Banana Cake with Maple Buttercream Frosting
On our recent vacation to Montreal and Quebec City, Canada, we tasted all things maple.
Maple candy-coated soft serve ice cream cones.
Profiteroles with maple syrup ice cream.
Even the whisky has maple syrup in it. Yum, yum … what?!
Canadians love their maple syrup, and no wonder. Quebec province produces two-thirds of the world’s maple syrup (according to our tour bus driver, who has never lied to us before). After tasting pure maple syrup, there is no going back. This is not “pancake” syrup, which, if you read the label, doesn’t even have maple syrup in it!
The only ingredient in maple syrup is 100% pure maple syrup from trees. In Canada, the syrup comes from one of three trees, the Sugar Maple tree being the one we saw most of as its leaves were turning scarlet in the crisp autumn weather … at least I think these trees are Sugar Maples. For some bizarre reason, we did not purchase any syrup in Canada, but I did find a Canadian Grade A Dark Robust maple syrup at Trader Joe’s ($12.99), which I used for the maple buttercream frosting (Grade A Dark Robust was formerly known as Grade B).
So what does this have to do with banana cake? Upon our return from Canada, a friend forwarded me a recipe for Sour Cream Maple Cake with Maple Buttercream Frosting. The first time I made the cake, I liked it, but it was missing something … it tasted like it needed bananas. Not just any bananas, mind you, but bananas caramelized in maple syrup! That’s the ticket, EH? Or NOT … it was good but not perfect. I made it again and finally decided what I really wanted was a banana cake with maple frosting. I mentioned this to my friend Susan, and she said, “You have to try my mom’s Banana Cake!”
According to Susan, this cake was a childhood staple and one of her mom’s signature dishes, right up there with something called Friday Night Chicken. One of Susan’s cousins used this cake as a tier in her wedding cake … it’s that good. Their family tradition is to frost it with chocolate frosting, but I had maple on the mind.
Speaking of maple, this Maple Buttercream Frosting is “Eat it right out of the bowl good,” and pairs perfectly with banana cake. This is exactly what I was thinking of when making that other cake.
Important note on the bananas: brown spots make for sweeter bananas. If your banana is green or just ripe, it is not going to be as sweet and moist. Go for those ugly spotted brown, even black, bananas.
Mash the bananas with a fork or toss them in the stand mixer before you start the cake.
This is Grandma Eleanor’s recipe, but I fine-tuned the ingredient list a tad and made it into an 8-inch round layer cake to use more of the maple frosting.
This cake is truly the best banana cake I’ve ever tasted! Moist and delicious, bursting with banana flavor. Serve it like Grandma Eleanor with chocolate frosting or try the maple buttercream … Go bananas!
Banana Cake Ingredients
2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
½ t. kosher or fine sea salt
1 c. sugar
6 T. unsalted butter, softened but still cool to the touch (3/4 stick)
1 large egg, beaten
8 oz. sour cream (1/2 pint, regular not low fat)
1 c. mashed bananas (about 3 large ripe bananas)
1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c. toasted pecan pieces
Grade A Dark Robust maple syrup for drizzling (not pancake syrup)
Cake Directions and Assembly:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two 9-inch round pans by lining the bottoms with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick baking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about two minutes. Add the egg and sour cream and beat on medium-high speed until combined. Stir in the mashed bananas and lemon juice.
Pour the flour mixture into the wet mixture and stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. The batter will be thick and lumpy. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and place in the oven, making sure the pans have space between them for the air to circulate.
Bake 25-30 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the cakes from the pans, flip over, and remove the parchment paper.
While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.
Maple Buttercream Frosting
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
2 c. powdered (confectioners) sugar
2 T. sour cream, at room temperature
3 T. pure maple syrup – Grade A Dark Robust (not pancake syrup!)
½ t. kosher or fine sea salt
In a deep mixing bowl, cream the butter with a handheld mixer on medium speed (or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment), 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until combined. Add the remaining ingredients and beat at medium-high speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not overbeat. Refrigerate until ready to frost. Bring to room temperature before using it.
Once the cake is completely cool, frost the bottom layer with half the Maple Buttercream Frosting. Top with the other cake layer and press gently. Spread the remaining frosting on the top. Garnish with toasted pecans. If you would like, drizzle with maple syrup just before serving.
If you prefer cupcakes, this recipe should yield 18-24 cupcakes.
Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Cake recipe slightly adapted from Grandma Eleanor