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Hello readers! It’s been a long time. My Master Plan for Blog Continuity went right off the rails in mid-April, shortly after my (very fun) experience with the Peoplehood of the Traveling Swirly Pan. I knew my writing was going to slow down, but I didn’t expect it to stop. If you’re reading this post… hi! Thank you! Glad to be back.

So here’s what happened: in late June we hopped into a moving truck with two cats, a dog, and lots (and lots and lots) of boxes… and moved to Maine. This was a very good move for us, and we were both excited, but I think we underestimated how complicated it is to move cross-country. When we were 20-something babies going west, it was so easy. This time, packing was a little more involved than I expected (I had TWO KITCHENS) and I thought it might be smart to plan out each day of the trip– how long we would travel, where we would stop for meals and to sleep– instead of winging it like we did in 1998. Great idea, right? When I wasn’t researching hotels in Gillette, WY, I was spending as much time as possible with Seattle friends, and eating out fairly often: one more trip for tacos at El Camion, one more bowl of pho from our local spot, one more book group meeting at Lola, etc. I sure didn’t factor in how challenging it might be to cook with most of my kitchen gear in boxes and zero free time to recipe test in my usual leisurely way, and then find time to write and edit. So here it is November… can you believe it?… and I am mostly settled, and my shame about my Master Plan failing so spectacularly is pretty much gone, and I am cooking and baking and ready to write.

So let’s talk about banana spice cake. This is not the recipe I thought I would write as my First Post From Maine. I had grand plans of a themed return, maybe even a “guess where I am?” series with recipes featuring blueberries, maple syrup, lobster, Allen’s Coffee Brandy, etc. I thought I would at least lead with whoopie pies: at one point my Master Plan included creating a Seattle-themed whoopie pie as my last West Coast recipe, then writing about traditional whoopie pies when I got to Maine. Well, that didn’t happen. (Yet. Those Seattle-style whoopie pies are still front and center in my recipe testing plans, so stay tuned.) Anyway, the best laid plans and all that. One day last month I was staring at some very ripe bananas and got the idea to create a cake that was a happy marriage of banana bread and spice cake. Banana spice cake has brown sugar and buttermilk for texture and moisture; cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice for flavor; and is topped with an easy cream cheese frosting because why not? This banana spice cake was an instant hit with my family. (I *swear* they are letting the bananas get too ripe in the fruit bowl now so I will make it again… and I really don’t mind.) A few weeks ago I started mixing one up while dinner was in the oven and it was done and frosted in time for dessert. I realized at that point I was inspired to share the recipe, eager to jot down some notes and write again (hooray!). Even if banana spice cake was never part of the Plan, it is the right recipe right now, and so here it is.

The leaves are mostly on the ground now and it is getting legitimately cold. I don’t mind; I have a good winter coat, cute hats, and new Bean boots, so I am ready! I look forward to having more time to cook, bake and plan while it’s cold and (dare I say it) SNOWY outside, and more time to write so I can share my recipes with you. As for this banana spice cake– if you’re looking for a warm, gently spiced, easy, autumnal recipe, this is worth a try. I promise it won’t be my last recipe post for six months. Thanks for reading!

Banana Spice Cake (adapted from Kitchen Treaty)

For the cake:

  • 8 T. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large (or 4 small) very ripe, soft bananas
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 T. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 c. sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
  • 3 T. whole milk (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil or spray a 13″ x 9″ glass or ceramic pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until well combined. Add the bananas, which should be so ripe you don’t need to mash them… but if they’re not quite there, mash them a little with a fork before adding to the bowl. Mix until you have a lumpy (from the bananas) batter.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and kosher salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined.

Spread the batter evenly in your pan and bake for 35-45 mins, until the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes back clean. Let the cake cool for at least 30 mins. before frosting.

While the cake cools, make your frosting: In a clean mixer bowl, whip the cream cheese, 3 T. butter, vanilla and salt until smooth. Sift in the confectioner’s sugar and mix until combined.

Optional: To play up the spices in the cake, add an extra 1/2 tsp. cinnamon to the frosting. To make a slightly thinner, looser icing-style frosting, add 3 T. milk.

Serve the cake warm or at room temperature. It will keep, covered, for about 3-4 days.