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Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake with Chai Spices

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I first got the idea for this cake when watching The Great British Bake Off in the fall. I can’t remember exactly what dessert they were doing, but I think each contestant had to make their own version of an upside-down cake. I started thinking about what I might like in an upside-down cake that would be different than the normal apple or pineapple upside-down and bananas came to mind. To make it unique I thought that adding chai spices (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice and cloves) would be a nice addition. I hadn’t made too many upside-down cakes before, so I did a search on the internet to see if there were any banana upside-down cakes that looked good. I found a recipe on that looked promising. It used buttermilk and was cooked in a cast iron skillet, which I liked.

I decided to add a mix of spices to the caramel-banana mixture that would be the top of the cake. The first time I made it, I also happened to have some chopped pistachios and sprinkled those over the caramel before adding the bananas. This turned out really well, but shelling and chopping pistachios is a pain, so I’m making that an optional addition in this recipe. We all loved the cake, it rose really well and had a tender crumb and the caramel-banana mixture on top was outstanding!

In the spirit of full disclosure, when I made this recipe yesterday, I made two big mistakes. First I accidentally used my 12-inch skillet instead of my 10-inch skillet, which in itself wouldn’t have been a huge deal. However my second mistake was that I got distracted by my kids having an argument and I didn’t put enough baking powder in the cake. To be honest, I’m not sure if I put any! This made for a very flat pancake-like thing, rather than a fluffy cake. It was still delicious, however the texture was a little off-putting. I have made this cake several times before though and each of those times came out well!

If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make sour milk by adding 2 tsp of white vinegar to your milk.

[recipe title=”Caramelized Banana Upside-down Cake with Chai Spices” servings=”1 10-inch cake” preptime=”10 mins” cooktime=”35-40 mins” difficulty=”easy” description=”This cake batter is very quick to put together and the banana-caramel topping is delicious!”]

For the Caramelized Bananas
– 1/4 cup butter
– 1/3 cup light brown sugar
– 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
– 1/2 tsp ground ginger
– 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
– pinch ground allspice
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/4 cup chopped pistachios, optional
– 2-3 bananas, sliced into rounds
– pinch ground cloves

For the Cake
– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 3/4 tsp salt
– 1/2 cup vegetable oil
– 1 cup granulated sugar
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 large egg
– 1 large egg yolk
– 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Melt butter, sugar, spices and salt in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly until combined.
3. Remover from heat. Sprinkle with pistachios, if using, and cover bottom of skillet with a layer of the banana rounds. Set aside.
4. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, sugar and vanilla. Add the egg and yolk and whisk to combine. Add the buttermilk and whisk again.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold gently with a rubber spatula to combine. Do not over mix.
7. Pour the batter over the bananas and gently smooth the top.
8. Bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, until a cake tester comes out with a crumb or two.
9. Remove from oven and run a pairing knife around the edge of the pan. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then carefully invert onto a serving platter. If bits of caramel or banana stick to the bottom of the pan, scrape them off and place them back on the cake.
10. Let cool at least 20 minutes until caramel sets before serving.
[/recipe-directions] [/recipe]

Melt butter, sugar, spices and salt in a 10-inch cast iron skillet, stirring constantly, until combined.

Sprinkle with pistachios if using then cover bottom of skillet with a layer of bananas.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, sugar and vanilla.

Whisk in egg and egg yolk.

Whisk in buttermilk.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and gently fold to combine. Do not over mix.

Pour batter over banana mixture and smooth top.

Bake 35-40 minutes until cake tester comes out with a crumb or two.

Let sit 5-10 minutes in pan before carefully inverting onto a serving platter.

A less flat version that has pistachios. I sprinkled on extra pistachios after baking for colour.

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