Cakes

Amazingly Fluffy and Tender Banana Cake with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Frosting

This banana cake has an amazingly fluffy, tender texture and gets a boost from a swirled peanut butter and chocolate frosting! Plus, a new technique to make flat spongy layers.

The recipe makes a 3-layer cake but is easily adjustable for 1 or 2 layers. If you are concerned about nut allergies or only want to make one type of frosting, just double the desired frosting recipe. Cream cheese frosting would also be delicious!

I love the combination of banana and peanut butter! A few weeks ago I had the inspiration to make a banana cake with peanut butter frosting. I wanted a light cake, not dense like banana bread and a creamy peanut butter frosting. I searched around online and found a well rated recipe for banana cake with cream cheese frosting and used that as my starting point. Then as I was looking into peanut butter frosting, I came across a recipe for cupcakes that had swirled peanut butter and chocolate frosting. That sounded delicious, so I adjusted for the amount that I would need for a 3 layer cake and set ahead to make the cake. The cake turned out to be delicious and my family particularly loved the peanut butter frosting, but there was one problem… the cake was too dense!

This week is my husband’s birthday and I decided to try the banana cake again but figuring out how to make the cake lighter. I came across a recipe for Southern banana cake which, in the pictures, looked like the texture I wanted. However I was still worried that it wouldn’t come out light enough. Then I came across a recipe in my Cook’s Illustrated cookbook for a cake that was a combination of a yellow cake and a chiffon cake that used whipped egg whites for a fluffy texture. I decided to try and see if I could make a sort of combination of the two recipes. The Cook’s Illustrated recipe used oil and extra egg yolks for a moist, rich texture, but I figured the banana would give me that, so I omitted those. It also used melted butter instead of creaming the butter, so I thought I would try that. One recipe used only baking soda and one used a combination of baking powder and baking soda. I decided to go with two but adjusted the ratio to what I thought would work.

About a week ago, I watched a YouTube video from The Preppy Kitchen about how to achieve flat tender cake layers so that you don’t have to cut off the top and waste cake for a layer cake. Basically, you insulate the side of the tins, which keeps the sides from baking faster than the middle. You end up with a more spongy cake that has a flat top. He recommended doing this with either cake strips, which are reusable, adjustable pieces of fabric that you soak in water and wrap around the tins or a homemade version using wet paper towels wrapped in aluminum foil. I don’t have cake strips yet, so I tried the homemade version.

Success! The cake turned out to be the exact texture I wanted. It was fluffy, not dense at all and had amazing flavour from the buttermilk. The layers came out perfectly flat and spongy and I didn’t have to waste any by cutting the top off to make flat layers. The peanut butter and chocolate frostings complimented the cake perfectly. This was one of the best cakes I had ever made!

The only thing I wasn’t as pleased about was the decoration. Unfortunately, I let my frosting get too warm and by the time I got to the top decoration, it started to melt a bit. I should have let it chill longer before adding the final decoration. Oh well… next time!

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[recipe title=”Banana Layer Cake” servings=”12″ preptime=”30 mins” cooktime=”30-35 mins” difficulty=”easy” description=”A fluffy and tender banana cake. Frost with peanut butter and chocolate frosting recipe below.”]
[recipe-notes]
You can use just one type of frosting by doubling the amount of one of the frostings below. If you choose not to insulate the tins with cake strips, decrease the cooking time to 20-22 minutes.
[/recipe-notes][recipe-ingredients]
– 1 1/2 cups very ripe bananas mashed (about 3 bananas)
– 2 tsp lemon juice
– 3 cups (12 oz) cake flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 cups granulated sugar
– 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
– 12 Tbsp butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled
– 3 eggs, separated, at room temperature
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
– pinch of cream of tartar
[/recipe-ingredients][recipe-directions]
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Grease 3 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease parchment and flour pans.
3. Measure out enough paper towel to wrap around the circumference of one of your pans. Wet paper towel. Measure out a strip of aluminum foil that is slightly longer than your paper towel. Fold paper towel inside aluminum foil so that it is the height of your pan. Wrap around your pan, folding the edges together to seal. Repeat with remaining pans.
4. In small bowl, mix bananas and lemon juice. Set aside.
5. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar and brown sugar together in a large bowl. In medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla and egg yolks.
6. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip to soft peaks, about 1 minute. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and whip until glossy, stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to bowl and set aside.
7. Add flour mixture to now empty bowl. With mixer on low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl then increase speed to medium-low and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, about 10-15 seconds.
8. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in banana mixture.
9. Using rubber spatula, stir one third of whites into batter, then add remaining two thirds and gently fold until no white streaks remain.
10. Divide batter evenly between prepared tins. For accuracy, you can use a digital scale.
11. Gently tap the pans against the counter a few times to get rid of any bubbles.
12. Bake until toothpick inserted in centres comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
13. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing from cake pans, discarding parchment and letting cool completely on rack.
[/recipe]

[recipe title=”Chocolate Frosting” servings=”1 1/2 cups” preptime=”5 mins” difficulty=”easy”]
[recipe-notes]
Double this recipe if you only want to use one type of frosting on the cake.
[/recipe-notes][recipe-ingredients]
– 2 cups icing sugar
– 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
– 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– pinch of salt
– 3-4 Tbsp heavy cream
[/recipe-ingredients][recipe-directions]
1. Sift together icing sugar and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with paddle attachments, cream butter, vanilla and salt until smooth.
3. Add icing sugar mixture and mix on low speed until combined.
4. Add cream and mix on medium-high speed until you have a smooth, spreadable frosting, adding more cream as necessary.
5. Use immediately or keep chilled in the fridge, taking the frosting out to soften 10 minutes before use.[/recipe-directions][/recipe]

[recipe title=”Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting” servings=”1 1/2 cups” preptime=”5 mins” difficulty=”easy”]
[recipe-notes]
Double this recipe if you only want to use one type of frosting on the cake.
[/recipe-notes][recipe-ingredients]
– 1 cup peanut butter
– 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
– 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– pinch of salt
– 1 cup icing sugar
– 4-5 Tbsp heavy cream
[/recipe-ingredients][recipe-directions]
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with paddle attachments, cream butter, peanut butter, salt and vanilla until smooth.
3. Add icing sugar mixture and mix on low speed until combined.
4. Add cream and mix on medium-high speed until you have a smooth, spreadable frosting, adding more cream as necessary.
5. Use immediately or keep chilled in the fridge, taking the frosting out to soften 10 minutes before use.[/recipe-directions][/recipe]

Prepare 3 9-inch cake pans by greasing them, lining with parchment paper then greasing and flouring the parchment paper .

Prepare cake strips by measuring enough paper towel to go around the circumference of your cake pan. Then wet the paper towel and fold to match the height of your cake pan. Measure out enough aluminum foil to encase the paper towel. I cut mine in half width-wise so that I got two strips from one sheet of foil.

Fold the aluminum foil around the paper towel strip so that they match the height of your cake pan.

Fit the cake strip around the pan folding the edges together to secure.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar and brown sugar together in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla and egg yolks.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute.

Increase speed to medium-high and whip to soft peaks, about 1 minute.

Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and whip until glossy, stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to bowl and set aside.

Add flour mixture to now empty bowl. With mixer on low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated, about 15 seconds.

Scrape down bowl then increase speed to medium-low and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, about 10-15 seconds.

Using rubber spatula, gently fold in banana mixture.

Using rubber spatula, stir one third of whites into batter, then add remaining two thirds and gently fold until no white streaks remain.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in centre of each cake comes out clean. Here is a completed layer with flat top and spongy sides.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, with paddle attachments, cream butter, peanut butter, salt and vanilla until smooth.

Add icing sugar mixture and mix on low speed until combined.

Add cream and mix on medium-high speed until you have a smooth, spreadable frosting, adding more cream as necessary.

Finished chocolate frosting.

To assemble to cake, I put chocolate frosting between the first two layers, then peanut butter frosting between 2nd and 3rd layers. I spread peanut butter frosting over the top and top half of the side of the cake and chocolate frosting along the bottom half of the side, smoothing to combine. Then I mixed the two in a piping bag to create swirl decorations along the top and bottom of the cake.

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