Guys. New favorite. And I’m proud to say it’s pretty much the product of my own kitchen intuition, kitchintuition if you will. Actually, the banana cake part of this recipe is part accident, part intuition. I spent a little over a month in Italy last Summer while finishing up grad school, and found myself limited in both the supplies and the appliances that I was familiar with, however I couldn’t just not bake for five weeks. I found a trusted banana bread recipe and took it to the market with me, however my Italian is pretty much nonexistent and I couldn’t find either brown sugar or baking soda or powder. I also didn’t have a loaf pan. I ended up buying white sugar only, and a few disposable tart pans (secret: anything I baked during those five weeks came out of those tart pans). With that and the bananas, flour, and butter at home, I was able to improvise, and the result was this amazingly moist, dense (but soft) cake, that me and my two roommates demolished in less than 24 hours. After that I kept thinking of all the ways I could dress it up once I was back in familiar grocery store territory. What you have here is the first of what I’m sure will be many variations. Recipe to follow after the pics.
Banana Oatmeal Cake:
3 overripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of flour
¾ cup quick-cooking oats
Mini chocolate chips for sprinkling (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and salt. Add the flour and oats, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered tart pan or spring-form cake pan lined with foil (I used one with a 10-inch diameter. If using the mini chocolate chips, sprinkle a layer over the top of the cake now (I’d recommend enough so that you are mostly seeing chips on top), and press gently into the batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
Caramel Topping (+assembly):
1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream (*optional if you don’t have it)
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sea salt for sprinkling
In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, then add cream and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for 2-3 more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add vanilla, and then quickly pour it over cooled banana cake. It will begin to set as soon as it is poured, so quickly spread it over the top of the cake (it remains pliable, but hard to spread evenly once it cools). Sprinkle fairly generously with flaky sea salt over the top. Et voila! Socks will be knocked off.
**Other possible additions to try: adding a layer of chopped nuts or toasted coconut, making a chocolate or peanut butter ganache instead of caramel sauce, adding a leavener for a more traditional fluffy cake, etc, etc.