Saturday, February 5, 2011

Finally the Banana Upside Down Cake

Today has been a day of thwarting.  I wish I could say that I was off thwarting the powers of evil and corruption and mundane unpleasantness.  Alas, instead I was being thwarted by the powers of the laundry room.  I have a hate hate relationship with the little machine that sucks my cash into it's depths and theoretically puts money on a card that can then be used to pay for my laundry.  Theoretically.  Usually it just refuses to acknowledge that I have put a correctly formatted card into the appropriate slot.

In an excess of despair -- for clean socks are a basic human need -- I stomped off and decided to bake another banana upside down cake to address the imbalance of pleasant things in my personal universe.

Since I had leftover fresh ginger from last night's ginger ale experiment (it appears to be fermenting right along nicely), I decided that since bananas and ginger are both tropical crops they obviously went together.  I also had some pineapple orange juice which I dumped on the topping in the hopes that the extra liquid would make for a less impermeable layer of caramel.

So this is what I did this time.  (Except for the things that I know I did wrong, which I will not tell you to do.)

Banana Ginger Upside Down Cake

 I bake upside down cakes in a ten inch cast iron skillet.  I understand that there are different approaches, but that's what I do. 

1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup well packed brown sugar
1 or 2 sliced bananas depending on size
3 Tbsp orange pineapple juice or orange juice or pineapple juice

 1/3 cup Crisco shortening -- I don't know why Crisco and not butter, but I theorize that because this recipe contains so much liquid already, that the person who invented the recipe I've messed with substantially wanted a fat with less water in it than butter has.  Anyway, I liked the idea of a smidge less cholesterol in the dessert
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2)
A peeled and chopped 1"x 2" chunk of fresh ginger
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract (or less, but in my thwarted state I was feeling decadent)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Over low heat, melt the butter in your skillet.

Attempt to sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the surface of the butter.  This will probably fail, I have never known well packed brown sugar to sprinkle readily.  That's okay, grab a wooden spoon and smooth it out.  Allow to cook unmolested for 3 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat, and arrange the bananas over the face of the caramel.  Be careful, the bubbly brown stuff is hot and irascible.  Cover the surface as well as you can without overlapping the banana slices

Cream the Crisco and the sugars together, beating until light and fluffy in texture. This takes a few minutes.  (I use my stand mixer, and mix up the dry mixture and the wet mixture while creaming and beating in eggs is going on.)

Add two eggs, beating well after each.

In a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup (you can use other things -- but this is the perfect size) mix the buttermilk, the  bananas, the vanilla, and the chopped up ginger.  Take your immersion blender and puree.  (One could of course mash the bananas by hand and grate the ginger, but this is nice and easy.)

In a medium size bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  

Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture in three parts alternating with the banana mixture.  Mix until just combined, and scrap into the skillet, trying not to disarrange the bananas too much.  Smooth out the cake batter, and pop into the oven.

Bake 40-50 minutes, or until golden and a tester comes out clean.

Allow to cool in skillet for fifteen minutes, before running a knife around the cake.  Placing a plate of suitable size face down over the top and invert.  Hopefully the cake will end up on the plate and not the floor. 

*  One can -- and this one does-- make a buttermilk substitute (or use 1/2 cup of plain yogurt). 
1/2Tspp (or 1 1/2 teaspoons) vinegar
enough milk to then make half a cup when combined with the vinegar
Leave it alone for five minutes and then stir.


  1. we need pictures of these experiments!

  2. I'll see if any of the pictures I took came out. My camera's sensor appears to be dying. (Or possibly it needs new batteries.)