Thursday’s Dish: Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

My husband’s birthday was this past weekend, so I made one of his favorite cakes, Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting. It’s a great cake, really moist inside like a carrot cake, and the combination is sort of old fashioned and unexpected at the same time.

The recipe is from the book Southern Cakes (Chronicle Books, 2007) by Nancie McDermott, who is more known for her Asian cookbooks but went back to her Southern roots for this one. I got to meet Nancie at a food writers’ conference. She’s a lovely, funny, generous person, and a mom to two teenage daughters. In the introduction to this book, she writes: “Since I have had my own children … I’ve been returning to the Southern foods of my childhood more often, partly to share my history with them, and partly because having a family at home means cooking every day, and usually more than once.” Amen, sister. This cake is great for making with kids, who can mash the bananas, measure ingredients or stir the frosting, depending on their ages.

The frosting recipe that comes with the cake is good, so I’m including it here, but I’m also adding another one from Nancie’s book, Blanche’s Never-Fail Chocolate Icing, which is EVEN BETTER and what I use when I make it.

Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Banana Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk (see Note)

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas

To make the cake, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and stir with a fork to combine well.

In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar, and beat well, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and then the vanilla. Beat well for 2 to 3 minutes more, scraping down the bowl occasionally, until you have a smooth batter.

Using a large spoon or spatula, stir in half the flour just until it disappears into the batter. Stir in the buttermilk, and then the remaining flour, the same way. Quickly and gently fold in the mashed bananas, and then divide the batter between 2 cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched lightly in the center, and begin to pull away from the sides of the pans.Advertisement
Cool for 10 minutes in the pans on wire racks or folded kitchen towels. Then turn out onto wire racks or plates to cool completely, top side up.

Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/3 cup cocoa

1/3 cup evaporated milk or half-and-half

4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the frosting, in a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa, and evaporated milk. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the cocoa dissolves into a dark, shiny essence. Remove from the heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat with a mixer at low speed until you have a smooth, thick frosting.

To complete the cake, place one layer, top side down, on a cake plat or serving plate, and spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly over the top. Cover with the second layer, placed top side up. Spread the frosting evenly, first over the sides and then covering the top of the cake.

Note: If you don’t have buttermilk, stir 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice into 1/2 cup milk, and let stand 10 minutes.

Blanche’s Never-Fail Chocolate Icing

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. Cook slowly, stirring to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter. Increase the heat just enough to bring the mixture to a boil, and then let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add the chocolate chips, and beat until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Spread over cake, or the layers you want to ice.

Written by: Shannon Oelrich

4 Comments on Thursday’s Dish: Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

  1. One thing I forgot to mention about this cake is that the author insists that the mixing be done with a spoon, not a mixer. I made the mistake once of using a mixer and the cake was definitely tough. Light mixing with a wooden spoon is the key to a light cake, in this case!

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