When you think of upside down cake, you probably think of one of two things: pineapples or apples. Pineapple upside down cake is a classic American dessert that rose to popularity in the beginning of the 20th century. Apple upside down cake, which could be another way of describing the dessert known as a tarte tatin, is common because apples are such a popular staple fruit for baking. As good as those two treats are, the thing to note about them is that a caramelized fruit topping is a good thing for a cake. And there are many fruits that caramelize well. Like bananas.
I honestly did not expect to love this cake, but it really is exceptional. The whole thing bakes up moist and tender, with a texture that is a cross between a light cake and heavy banana bread. The flavors of banana and caramel work so beautifully that one bit just leads right to another when you start eating. Interestingly, the flavor from the bananas in the topping works its way into the vanilla cake during the cooking process, so you will end up with a slightly banana flavored cake, although there is no fruit in the batter.
It was delicious while still slightly warm, but the cake still tasted great even after a few days (stored tightly wrapped, of course). In my mind, this makes it not only a good choice for a dessert to be served with a scoop of ice cream, but a good choice for a snacking, eat-it-with-your-coffee cake to keep around the kitchen for a while and munch on when you’re by yourself.
Banana Upside Down Cake
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
2 large bananas (or 3 small)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F.
Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan and wrap the outside bottom of the pan well with foil (this will prevent caramel from leaking later).
In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt together 2 tbsp butter, 1/8 tsp salt (a small pinch) and lemon juice. Stir in brown sugar. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Slice peeled bananas on the diagonal, making each slice approx. 1/4-inch thick. Arrange in a single layer in the brown sugar mixture on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and cinnamon. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the flour mixture in two or three additions, alternating with additions of milk.
Pour batter into pan and spread evenly, ensuring that all banana slices are covered.
Bake for 80-90 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
Once the cake is out of the oven, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen and turn cake out onto a serving platter while still hot. Cool to warm or room temperature before serving. Store any leftovers covered in plastic wrap.
More banana recipes:
- Banana Crumb Muffins
- Banana Chiffon Cake
- Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes
- Caramelized Banana Buttermilk Ice Cream
- Banana Scones