans so they’re three-quarters full.
Follow the approximate bake times listed below:
ITEM: 12-cup bundt - At Sea Level, bake 45 minutes; at High Altitude, bake 55 minutes.
ITEM: 9-inch rounds - At Sea Level, bake 26-28 minutes; at High Altitude, bake 42 minutes
ITEM: Crunchy Feet - At Sea Level, bake 15 minutes; at High Altitude, bake 32 minutes
. Once the top of the cake doesn’t jiggle in the center and is golden brown across the top and edges, test for doneness by inserting a bamboo skewer in the center of the cake. When the skewer shows just a touch of crumbs or comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a heat- resistant surface or wire rack.
. For the Bundt cake, once the cake has cooled for 5 to 10 minutes, remove the cake by inverting the pan onto a flat surface. Allow it to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before glazing.
. For Crunchy Feet, carefully invert the brioche pans to release the cakes 3 to 4 minutes after removing them from the oven—well before they cool completely. You may have to tap each pan firmly—or even slam it—against the sheet pan to release the cake. Place on a heat-resistant surface or wire rack to cool. Immediately soak the pans to make cleaning easier.
. For the layer cake, cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes, before removing from the pan. Use a small offset spatula to loosen the cake from the rim of the pan. Carefully invert each pan onto a flat surface to remove the layers. Remove the parchment from the bottom of each cake and wrap the cake tightly in plastic. Assembling a layer cake is easier if the cake is cold, so refrigerate the layers overnight or for up to 5 days before frosting.
SERVING AND STORING
Serve naked or with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar or use Glazing Chocolate. For a dressed-up version, serve assembled with rum-flavored Italian Meringue Buttercream, Ganache, and fresh bananas.
Store under a cake dome at room temperature, or wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to 1 week. If frosted, store under a cake dome for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 1 week. To store unfrosted cake longer, label, date, and store the plastic-wrapped cake in the freezer for up to 1 month.
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2008 Warren Brown