When the bunch of bananas you bought for breakfast and healthy snacking have passed their natural prime, fear not! It just means the bananas are now perfect for use in delicious baked goods like breads, muffins, and cakes. I took things a step further by digging out my vintage mini-Bundt cake pan, and the results, as you can see, were quite lovely.
Far too often I buy fresh fruit with every intention of eating it as a snack or on my cereal, but then I see that same fruit in the bowl a week later – soft, brown and sad.
In most cases this means a silent curse and a trip to the trash for the mealy apple or pear, but not so for the banana. For the banana, there is a chance at redemption in the form of baked goods, which do better with overripe bananas.
This weekend I had a few (okay, five) overripe bananas on my counter, so I made it up to them by throwing three into the batter for this cake, which also has dried cherries and toasted pecans. As you should know by now, I like my cakes dense, studded with nuts and dried fruit, and sans frosting.
This cake is dense and moist and not too sweet. It would be fine with a cream cheese glaze or generous dusting of powdered sugar, but I left it as-is. If it looks more like a slice of muffin, I won’t feel so bad when I eat it for breakfast all week.
I also know bananas and cherries aren’t very Christmassy, hence, the snowflake napkin.
See what I did there? Instant holiday cheer.
Banana Cherry Pecan Cake
Adapted from Bundt Classics by Dorothy Dalquist (2003)
1 3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-12 cup Bundt or tube pan, or generously spray with baking cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the bananas, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined.
- Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to batter until combined. Fold in the dried cherries and pecans.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, then bake for 70-80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
At used book stores I always make a beeline for the cookbooks, and once I find them, I zero in on any with those terrible plastic toothed spiral spines. The ones that inevitably fail to do their job of keeping the pages together. To me that spine means the book was compiled by a school, church, charity, etc. and will most likely contain a jackpot of cramped, typed recipes with strange names and an alarming abundance of shortening, sour cream, mayonnaise, whipped topping, and cans of condensed soup.
Powerless to resist their grassroots charm, I have a large collection of these greasy-paged gems. I’ve noticed, however, that I never consider them when I am hunting for a recipe. Instead I turn to my coffee-table style cookbooks or the web, where I know I will see gorgeous photos and read dozens of reviews for every recipe. This seems unfair to my “novelty” cookbooks, so I have decided to turn to them more often in the coming months……and I am hoping they deliver.
Bundt pans are the 1950 Nordic Ware creation designed to pay homage to traditional ceramic molded baking pans of Germany, Austria, and Hungary. The traditional style is a fluted ring shape and works well for pound cakes and coffee cakes. In 1966 a Bundt pan was used in a Pillsbury baking contest, and the cake (the famous “Tunnel of Fudge” cake) won 2nd place. After this, the pan became the most popular baking pan in America, and in the 1970’s Pillsbury put out a line of baking mixes exclusively for Bundts. Other manufacturers began to create their own fluted tube pans, and Nordic Ware (still the best) began issuing new and even more elaborate molds.
Bundts have become such an iconic cake in American culinary and cultural history, that some of the original pans are now in the Smithsonian, and you can celebrate National Bundt Pan day on November 15th. Probably with a Bundt cake.
I officially have an obsession with Bundt pans.
I can trace the evolution of how this came to be, if I really think about it.
A few years ago I made a jokey New Year’s resolution to make 500 cupcakes before the year was over. I didn’t quite make it…nor did I make it the following year, when I tried it again “for real this time”…but somehow during that foolishness I started to become known for cupcakes, and began to enjoy the art of flour and eggs and mixing and frosting and (mostly) feeding other people. That led to an interest in cake decorating (uhm, those roses are hard)…which led to signing up for a 4 week baking series class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts…which led to new worlds of breads and pies and tarts and pate a choux. Wonderful worlds.
The ironic thing is, I don’t really like cake, and I am utterly unmoved by chocolate. Women that love chocolate embarrass me a little. What I do love is bread. Quiche. Savory Gruyère and scallion pate a choux. Cheddar jalapeno cornbread. And, it turns out, cakes in flavors of lemon and vanilla and coconut with fruits and nuts. Thin glaze encouraged. And if I can have these cakes, and ALSO have them look lovely in fluted shapes…or cathedrals, chrysanthemums, evergreens, or kugelhopfs with no overly-sweet frosting…well that’s a cake I can be friends with.
Also, the colorful vintage Bundt pans I have been stockpiling from thrift stores, yard sales, and a certain internet auction site are going to look great on my new kitchen wall when I finally take the time to hang them up….and I will…when I am done buying them.
I had some overripe bananas recently and decided to make Banana Bundt Cake from Dorie Greenspan’s marvelous “Baking: From My Home to Yours”. Traditional Nordic Ware 12 cup fluted Bundt pan. No nuts. No fuss.
My plants supported this cake.