Baked Sunday Mornings: Bananas Cake

I love baking layer cakes, especially layer cakes from the guys at Baked. I have a pretty good track record with their  cake recipes, and when I got a copy of their latest cookbook, Baked Elements, the very first recipe I tried was a peanut butter-chocolate layer cake, the oopsy daisy cake. A few months later, I tried the antique caramel cake, and I liked it so much that I made it two days in a row. But it's not always sunshine and rainbows in layer cake land. In between the oopsy daisy cake and the antique caramel cake, I had a colossal cake failure, with the bananas cake

The bananas cake is a three layers of banana cake with peanut butter filling, covered in chocolate ganache and chocolate glaze. I made it last year as a birthday cake for my co-worker Jillian. I spent hours making the cake the night before, packed it up carefully in a bakery box, and gently set it on the floor of my car before driving into work (I normally take the subway to work, but I occasionally drive when I'm carrying heavy baked goods). Jillian's birthday is in January, so it was a cold day, and I had the heat on in my car. When I got to work and took a look at the cake, my heart dropped; the two top layers had slid off of the bottom layer. I surmised that the cake must have been too close to the heating vent, causing the ganache to soften and allowing the layers to slip off.

I felt awful. Of course I have an occasional baked goods disaster here and there, but I was so distressed to have screwed up Jillian's birthday cake (unfortunately, screwing up a birthday cake is not unprecedented). I didn't try making the bananas cake again until it came up on this week's Baked Sunday Mornings schedule.

I made the three layers of banana cake without any problems. I made the peanut butter filling without any difficulty. And even the chocolate ganache turned out great. I kept my prior experience in mind when I assembled the cake; I wanted to make sure that the cake layers were firmly cemented together.
There is both peanut butter filling and chocolate ganache between each of the cake layers. To make sure that the ganache would be firm and hold fast, I spread the filling and ganache on two of the layers and chilled them separately in the fridge for about 20 minutes before stacking one on top of the other. I also made sure to chill the cake for about a half hour after crumb coating it, after spreading on the remainder of the ganache, and after pouring on the chocolate glaze. After I sprinkled on the chopped peanut garnish, I thought it looked great. I stored the cake under a dome at room temperature overnight, because I thought the ganache would get too hard if I kept it in the fridge too long.
The next morning, the cake still looked perfect. I cut a slice while I was still at home so that I could take a photo for this post. From that one slice, I could tell that the ganache was soft, and it was difficult to get the three layers to stay together as I transferred the slice to a plate. One thing I love about Baked layer cakes is that they slice beautifully, but this one was an exception. Still, the cake looked fine, and I packed it up in a box to take to work. Although it has been somewhat warm here in D.C. lately, we've been fortunate to have cool weather in the mornings, so it was only about 55 degrees when I took the cake to work. I figured the climate was perfect and I wasn't too worried about the ganache melting.

I happened to take the bus to work that day, and when I arrived at the office, it was déjà vu; I opened the box to find that the top two layers of the cake had slid off and were pressed against the side of the box. I did my best to maneuver them back onto the bottom layer, and I offered the resulting pastiche of cake, filling, and ganache to my co-workers. They loved it.

I couldn't believe how delicious the messy pile of cake was. The banana cake is very moist, and it had a strong, lightly sweet banana flavor -- it was outstanding. And while I often think that chocolate ganache can be overpowering, here in combination with the peanut butter filling, it was perfect. The flavor combination of banana, peanut butter, and chocolate was sublime. This one of the most satisfying desserts I can remember eating in a long time. It's comfort food at its best.

Despite having two cake disasters with this recipe, I would absolutely make this cake again. But I think I'm only going to serve it to people at my house -- I'm giving up on trying to travel with it anywhere!

Recipe: "Bananas Cake" from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.


Anonymous said…
That ganache buttercream was kind of a nightmare, but it's true that all of these flavors together (even if they're melty and not picture-perfect) are amazing!
Glad it tasted good! It does look beautiful. I know what you mean about cake failures. I've had them slide too...but when they turn out, I totally forget the failed ones! :)
Unknown said…
I had the same issues when I was trying to photograph slices of the cake in an attempt to recreate the cover shot - it was warm and everything was sliding everywhere. I tried again when the cake was chilled - the slices looked better - but this cake is definitely not meant to be eaten cold. It's just all that butter in the frosting...if it starts to get warm, things get messy!
Bourbonnatrix said…
Cakes sliding off are my worst nightmare! Glad you enjoyed the cake!
Ilyssa said…
Hi! I found your blog last night when I was looking for a new banana cake recipe. Interestingly, we have tried many of the same recipes and i agreed with many of your opinions so I went ahead and made the Sally’s baking addiction banana cake. It was really good! I have been looking for a good banana cake recipe for a long time and this is exact what I’ve been looking for. Since it’s the summer and I did not want any too heavy I frosted with a basic banana glaze which I’d recommend. Anyway- this layer cake is next in my banana cake baking cue. Also looks really good.
@Ilyssa -- thanks so munch for stopping by! I love banana cake so much, and I don't know if there's a tastier combination than banana cake + cream cheese frosting. Happy baking!
Ilyssa said…
I will absolutely try the cream cheese frosting next time! Sounds amazing and thanks again.