I often get requests for cakes with very specific flavors. Other times, I get a request for a cake that is simply salty and sweet. The first thing that comes to my mind is a reese’s peanut butter cup. Then a salted chocolate cookie. Then M&Ms dipped in salted peanut butter. Then pretzels dipped in marshmallow creme. Then pretzels dipped in caramel…covering a banana cake.
Banana Caramel Cake
with help from Serious Eats
1 ¼ cups ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 large bananas)
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups full-fat sour cream
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
8 egg whites
4 ½ sticks unsalted butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Caramel Sauce to taste (recipe to follow)
115g (½ cup) water
240g (1 ¼ cups) sugar
¼ tsp salt
225g (1 cup) heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour three 9" round cake pans (I would also suggest using parchment paper, as well). Mash bananas and place them in a small bowl; set aside. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat melted butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream. Fold in bananas. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Make the frosting: Place a completely clean bowl from your stand mixer over a saucepan filled with simmering water ensuring that the bowl doesn't touch the water.
Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add the butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture (this can take 7-10 minutes and almost always goes through a curdled stage). Add the vanilla and salt continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
Add caramel sauce until you reach desired taste.
Make the caramel sauce: In a 3-quart pot, combine water, sugar, and salt over medium heat. Gently stir until the syrup comes to a boil, then simmer without stirring until syrup is honey-colored (~6 minutes). Swirl the pan to ensure caramelization and continue cooking until sugar syrup is light to medium amber, one more minute. Add the cream as soon as it hits that color and reduce heat to medium-low.
Continue to stir the caramel with a spatula to keep the foam down until it registers 225°F on a digital/candy thermometer (~3 minutes). Transfer to a heat resistant container, stir in the vanilla, and let cool to room temperature. Either use the caramel right away or refrigerate for up to one month.