I love American layer cakes. The combination of a moist cake crumb with creamy frosting makes me swoon. They way the layers are thick and stacked tall, slathered with rich frosting is typically American. Unlike their European counterparts, American cakes are huge, sweet, and filling. To me, they evoke images of diners, films from the 50s, and general Americana. I missed them when I lived abroad.
Another very “American” food is peanut butter. My friends from Europe and Japan just don’t have the same relationship with peanut butter as my American ones. They tend to not like it — or at least are not passionate about it! For me, if there’s anything I am addicted to, as in: I eat it every day and usually multiple times a day, I would have to say it’s peanut butter. I really can eat it on just about anything, as it goes with savory (eg. peanut noodles) and sweet flavors.
Since I eat it so often I try to be careful about portion size because it’s so easy to eat tablespoon after tablespoon of it! I’ve also experimented with combining it with peanut flour with great results (nutty flavor with fiber, protein and less fat).
Trader Joe's no longer carries it, but you can get it at southerngracefarms.com
So when I came across this recipe for Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze, I knew I just had to make it. The combination of bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate are just too good to resist — the perfect trifecta!
There are a few changes I made to the recipe to lighten it up a bit. The first was that I halved the cake recipe and baked it in a cute 6-inch pan. Un-American? Perhaps. But a small layer cake is just SO cute, and I figured with the richness of this cake, the smaller portions would be healthier.
See the difference between a cute 6-inch pan and a 9-inch pan?
I didn’t have buttermilk so I substituted some yogurt and milk mixed together. Also, I made less peanut butter filling since it was a smaller cake and lightened it by using peanut flour along with the peanut butter, less sugar, and I omitted the heavy cream. In place of the butter based glaze, I made my favorite Chocolate Ganache Frosting — which is pretty much like a chocolate truffle, but I couldn’t help myself.
With the peanut butter frosting before the chocolate ganache entered the picture.
The final product was a very moist, dense cake full of banana flavor coupled with creamy peanut butter and luscious chocolate. I loved that the cake wasn’t HUGE. It still would easily serve eight to ten people, but the portions aren’t Cadillac sized. Because the cake has all the other qualities of a rich, decadent American cake (even with the few lightened tweaks), the un-American portion sizes definitely don’t leave you feeling unsatisfied!
Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Filling and Chocolate Ganache Frosting
Adapted from: http://www.takingonmagazines.com/
Note: If you want to make a true American sized cake, double the cake, filling and frosting recipes and bake in 2 8-inch pans for 35-40 minutes.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large eggs
1 1/2 overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk or ¼ nonfat plain yogurt plus ¼ cup milk
Peanut Butter Filling
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
½ cup peanut butter (or ¼ cup peanut butter plus 40 grams of peanut flour and 2 oz. almond milk)
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
extra milk if needed
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
4 oz. chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, or a mix
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 1 6-inch by 2-inch cake pan. Line bottom with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy for about two minutes. Add the egg one at a time, beating well after addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Mix in the bananas and vanilla extract.
- Slowly add in flour mixture and alternate with buttermilk (or yogurt) mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture – about 3 times.
- Pour batter into cake pan. Tap on counter to get rid of air bubbles. Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour until skewer poked in center comes out clean. I would start checking at 45 minutes because ovens vary.
- Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing from cake pans. Cool completely before frosting.
For the Peanut Butter Filling
1. Cream the butter and peanut butter (or peanut butter plus peanut flour almond milk mixture) together in a large bowl. Add the powdered sugar and milk if needed. Mix well.
2. Add either more milk or sugar to reach the desired consistency.
For the Chocolate Ganache Frosting
- Chop chocolate and place in a medium sized bowl. Bring heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour cream over chopped chocolate in bowl. Add corn syrup. Let sit for 3 minutes. Whisk to incorporate until chocolate is silky smooth with no streaks. Add vanilla and stir with a spoon.
- Place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes stirring once halfway and again after 30 minutes.
To assemble cake
- Cut cooled banana cake in half with a serrated knife.
- Place four strips of parchment on cake dish and place first layer on top (this will keep your plate clean). Cover with peanut butter filling. Place second layer on top. Frost cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting. Remove parchment paper.