07 February 2010

Banana Cake with Amaretto Buttercream

It was my friend Sam's birthday this week and I asked him what his favorite cake was. He said, and I quote, "a banana cake with that bomb frosting on top." Later to be explained as basically banana bread with frosting. I wasn't really interested in making that. Banana bread is good, but it isn't a cake. Fortunately, my favorite cakebook (which I have referenced before), CakeLove had a banana cake recipe called Mr. Banana Legs. I made the Italian Buttercream, also from this book, to go with it.

This cake was delicious!! It was the first time I'd made it and I am always nervous when I make something new. It's not as dense as banana bread and oh man, it is so good. The only alterations I made from the original recipe is that I used amaretto instead of rum (because I didn't have rum) and I used not fresh nutmeg. I've made the buttercream before and it was great, but this time it tasted too buttery (imagine! after 4 sticks of butter!) so I added flour which helped quite a bit. I had used TJ's brand butter last time, and Ralph's brand butter this time, so maybe the Ralph's one was somehow different? But even before when I made it and it was quite good, it was still buttery. Next time I'm going to add an extra egg white and cut out one stick of butter....

Banana Cake

Dry Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp potato starch
1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Liquid Ingredients
3 very ripe bananas (tip! to ripen yellow bananas, put in 300 degree oven until black, flipping over once. allow to cool, then peel)
3/4 cup half and half
1 Tbsp amaretto
1 Tbsp vanilla

Creaming Ingredients
12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 3/4 cups white sugar
4 eggs
3 egg yolks (save whites for buttercream!)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper, don't grease!
3. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.
4. Mix all liquid ingredients together in a food processor or blender until smooth.
5. Cream butter and white sugar in electric mixer.
6. With the mixer on low speed, add eggs one at at time, followed by yolks one at a time. Incorporate fully after each egg is added. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides with a spatula.
7. Add the dry and liquid ingredients alternately with 3-5 additions each, starting with dry and ending with dry. Do this quickly and don't wait for things to incorporate fully before adding the next.
8. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer. Make sure to get the flour off the bottom!
9. Mix on medium for 15-30 seconds until everything is mixed in.
10. Pour batter into two pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 25 minutes in the pan. Then remove from pan (remember to remove parchment paper from the bottom!) and cool fully before frosting.

Amaretto Buttercream
5 egg whites
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cold water
4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1 Tbsp pieces
1/4 cup amaretto
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup flour (optional?)

1. Heat 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in saucepan until it reaches 245 degrees (use a candy thermometer!).
2. While the sugar mixture is heating, put the 5 egg whites in a mixer and beat until stiff peaks form.
3. Once stiff peaks form, keep mixer running and add 1/4 cup sugar.
4. When the sugar reaches 245, pour into egg white mixture and mix on high for 2 minutes. Then reduce the speed to medium and mix until cooled (about 4 minutes).
5. Add the butter 1 Tbsp at a time and then beat on high until butter is fully incorporated.
6. Add amaretto and vanilla and beat on high until fully incorporated.
7. Taste! If it's too buttery add flour, a few Tbsps at a time, until you like the flavor.

Assembling the cake!
1. Cut tops off of the cake (so they are flat) and eat them! (I didn't do this, so that is why the cake is round on top and sort of falling over. I always think about cutting off the tops, but I'd rather have a slightly larger leaning tower of pisa cake... and so I never actually do...)
2. Put one of the cakes on a cake plate.
3. Put a thick layer of frosting on the cake.
4. Put the other cake on top of the frosting.
5. Frost the tops and sides.
6. Spread 1/3 cup of chopped pecans on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar. Toast/roast for ~7 minutes at 400 degrees, making sure the pecans don't burn.
7. Slice 1-2 bananas.
8. Arrange bananas and pecans on cake to cover up your poor frosting job and to add deliciousness.


  1. I'm actually not a big fan of the cakes from CakeLove bakeries cause I think the frosting tastes like straight butter, so I'm not surprised it turned out that way last time! I wonder what the difference was this time, too.

  2. I have never thought of banana cake as particularly appealing, but this is making me rethink my position. It sounds really yummy!

  3. Amber, I've made a few frostings from the book and almost all of them use 4 sticks of butter! It's kind of obscene, but usually it doesn't taste quite so buttery. My only thought is that the Ralph's butter might have been more salty, even though both were "unsalted" I don't know if that means there is just a little bit of salt added? That's my only guess, they were both cheap butters! It's not like I added a fancy butter one time and a cheap butter the other time...

    But yes, Heather, I was scared when he asked for a banana cake, but this one has just the right amount of banana flavor!