I went to college in Richmond, Virginia and during my four years there I lived in a neighborhood called The Fan. It was a mixed blend of college students and yuppies just starting their families. The closer you got to campus, the more pizza joints and laundromats, further out were fabulous family-run restaurants, bistros and hole-in-the-wall establishments.
One of my favorite spots was a joint that served comfort food. The kind of stuff my Mom would make for me when I went for a visit. Steak piled with caramelized onions and mushrooms, shepherd’s pie, pasta dishes with creamy sauces and their banana cake.
That banana cake was sublime. It was three layers high, incredibly moist and held together by a decadent ganache.
I left Richmond 25 years ago and I still remember that cake. So when I came across this recipe on My Baking Addiction for a banana bundt cake that promised to be uber-moist because of the special cooking and cooling technique, I was intrigued — if not wistful at the thought of that cake from my college days.
I used my nieces’ visit as an excuse to try it (gotta have a dessert for the kids, right?) Besides, I had overripe bananas in my freezer.
The recipe was pretty straightforward but I was reticent about the baking temperature — only 275 degrees — and the baking time — an hour and forty minutes.
The next, scratch my head instruction was taking the hot cake from the oven and placing it directly into the freezer for another hour. Okay.
My biggest issue was getting the cake to release from the pan. I normally just use a spritz of vegetable spray when I’m baking, but after reading the instructions, I thought I should go the “generously butter and flour your pan” route. I did.
But even then, the pan did not want to give up its prize. I flipped it. I flopped it. I poked a knife between the pan and the cake, hoping to pry it loose.
I inverted it on the cake plate and shook the hell out of it. I pounded it with my fist. Come on.
Finally, I felt movement. The cake, ever so grudgingly, yielded.
That said, the moist crumbs that had been holding it in the pan, were still firmly in place. I ran my index finger around the bowl of the pan, scooping up and devouring the tender bits.
I shrugged it off thinking “that’s what the ganache was for” — to liberally cover up any imperfections with dark chocolate.
This is as close as I’ve come to that cake from college and the kids devoured it. It’s a winner!
Banana Bundt Cake
- 4 over ripe bananas mashed
- 1 lemon zested, 2 teaspoons juice
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter 1 1/2 sticks, softened
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
For the ganache
- 4 ounces semisweet premium chocolate - ideally Scharfenberger Ghirardelli or Lindt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Thoroughly grease and flour a 12 cup non-stick bundt pan - or spray with nonstick baking spray.
- In a small bowl, mix mashed bananas, lemon zest and lemon juice, set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Stir in vanilla.
- Blend 1/3 of flour mixture and then add 1/3 buttermilk until just blended. Alternate flour and buttermilk until batter is just combined, but be careful not to over-beat.
- Add banana mixture to batter and mix until just combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.
- Transfer the cake from the oven directly to the freezer (still in the pan) for 45-60 minutes. After cooling in the freezer, transfer cake to a cooling rack for at least 3 hours.
- Meanwhile, prepare the ganache. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, until hot, but not boiling. While cream is heating, finely chop chocolate on a cutting board and transfer to a small bowl. Pour hot cream over chocolate and let it set for a few minutes until the chocolate softens. Use a whisk to carefully incorporate the cream into the chocolate until glistening and smooth.
- Invert the cake onto a cake plate or pedestal.
- Spoon ganache over the cooled cake, so that it runs over the ridges.
- Store cake covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Good luck getting it to last that long.
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