, , , ,

Look at me, on a banana kick. I am very choosy about eating bananas, picky even, but we’ve had a lot of ripe ones to use lately and I’m doing mango smoothies as long as the champagne mangoes are perfect… so I baked another banana-based treat, and it’s a good one. At least seventy percent of the credit for this cake goes to my friend E, who shared a picture of some banana bread with chocolate chips and compared it to pound cake. Lightbulb on! I just happened to be jotting ideas for baking projects when I saw the picture; I had butter softened and eggs at room temperature by the time I was done with work and two loaves out of the oven just before dinner.

My banana cake is dense and moist like a pound cake, studded with peanut butter chips because, like many, I love the flavor of banana and peanut butter together. It is richer than banana bread, has a finer crumb and contains more sugar than I put in banana muffins or bread. For these three reasons, I call it cake; I would say it falls into that wonderful, nebulous category of snacking cakes, arguably the best term in baking. You can slice off a piece to have with coffee, then another little corner to nibble on the next time you walk through the kitchen. It doesn’t need frosting but wouldn’t be hurt by a little glaze, maybe even a light chocolate drizzle… You could dress it up for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, maybe a little dollop of caramel sauce. Oh my. No peanut butter chips? That’s okay. Substitute chocolate chips (you could absolutely use both chocolate and peanut butter chips), and get some walnuts involved if you like a bit of crunch with your tea. It’s versatile, delicious and wonderfully adaptable.

As we head toward the end of the school year for so many, perhaps you are looking for a recipe to make as a gift to teachers, or to add to a buffet table at a graduation party, or to treat those tired students as they power through exams… Look no further. No muss, no fuss and fantastic flavor make this banana cake with peanut butter chips the answer.

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Chips

 Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Chips (makes 2 loaves)

  • 2 sticks (16 T.) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and slightly mashed
  • 1/3 cup soured milk* or buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 3/4 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 c. boiling water
  • 1 c. peanut butter baking chips (use more to garnish, if desired)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9″ x 5″ loaf pans and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the eggs and mix well, then the bananas, soured milk and vanilla.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and turn the mixer on low. Stream in the boiling water slowly and run the machine until your batter is evenly mixed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix a bit longer for good measure. Feel the bowl to make sure the mixture isn’t hot– it shouldn’t be, but don’t chance it– and then stir in the peanut butter chips.

Divide the batter between your two prepared pans. Bake for 45-60 mins. (The range has to do with the type of pans you use; my metal pan bakes in 45 mins. but the ceramic one takes 60 mins.) Rotate the pans 180 degrees after about 25 mins. Test the cakes for doneness with a skewer or the tip of a knife; they are done when it comes out clean. Remove the banana cakes from the oven and cool on a rack before serving. Store at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, for up to four days.

*To make soured milk, put 1 tsp. white or apple cider vinegar into a 1/3 c. measuring cup and add whole milk to fill.