Ever wondered what to do with those overripe bananas that nobody wants to eat?

Did you know that what we so indelicately refer to as “vrot” bananas (in Afrikaans, in South Africa), freeze beautifully? Well they do. So chop those unwanted bananas into chunks, pop them into a sealed plastic bag, and freeze them until you feel in the mood to bake, and/or need a very large and reasonably healthy cake for the hungry multitudes.

My preferred modus operandum is to have a creative Saturday morning in the kitchen, and to take my creations to the Engelska Kyrkan  (“English Church”) in Östermalm, Stockholm, on Sundays, for the congregation to enjoy with coffee or tea after the service. These bakes would be simply too much for just me and my husband – too fattening, is what I really mean!

Most of all I like to try out a new recipe now and then. These I obtain by various means: from friends, or the newsfeed on my Facebook page. I have “liked” a number of cooking and baking pages, and these have proved a most useful source for both every-night family suppers, and my own creative baking bliss: “Saturday mornings in the kitchen”.

The credit for this recipe goes to “Holly N:” of spendwithpennies.com.

She claims the following – and I can only agree: This is, hands down, the BEST banana cake I’ve ever had.  It’s soft, fluffy, moist and rich all at the same time!  Once cooled this cake is topped with a totally irresistible lemon cream cheese frosting for a perfect dessert your family will love.  

This cake is ideal for both a coffee-and-cake scenario for a large group, or a dessert for the greater family.

So here goes:

20 mins +  75 mins + 1 hour 35 mins – I’m really not sure what this is supposed to mean, as the preparation took me about half an hour, and the cake took an hour 15 mins to bake. Then the icing was very quick: no more than about 5 minutes.

Serves: 15 pieces I found that judiciously cut into squares, this cake easily served 20 hungry parishioners – including me and my husband, and a few select friends. (If I’m not quick to stake my claim, the children in the congregation make short work of my baked beauties!)

Ingredients

  • 1⅓ cup mashed bananas – that’s about 3 large bananas
  • 2½ tablespoons lemon juice, divided – this is what makes the bicarbonate of soda react, and the cake to rise. In fact, my cake rose like a mountain! So I carefully sliced off the top with a bread knife, in order to flatten it a bit for icing, and Peter and I enjoyed these fresh, hot crispy morsels for dessert after Saturday night supper!
  • 1½ cups milk 375 ml – if you prefer metric. I thought that the mixture looked too sloppy, so I excluded 100 ml from the final mix. Perhaps 350 ml would have been just right. But use your eye, and decide which quanity you deem best. Flour does vary  considerably in density from country to country.
  • 3 cups flour
  • ½ tablespoon baking soda (bicarb)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Frosting I do love this American term! It sounds much more delicious – and professional – than “icing”. 

  • 8 oz cream cheese a 300 g tub of “Phillie” (full fat Philadelphia cheese) was perfect
  • ⅓ cup butter, softened – this really does help to make a lovely smooth icing – even if it does sound too much
  • 3 – 3.5 cups powdered sugar – 1 ½ cups was just fine
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1½ teaspoons lemon zest (from 1  small lemon)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° (180° C). Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan. My 30 x 20 cm glass dish was not quite big enough, which made for longer baking. A roasting pan would have been better, and made for not such large pieces of cake.
  2. Place 1½ tablespoons lemon juice in a measuring cup. Top to 1½ cups with milk. Set aside. Don’t be alarmed if it curdles! This will react with the bicarb, and help the cake to rise.
  3. Mix together mashed banana with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, set aside. The lemon juice stops it going brown, though it really doesn’t matter if you are using overripe bananas which are already quite brown.
  4. Beat together butter, brown and white sugar until combined – in a LARGE bowl! Stir in eggs and vanilla until mixed. I beat the whole lot – each step – with an electric mixer. 
  5. Combine (i.e. SIFT) flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk to the egg mixture, stirring just until combined. Stirring by hand is better here. Just make sure there are no dry  floury bits at the bottom of your bowl. 
  6. Fold in the bananas. 
  7. Pour into prepared pan.
  8. Put into the oven and reduce heat to 300 (160° C)degrees. I forgot to reduce heat, which may account for the crispy surface that resulted – but it wasn’t the end of the world. Bake 60 – 70 minutes (see note below) or just until toothpick (a long skewer is better, to get to the bottom of the batter) inserted in center comes out clean (do not over bake). (If your cake is not cooked through, continue baking until a toothpick comes out clean).
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Frosting

  1. Cream together butter & cream cheese until fluffy. Add in lemon zest and juice. Add powdered sugar a little at a time until you reach desired consistency. Spread over cooled cake. I sprinkled the top of the iced cake with the left-over grated lemon rind, which looked very pretty!

Notes

Note: The cooking time on this cake can vary greatly! Mine (along with many readers) takes about 60 minutes. Mine was 1 hour 15 mins. Check your cake at 55 minutes, if it isn’t ready, continue cooking until a toothpick comes out clean (this can be up to an additional 20-30 minutes depending on your oven). The result will be a moist and irresistible banana cake.

And this really is a lovely soft-textured, light and delicious cake!

The link to Holly’s recipe is here.

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