rescued bananas

I have to confess.  Bananas are abused in my home.  First, I tend to buy too many so they don’t all get consumed.  Second, they are left alone too long on the shelf….neglected.  When I find the final few, they are a totally different color, not bright and cheerful as they were when they traveled home with me, but black and bruised ready for the trash.  I often make banana bread and put a loaf in the freezer for later enjoyment.  But, on this very day I wanted to make it up to those neglected bananas and make something different and special out of them.  So I dug out the cookbooks and found something new and exciting…Banana Nut Cake.  The note in the recipe said the bananas should be at least 7 days old for maximum flavor…YES!.  It also said “the browner the better.”…YES!  Just a few more words….This cake was loved and devoured quickly by many of my family members.  It will absolutely make future appearances on our tables. 

Banana Nut Cake – serves 16
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups mashed bananas (see note)
2/3 cup finely chopped black walnuts
Penuche Frosting
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar
     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large mixer bowl, cream the shortening and sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and beat well after each addition.  sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together, and add them to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk.  Then stir in the bananas and black walnuts.  Pour into three 8-inch or two 9-inch oiled cake layer pans.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched lightly with your finger.  Allow to cool 10 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool completely before frosting.
     In a small saucepan, melt the butter for the frosting.  Stir in brown sugar and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat, and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the mild and bring again to a boil, stirring all the while.  Remove from the heat and pour into a mixer bowl.  Let cool.  Add salt and vanilla, and gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar.  Beat until the frosting is creamy and the right consistency for spreading.  Spread between layers and frost top of cake. 
     NOTE:  Bananas should be at least 7 days old for maximum flavor.  Buy them ahead of time and ripen them until the skin is heavily flecked with brown – the browner the better.

 Adding eggs one at a time is an important step.
 Mash bananas and measure carefully.
Continue stirring while pouring milk in slowly.
 Use a spatula to fold in bananas
 Same method for walnuts.
 Spread batter evenly in pans.
 Important to cool on rack.
 Important to stir frosting mixture constantly
 Frosting consistency is like fudge.
 Source:   Adams, Marcia. “Banana Nut Cake.” Recipe. Cooking from Quilt Country: Hearty Recipes from Amish and Mennonite Kitchens. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1989. 134.