The Sugar Mommas Note:
Submitted by Joanna Ennis, from her great-aunt Fern Taylor’s recipe, Jeanette’s Creek, Ontario, Canada
Joanna Ennis was married in 1993 at the age of 25. Her mother, Helen, threw Joanna a wedding shower and invited colleagues (other labor and delivery nurses) and all of Joanna’s aunties. As an intended surprise, Helen sent blank cards to all the attendees before the shower. The idea was to present Joanna with a compilation of recipes. Of course, some things do not go according to the plan, and the cookbook was never completed. In 2005, Helen sent Joanna a birthday present. Helen had copied all of the recipes from the bridal shower cards by hand. She also included many old family recipes that had been abandoned. One such entry was this delicious cake. Joanna asked her mother why she’d never served it to the family. “Were you keeping it for yourself?” she joked. Helen explained that she tended to limit her baking to treats the whole family would enjoy. Since Joanna’s father and sister didn’t like bananas, Joanna was deprived of this dessert for most of her childhood.
Helen enjoyed this treat while growing up because her aunt Fern made the cake regularly. Helen remembers as a child jumping on bikes with her two siblings and hightailing it across the railroad tracks to their aunt’s house in the hope of getting lucky with a fresh slice. “Often we were,” Helen wrote. “Years later [Aunt Fern] told us she would make two [cakes] because by the time we finished the pieces she gave us, there wasn’t enough left for her dessert. Neat aunt, eh!”
This cake represents a combination of our favorite things: banana (Momma Jenna) and caramel (Momma Reiner). We call it a Sugar Mommas spectacular combustion! Perfect for PMS or that 3:00 P.M. blood sugar boost.
Cooks&Books&Recipes Featured Cook Sheri:
I thought the Buffalo Chip Cookies were going to be the first thing I made. But as I was browsing through the book, I came across the Banana Caramel Cake. And I couldn’t resist. I had over-ripe bananas sitting in the kitchen, and I can’t resist anything with caramel.
This cake couldn’t be easier to make–I love one-bowl recipes. This one has some milk in the batter, and that, along with the bananas, makes for a really moist cake. Sometimes cooking with bananas is tricky. Getting the flavor and level of sweetness right isn’t always easy, but this one nails it. The cake is a simple two-layer cake, with caramel frosting sandwiched in-between and on top. It’s rustic and homey. And delicious!
The book is well laid out, and the recipe for this cake was easy to follow and well-written. The authors include helpful tips with each recipe, including things to watch out for and suggestions for”sassing up” the recipe. For example, the tip included with the caramel frosting was incredibly useful. The authors warn that it will cool and thicken quickly, and they give advice for keeping it spreadable. That alone kept me from being frustrated about what turned out to be a delicious, simple, and very sweet frosting.
The cake will keep for days, if you can keep from eating it all at once. I kept it on the counter under a cake dome. It’s perfect for stealing a sliver whenever the urge for something a little sweet strikes you. And without the frosting, I think this cake would be nice as a breakfast treat.
Banana Caramel Cake
Featured Recipe From: Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story
Yield: 1 (8-inch) round layer cake
- 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 warm batch Aunt Fern's Caramel Icing (recipe follows)
- Recipe cards
For Aunt Fern's Caramel Icing
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans (or use nonstick spray) and set aside.
- Place the bananas and baking soda in a small bowl and mix them together and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter on medium speed until combined. Add the egg and vanilla and blend on low speed until creamy. Add half of the flour mixture and blend until the dry ingredients are moistened. Blend in the milk. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. Use a spatula to fold in the bananas.
- Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool the cakes in the pans on top of wire racks for 10 minutes, then carefully turn the cakes out onto the wire racks and let cool completely.
- When the cakes have cooled, make Aunt Fern's Caramel Icing. Place one cake layer upside down on a serving platter. Use a knife or an angled spatula to spread the warm icing onto the cake, being generous on top, as it will be a filling layer. Place the second layer upside down on top of the bottom layer and spread icing on the top and sides.
For Aunt Fern's Caramel Icing
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
- Slowly add the milk and bring the mixture back to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to lukewarm temperature. Add the vanilla and stir to blend.
- Pour the caramel mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the confectioners sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the icing has a smooth consistency.
Sugar Mommas' Cake Tips
sugar mommas' note: This recipe is very versatile. Joanna has made cupcakes, sheet cake, rounds, and squares. We love the idea of a square layer cake for a unique visual effect. The layers will be a little thinner, so make sure to watch your bake times, as they may vary when using a different pan than specified. See our Cake Pan Volume Chart (page 274) for guidance.
sass it up: If you want to make a "wow" presentation and impress your friends, don't frost the sides of the cake. Instead, frost the top of the bottom layer with a very thick layer of icing. Slice 1 or 2 bananas (depending on your level of banana love) and place the slices around the edges of the cake or all across the top. Add the second layer of cake and ice the top completely.
carpool crunch: When pressed for time, this is a great one-bowl cake. Just throw everything together, mix it up, and pour it into your pan(s).
Sugar Mommas' Frosting Tips
sugar mommas' note: The icing cools and thickens quickly. You may want to frost one layer, then put the saucepan back over low heat and give it another whirl with a handheld electric mixer to soften it enough to apply the top layer of frosting. Or you can transfer the frosting to a glass or other microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high power in 25-second intervals, stirring in between, until it has a spreadable consistency.
sugar mommas' dirty little secret:
If there is any leftover caramel after frosting the cake, Joanna dabs a spoonful between two graham crackers and shoves it in her mouth. (Don't let the kids see!) That's our kind of chick! We say, who needs the graham crackers? A spoon or finger works well as long as the caramel has cooled. If you make yourself sick and/or nauseous from intravenous caramel infusion and still have icing left over, refrigerate it in a tightly sealed container. Then you can pop it in the microwave and pour it over ice cream when you regain consciousness.
2011 Kimberly Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero
Reprinted with permission from Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story, by Kimberly "Momma" Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero (Andrews McMeel Publishing)