Recently I was going to visit a friend and needed to take along a pre-birthday cake. I could have done my "ole reliable," (a cake I could make in my sleep, which I will someday get around to posting), but frankly, I get a little bored with it. I was prowling the kitchen mulling over the possibilities when I spied the four browning bananas on the counter. Wait just a horse-drawn buggy minute! Hadn't the amazing Brilynn at Jumbo Empanadas recently raved about Dorie's banana cake? I thumbed through my copy of Baking and found it, Eureka! It called for 4 bananas! I was set!
This cake is moist and delicious, like banana bread grown up and dressed for the prom. My friend was initially downcast that I failed to bring chocolate, but the banana cake won her over. I think it's especially toothsome with caramel sauce on top, but if you really need a chocolate fix, some chocolate syrup or frosting could fix that.
Classic Banana Bundt Cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps baking soda
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
About 4 very ripe bananas, mashed ( 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups)
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt*
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 deg. F. Generously butter a 9 to 10 inch (12 cup) Bundt pan. (I have a seasoned stoneware pan that has an 11 cup capacity and it wasn't a problem.) Don't place the pan on a baking sheet as you want the heat to circulate all the way around the pan.
If you're in a rush to make this and just realized your butter and eggs aren't at room temperature, there's a secret quick fix for this. Armpits. Enlist two warm-bodied helpers and have them each put an egg or wrapped stick of butter under each armpit while you measure out the rest of the ingredients. Do not ask someone to help who isn't wearing a shirt, smells bad or is sweaty. You can figure out why. Five minutes tucked under a warm arm will take the chill of your ingredients. And if you never want to eat at my house again, fair enough.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the bananas. Finally, mix in half the dry ingredients (the batter might curdle, don't fret, it'll be OK), all the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the pan, rap the pan on the counter to de-bubble the batter and smooth the top. (Since I use stoneware, I rap it on a cookbook, not wanting to shatter my pan.)
Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check the cake after about 30 minutes - if it's browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool to room temperature.
This cake improves with age. If you've got the time, wrap the cooled cake in plastic and let it sit on the counter overnight.
* I've made it both with sour cream and plan yogurt. If you want to trim a few calories, go ahead and use the yogurt. It's fabulous and bursting with flavor either way.