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Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and Brown Butter Pecans

Posted Jan 18 2013 6:31pm

I'm going to take a moment to talk about my learning style - I hope this is ok? You're probably thinking 'what I really want to talk about is this cake, why the heck is she talking about something boring like learning styles'. Just give me just a few moments, and you'll understand where I'm going with this. Basically, I'm very visual person. I am great with faces, less so with names. I learn through pictures and diagrams. My highest grade during university was in organic chemistry. At the beginning of the semester we were instructed to purchase a molecule kit. Most kids refused to do so as they were a little pricey - and that money would obviously be better spend on beer?!?, but I choose to get one because my prof was cute and I was serious about organic chem? 

I went to university as a mature student, which is funny, because I was far from being mature. Let me backtrack for a second - after I finished high school, I went to college for a few years, got a ridiculous office job which I hated. One day my boss brought a tape of Erin Brockovich to work. He told me that I should aspire to be more like her, and I'm pretty sure what he meant to say was 'dress more like her'. So there you have it folks, my one and only case of sexual harassment in the workplace. With no real direction in my life and a sour taste in my mouth for all office related jobs, I decided to quit and go to Australia. After spending a year there drinking, partying and surfing, I pretty much decided that I didn't want to be a bum forever. I came back to Canada and enrolled in university. I was 24, and serious about my studies. If my prof told me to get a molecule kit, than that's what I did.

So, I'm a visual learner. I like pretty pictures. Most days I would rather sit down and read a pretty magazine or watch a movie than read a book - this I am trying to change, because, it's not actually sexy to be illiterate. Speaking of good books, I just finished Bossy Pants, and if you're looking for a laugh, this is the book for you. 
A while back, I was flipping through my recipe page. Feeling less interested in what was there, and frankly a little bored. I decided that the text links were just not cutting it for me. I wanted to see pictures of the food I was searching. Just like a recipe book, it's got to have pictures to draw me in. I need to see what I am going to make, what I am in for (this is why pinterest is so enertaining). So I reformatted my recipe page by pictures, which has made me a whole lot happier with the site. While I was sorting through my recipes and trying to choose photos to tag, I stumbled upon a few questionable photos from my earlier days. I spent the next 4 hours having the most ridiculous conversation with Mr. H - "honey, does this really look like a veggie burger, or honey, what the hell was I thinking taking this photo. Be honest, does it look like some sort of weird cat, or a cake? Wait, I don't actually want you to be honest."
This is what I thought when I saw the photo of the banana cake, that I posted 2 years back. Well, it didn't really look like a cat, because looking like a cat would be a step up. It looked more like a jelly fish. I had no real understanding of white balance, which was an issue because I took most of my photos at night. The photo of the banana cake was so orange, it looked like it was shot in the pit of a volcano.
The problem with the picture was that it really didn't portray the awesomeness that is this cake. Picture this - two moist loaves of banana bread, fastened together with cream cheese icing, and sprinkled with brown butter pecans. It's a cake, but also breakfast, and that is the beauty of it. How many opportunities in our lives to eat cake for breakfast and feel good about it. Well, there was that time last month where I ate chocolate cake for breakfast and felt pretty good about it. Regardless, banana cake is where its at. 
I made this cake a few days ago, mostly because I wanted to create some better looking photos, and have an excuse to eat cake for breakfast - because I'm getting awfully sick of avocado on toast. (especially this morning when I realized that my piece of toast had mold. Pretty much turned me off that for a couple of weeks). I also want you to become as excited about this cake as I am. A photo can say a thousand words, and I want these ones to say - hey girl, put down that avocado toast and come grab a slice of me.
BANANA CAKE RECIPE (print)
makes 2 - 9" cake rounds
notes: adding the cake to the freezer produces a tender crumb and also allows you to frost and eat the cake quicker. Overripe bananas should be very soft and the skin black in color. Store them in the freezer and pull out 1 hour before making the cake. 

CAKE INGREDIENTS
3 overripe bananas, mashed3 cups all purpose flour1 1/2 tsp baking soda1/2 tsp salt3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened1 1/2 cups white sugar3 large eggs1 1/2 cups buttermilk

ICING INGREDIENTS1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened2 - 8 oz packages of cream cheese, softened2 cups powdered sugar

PECAN INGREDIENTS
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp butter
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Grease two 9 inch round cake pans and set to the side.

Peel and mash the bananas with a fork in a small bowl and set to the side.

In a medium size bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light in color, and fluffy on medium speed.

Add the eggs one at a time.

Turn the speed to low and add in the flour and buttermilk, alternating between the two. Once all is combined, stir in the bananas.

Pour the batter into two round baking pans, and tap on the counter to remove any bubbles. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Place onto a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes.
Place the cake, in their pans, into the freezer for 45 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, add the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar to the stand mixer bowl with the paddle attachment. With the speed set to low, start to mix the icing ingredients. Once the powdered sugar has been incorporated, turn the speed to medium and mix until fluffy. Set to the side.

In a frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of butter on medium. Once the butter starts to foam, add the chopped pecans and salt. Cook for a couple of minutes.

Remove the cakes from the freezer and then from their pans. Scoop a generous amount of icing on top of one cake round. Smooth it out with a spatula. Place the second cake round on top, and then cover with the remaining icing.

Scatter the chopped pecans on top. Cake should be eaten within a week, which will likely not be a problem.

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