6 Miles Down and Banana Cake!

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January 31, 2011 by buttermilkbaker

WE DID IT! I officially ran 6 miles on the treadmill, thanks to the moral support of my lovely (crazy) friend Rachel. Not only did I convince her to hop on the half-marathon wagon, but I dragged her to the gym at 8am on Saturday morning to conquer the 6 mile mark that’s been staring me down all week long. With iPods and Top Chef reruns to entertain us and half a granola bar, some almond butter and half a cup of coffee to fuel my body, we made it through the hour. That’s one part I forgot to mention the other day: our leading expert advised us to train at a conversational pace, meaning 10 min/mile. While that may sound wimpy to most (all) of you, it’s surprised me how difficult this gets about 4 miles in. We also set the treadmill to 1% incline to account for wind resistance + general adversities you get running outside, which hurts my body. HURTS.

Anywho, I zipped through the first 5 miles at a 6.1 and upped the ante to a breakneck 6.5 (9:13 min/mile) pace for the last mile. And sweet Jesus did it suck. But once those last few minutes of hellacious pain were over, it was all sweet, sweet victory! Rachel and I quickly stretched and made a bee-line for the dining hall for some much needed water. I also poured a fat glass of chocolate skim milk for myself because I hear it’s a great post-workout drink. (Read more about it here.)

To round it all out I scarfed down the other half of my granola bar and a banana. I felt great for about an hour but then a wave of nausea hit and I didn’t know why. A little bit of research and I realized I probably needed salt. Back to the dining hall for lunch–turkey sandwich on an asiago cheese bagel did the trick.

This upcoming week is different than the past few in that the weekday runs are all 3 miles, and the weekend run is only 4. I can’t say I’m sad about that. Looking forward to another victorious week of training!

Onto the aforementioned food…

Maybe I should have named this blog “Baking with Bananas”. It seems like every other recipe I do incorporates them somehow…banana bread, banana cream pie, all of my morning oats.

I suppose it’s because they’re free, and we’re a bunch of cheapos. All of the dining halls here have huge tubs of bananas, apples and oranges ripe for the picking (stealing?) and I regularly swipe several naners at a time. This inevitably leads to a glut in our banana stash and, well, forces me to get to baking.

But I don’t always want to make my ridiculously delicious buttermilk banana bread. That would be lame, not to mention cellulite-inducing.

…not that the banana cake recipe I’m about to show you is calorie-free. But it’s new and different! And who doesn’t like variety?!

I actually found the recipe through Culinary Covers, a blog I love not only for the wonderful photography and recipes, but for the clever concept behind it! It was actually created by the famed Recipe Girl, Lori Lange, and the premise of her new blog is testing cover recipes of various food outlets like magazines and books and reporting on whether they are, in fact, cover-worthy. In this case she was “covering” David Lebovitz’s new cookbook titled Ready for Dessert, and the recipe is formally called Banana Cake with Mocha Frosting and Salted Candied Peanuts.

My version might be called Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Honey-Toasted Almonds. Which would you choose?

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Honey-Toasted Almonds (makes 1 double layer cake, or 1 single layer cake and 6 large muffins)

For the cake: (adapted from Culinary Covers)

2 1/2 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (8 ounces/230 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp instant espresso or coffee powder (I omitted this)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
6 Tbsp (90 ml) buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream (regular or low-fat), at room temperature (I used Fage 0%)
2 cups (50 ml) banana purée (3 to 4 very ripe bananas) (I used 4)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
2. Spray with oil or butter 2 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. (If making muffins, prepare one cake pan and 1 muffin tin)
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
4. In a stand mixer bowl (or large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer or spoon) beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. It should take about 3 to 5 minutes. Incorporate the vanilla and espresso powder. Beat in eggs one at a time until each is completely mixed in. Add half of the flour then the buttermilk and banana purée. Add the remaining flour and stir until combined, but don’t over mix.
5. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans (or pan and muffin tin) and bake until golden and toothpick comes out clean, about 40 minutes. (12-15 minutes for muffins, or until tops spring back to the touch) Cool in pans on wire racks.

For the frosting: (adapted from Cheeky Kitchen’s Come-to-Mama Cream Cheese Frosting)

1 stick butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp. almond milk

In a large bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese until very light and fluffy. Slowly add powdered sugar until well mixed. Add vanilla extract. Tip in a Tablespoon or two of milk, if needed.

For the almonds:

1/3 cup sliced raw almonds
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

Place almonds in a small pan over medium heat. Allow to begin toasting, 1-2 minutes. Add honey, cinnamon and salt, stir until golden. Add water 1 tsp at a time if clumping together. Toast until fragrant but not burnt, about 5 minutes. Pour onto lined baking sheet or Silpat when done until ready to use.

I absolutely loved the combination of the buttery, moist banana cake and the tangy cream cheese frosting. And the addition of nuts on top is perfect as it lends a little crunch to an otherwise soft, smooth bite o’ cake.

This one’s going in the archives–the banana archives, to be exact. It deserves a file all to its own.

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One thought on “6 Miles Down and Banana Cake!

  1. Crustabakes says:

    […] Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Honey-Toasted Almonds (makes 1 double layer cake, or 1 single layer cake and 6 large muffins) […]

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