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In the Kitchen With Ricky: Banana spoon cake is super moist and deliciously balanced

UPDATED: Tue., April 19, 2022

By Ricky Webster For The Spokesman-Review

My partner and I last week seemed to double up on the quantity of bananas purchased and found ourselves with way more than we could consume throughout the week. I also have a thing about eating bananas that are “too ripe,” so that doesn’t help.

A banana is too ripe when the little brown spots even begin to show up. I like them bright yellow, with green on the ends and still firm, so I’m lucky if I can get two to three days out of a bunch, and that’s if I buy them completely green.

I really dislike wasting food, and we try our hardest at home and in both shops (Rind and Wheat and the new Morsel by Rind and Wheat) to minimize food waste. So, you can imagine, by the time they started to speckle, I was racking my brain on what I’d do with them.

Or better yet, what I would transform them into – I figured this issue is probably a common problem with many people, so this week’s “In the Kitchen With Ricky” recipe is as an easy one for using overly ripened bananas.

When we think of overly ripened bananas, and what to do with them, we most often think of banana bread or muffins. You can also freeze them and then use them frozen to make smoothies, but I was looking for something a bit different, new and unfamiliar.

This spoon cake is a deliciously balanced, not-too-sweet and super-moist cake with flavors of traditional banana bread, yet different in its own way. The addition of buttermilk helps to balance out the sweetness and overpowering banana notes. It is an extremely moist cake recipe, and it deserves the name spoon cake.

You may be familiar with the term “spoon bread. It is essentially a very delicate, tender and moist bread, usually corn-based (like corn bread) and often requiring a spoon to serve rather than cutting it in squares with a knife.

In spoon bread, the moistness usually comes from creamed corn, cheese or some type of dairy, but in this recipe the mashed banana plays that same role. Feel free to try this recipe with applesauce, apple butter or canned pumpkin puree for other variations on this dessert.

I like to serve this cake warm out of the oven with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a scoop of vanilla, chocolate or coffee ice cream. The warmth of the cake helps to melt the ice cream and create a crème anglaise-type dessert sauce.

It would also be wonderful served with fresh whipped cream and additional sliced bananas on top. I hope you find this recipe as delicious as I do, and maybe you’ll find yourself purchasing a couple extra bananas on your next shopping trip just so you can make this recipe.

Banana Spoon Cake

2 large ripe bananas (or 3 small/medium bananas), mashed with a fork

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk (I like Darigold Bulgarian style that is 3% milk fat)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1½ cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, optional

Zest of 1 lemon, optional

Preheat an oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda and lemon with a whisk and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the sugar, salt and butter on medium speed until slightly lightened.

Scrape down the bowl to make sure it is all combined.

Return to low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each until combined.

Slowly add in the buttermilk mixture, mixing until combined.

Add in the baking powder and nutmeg until evenly disbursed.

Add the flour in two parts, mixing well after each addition.

Add in the mashed bananas and combine until a smooth and homogeneous batter is formed.

Pour into a sprayed/greased 13-by-9-inch pan.

Bake for 1 hour and check for the doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. When it comes out clean, it’s done. Mine took about 70 minutes to bake fully.

Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

To serve, sprinkle the entire cake with powdered sugar.

Spoon the warm cake into bowls and top with ice cream or a soft whipped cream.

Yield: 10-12 servings

Local award-winning chef Ricky Webster, owner of Rind and Wheat and the new Morsel, can be reached at ricky@rindandwheat.com. Follow Webster on Instagram @rickycaker.

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