Monday, September 7, 2009

Banana Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze

I admit it. I am a banana snob. I love bananas, but I won't eat just any old banana. Nope. It has to be perfectly yellow and perfectly ripe, sweet but still firm, and without any of those icky brown speckles on the skin. I know that bananas with those speckles are just fine to eat (my father-in-law has told me this a million times), but I just like bananas better before they get to that point. Even worse, I've transferred my banana snobbery to my older son, as well. As a result, we often have bananas sitting around the house that are unsuitable for eating out of hand. But, being rather frugal in matters of food and cooking, I hate to toss overripe bananas. Until recently, though, I only had one go-to recipe that used overripe bananas and, while I like that banana muffin recipe, there have been times that I wanted to make something besides muffins.

Well, I recently found the recipe below for Banana Bundt Cake that uses overripe bananas, and in addition to being super easy (it starts with a boxed cake mix), it really tastes great.

Banana Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze

1 package butter-recipe cake mix
3/4 cup sour cream
2-3 large, very ripe bananas
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Mash bananas with a fork and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix and baking soda. Add the mashed bananas, sour cream, softened butter, eggs and vanilla. Using a hand mixer, beat at low speed until combined (about 30) seconds, then beat at medium speed for four minutes. (Yes, the amount of time really does make a difference. I just set my kitchen timer for four minutes to be sure I don't shortchange my batter.) Fold in the walnuts, reserving a couple of tablespoons for the garnish. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes, or until center of cake tests done. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Remove cake from pan, invert onto serving platter, and drizzle with caramel glaze (recipe follows). Before glaze has fully set, sprinkle reserved chopped walnuts over the top of the cake.

Caramel Glaze
: Ok, there is no "recipe" for this glaze, but there is a little technique. It's a GREAT tip that my friend Pat shared with me, and I'm so grateful that she did. Here's all there is to it. Start with a can of caramel frosting, the kind you buy in the grocery store in the baking aisle. Scoop about one-third of the frosting into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power for about 20-30 seconds. Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir. You want the frosting to be a thick liquid (like a glaze). Don't overheat! Start with 20-30 seconds. If it needs ot be a little thinner, just microwave it for another 10 seconds and check it again. Once your frosting has reached the desired consistency, simply drizzle it onto the baked, cooled cake, allowing some of the glaze to drip down the sides. Ideally, the glaze will be just thick enough that the drips won't reach the serving platter, but will fall beautifully to mid-cake and stop there. Keep in mind that the more glaze you spoon on any one area, the bigger and heavier the drip will be. So start small and experiment as you go along the cake. This glaze "recipe" will work with any flavor or brand of frosting, but just remember that whatever amount you microwave will be forever changed, so you don't want to use the whole can of frosting if you don't need a huge amount of glaze. Using one-third of the can should give you plenty of glaze for the bundt cake.

By the way, this is a great cake to make for a work function, because it's the kind of thing that LOOKS like it took a long time and lots of effort to make. The fact that it was really super-simple to make can be your little secret!

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