Light and fluffy yet moist and intensely banana flavored, this cake will steal the show at your next dinner party. The banana pudding filling and whipped cream icing add to the moistness and balance the sweetness. Personally, I can’t think of anything more abhorrent than a powdered sugar icing over a beautiful cake. Give me ganache, whipped cream, creme fraiche, coulis of fruit with liqueur…anything but sickening sweet powdered sugar with fat.
Banana Cake was the second best selling dessert at Coco’s, my restaurant in Tonga, surpassed only by my Perfect Chocolate Cake. I made this cake in huge sheets for putu’s (funerals)and pola’s (feasts). Large round layered cakes decorated with fresh flowers and whipped cream were made for birthdays and other celebrations.
Polynesians celebrate the 1st birthday and 21st birthday with much fan fare, going to enormous expense to put on a feast for hundreds of people and there is always a representative of the royal family in attendance as well. Young girls dance the Tala’lunga (a traditional dance with hands and facial expressions) at these affairs. Their costumes are elaborate wrap-around sheets of hammered mulberry bark, called tapa cloth, decorated with seeds, leaves and feathers. Guests show their appreciation by slapping paper money onto the dancers’ arms which have been slathered with coconut oil. The money is then given to the royal family as tribute for them coming to the festivities. Odd, in our estimation, that the money is not given to the guest of honor or the hosts. At any rate, there is much ceremony and speeches during the eating of the meal, cutting the cake and distributing the largess.
Everyone will enjoy this cake, even without the fan fare.
Ingredients for 2 layers, 9-inch round:
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2 medium bananas mashed
- 1 tsp vanilla, or 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp banana essence
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 plain yogurt or sour milk
- 1 recipe banana pudding filling (recipe given below)
- 2 cups whipped cream with 1 tsp vanilla and 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper, butter and dust evenly with flour.
- Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add egg yolks, bananas, and vanilla. Mix until well combined.
- Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Set aside.
- Sift flour, soda and salt together. Add to creamed mixture alternately with the yogurt. Note: if weather is very dry, additional yogurt may be needed.
- Immediately fold egg whites into batter. Pour batter into prepared pans.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Transfer cakes to cooling rack for 5 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely.
- Fill with banana pudding between layers. (recipe given below)
- Cover top and sides with whipped cream. Use a star tip and piping bag to decorate top and bottom edges if desired.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Ingredients for Banana Pudding:
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 egg yolks, beaten slightly
- 1 tsp vanilla, or banana essence or banana liqueur
- 1 large ripe banana, mashed smooth
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- In a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium high heat, place sugar, cornstarch and salt.
- Slowly add milk whisking constantly until smooth.
- Temper the eggs with 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture and return to sauce pan. Cook a few minutes more until custard thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
- Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Add banana and lemon juice.
- Cover top of pudding with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator.
- Use to fill between layers of cake.