Caramelized Banana Bread

banana bread
Last night, my friend ate the last slice of banana bread in the fridge so it was time to start the process anew. Instead of making the same one, I was intrigued by yet another David Lebovitz recipe: Banana and Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake. But without the chocolate chips and the addition of a handful of toasted walnuts.

In addition to baking it in a loaf plan (a less than well-conceived change), I also reduced the sugar from 3/4 cup to 2/3 cup and the banana topping from 3-4 bananas to 1. Who has that many bananas lying around?!

The result was a cinnamon flecked banana cake with a gooey caramel-banana layer. It’s barely noticeable in the picture, but it adds a flavorful punch. I would definitely make this recipe again, but in a cake pan with a more numerous amount of bananas and the recommended shot of espresso or even just a teaspoon of fine coffee powder added to the batter. The chocolate was not missed!

Caramelized Banana Bread

banana bread slice

ADAPTED from David Lebovitz

NOTES: Unlike most other baked goods, DO NOT bake until you can pierce it with a skewer and no crumbs come out. It should feel set in the center, and if you do poke it, expect to see a few moist crumbs.

If you’re baking it in a toaster oven, remember to check and rotate every ten or fifteen minutes. The time between healthy tan and a charred burn is tiny.

For the topping:
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons (60 g) packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water or butter; cubed, at room temperature
1 ripe medium banana, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
a few drops of lemon juice

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups (210 g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup granulated sugar (130 g)
2 tablespoons (30 g) melted butter, salted or unsalted
2 large eggs
1 cup (250 g) banana puree (about 2 bananas)
a little less than 1/2 cup (110 g) sour cream or yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup of toasted and chopped walnuts

David Lebovitz makes his topping right in the pan. As I bought my bread pan at the 99 cent store, I didn’t want to put it directly over a flame. Instead, I sprayed the pan with cooking spray and lined it with parchment paper, leaving a one inch overhang on each sides for easy removal.

Heat the butter and sugar in the sauce pan until bubbling. Spoon it into the lined bread pan, and smooth it out as much as you can. Wait until it cools and cover the bottom of the pan with banana slices. You could easily double the amount I listed (Lebovitz uses 3-4 bananas for an 8 inch cake pan) and squeeze a wedge of lemon on top. I was pleased to note that the clumpy blackish sugar goo smoothed out into a uniform layer by the time I added the batter.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl, making sure there are no lumps. Mix in the granulated sugar.

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, eggs, banana puree, yogurt, and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients until almost combined. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the walnut pieces.

Scrape the batter into the pan over the bananas, then use a spatula to carefully spread the batter over the sliced fruit.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the cake feels just set in the center when you touch it.

Cool the cake for about 20 minutes, then run a knife along the edges of the cake to help it release from the pan. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack.


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