I love damp cakes. They are my favorite kind, that thick, heavy near-wetness that saturates each crumb and packs between cheek and tongue with a satisfying squish. They can be chocolate, or vanilla, carrot or as in this case, banana.
I don't like recipe sites. Sites like Allrecipes and Recipezaar and even epicurious frustrate me, like this movie I'm listening to on Lifetime frustrates me (Alec "You're a fat, ungrateful pig" Baldwin plays the stepfather and lover of a teenage callgirl who orchestrates the suicide/homicide of her mother so she and Alec can be together. She also doesn't have a real comforter on her bed, just a giant, honey-colored bear pelt, with a face and jaws, which Alec Baldwin hides under during one scene, while his wife/her mother tells her she can't find (Alec) and could she (Callgirl daughter) please be quiet because Ricardo is coming over and he hates children. Alec Baldwin is under the bear pelt, and between his stepdaughter's legs. This is all on Lifetime, before 10:00 at night Pacific time. You tell me why I am both disgusted and fascinated.) -- there are so many things I want to like about them, but then there's always just some strange thing waiting to freak me out like a recipe for "Cream cheese chicken" and the bear pelt.
But when I need a recipe for a banana cake, a recipe that has been tested and reviewed, I often search those sites. This is how I found a recipe for what promised to be THE BEST BANANA CAKE EVER. One of the things that attracted me to the particular recipe, the Alec Baldwin selling point, was how "moist" every review proclaimed it to be. The directions call for shoving the cake straight from the oven inside of your freezer, but I didn't do that. I also haven't turned this movie off, and you know why? Because Luke Wilson just showed up and I can't do that to him or his lovely face. Enjoy your residual, Luke. I've hidden it inside of my shirt.
So I made the cake, and it is ridiculous. It is amazing, and almost too damp. While the original recipe calls for a 13x9 inch pan, I used two 9-inch rounds. One remains unfrosted, untouched, to be cut into wedges and enjoyed with coffee and tea, taken to work and school for breakfast. And one was gilded -- a tangy, white-chocolate cream cheese icing, scattered with toasted pecans. A smidge tacky, over the top and it might rot important parts of you. But FANTASTIC.
I encourage you to make the cake, and try both versions. One might make you smarter. The other might have Alec Baldwin and Luke Wilson in it. How can you choose?
Moist Banana Cake
Adapted from Recipezaar.com
1 stick + 6 tbs butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
3 cups AP flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk + 2 tbs lemon juice, stirred together
4 very ripe bananas, smashed or pureed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 275º F. Spray or grease two 9-inch cake pans and set aside.
Sprinkle the mashed bananas with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well after each. Add the vanilla, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, blending well.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, and mix just until combined. Follow with half of the milk, blend, then another third of the flour. Add the rest of the milk, blend, and finally add the rest of the flour and mix just until combined. Pour the mashed bananas into the batter and stir with a spatula or mix on low speed until they're just incorporated.
Divide batter between prepped pans, and bake for up to one hour and 30 minutes, testing after one hour and then every ten minutes -- a toothpick or skewed should exit the cake with no wet batter clinging to it.
White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Icing
6 oz Cream Cheese, softened
3.5 ounces good-quality white chocolate
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a glass bowl over a small saucepan full of gently simmering water, melt the white chocolate completely, until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and let cool.
Cream together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the melted white chocolate and whip until smooth. Spread over cooled cake immediately.