Last Thursday, we were given an entire hand of sweet fig bananas from a good friend, who is a farmer. We got these while they were still green and as such, we hung them in a hook in our kitchen. You may be wondering why there are paint marks on the skin of the bananas. This is done when the bananas are grown in a cooperative farming area and each farmer marks his produce with a chosen color of paint. I've seen this done in Haiti to bananas and watermelons. Over the last few days the sweet figs have all turned various shades of yellow and green as they ripen. The brown specks are signs of ripening in the intense summer heat, but the fruit is still very firm and cream inside.
There are just so many bananas that one can eat by oneself, and I have diligently shared several bunches with friends over the last couple of days. I like to make banana bread and muffins, and I have shared these recipes with you in the past. Today, I decided that I'd try a new twist on an old favorite given the multitude of bananas currently in my kitchen. Hence the idea for the Caramel Banana- Pecan Upside-Down Cake. I am invited to dinner this evening and I wanted to take something to share. It's a casual affair with friends and the menu will be Caribbean and tropical. This cake will fit perfectly into the theme.
My signature cake is a pound cake. It's a versatile one and can be eaten on its own as a snack, or lovely with afternoon tea or coffee. I love to re-invent my recipes in so many ways, so there's always something different yet familiar. A Pound cake gets better with time and keeps its integrity even after a few days of baking. I usually make 2 loaf pans; one for use while fresh and the other is wrapped in wax paper and aluminum foil to be eaten at another time. I freeze the second cake that same day and it thaws at room temperature in about an hour. It is perfectly fresh whenever I need it. Believe me, it has always come in handy to have some extra treats stored in the freezer. They always come in useful as I very often have house guests and dinner guests.
It suddenly occurred to me that I could use the bananas instead of pineapple to make an upside down cake. So, I made a pound cake batter, and I poured it over a rectangular shaped pan of caramelized bananas and pecans. It all baked up to perfection in 40 minutes and then I unmolded it onto a platter… gooey, sticky sweet caramel perfection. As I made a little ramekin for a home taste test, I know that it's delicious.
I like Julia Child's Vanilla pound cake recipe:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz butter, room temperature
2 cups white sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup milk, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
Sift flour baking powder and salt together. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and smooth. Beat for about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture will appear white and fluffy and increased in volume.
Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl frequently to ensure that everything is well incorporated.
This mixture will make a 10" bundt or tube pan or 2 medium loaf pans. Bake the tube cake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted near the center comes out clean. The loaf pans will take about 35-40 minutes.
For the upside down cake, grease a rectangle 12 1/2 x 9 x 2" non stick pan or Pyrex dish.
For the banana base:
6 ripe but firm bananas, sliced into rounds/ cut on the diagonal about 1/8" thick
1/2 cup pecans
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Lower the heat, add the sliced bananas and Pecan pieces and stir to coat with the caramel mixture. Add the cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt. Stir to coat all of the pieces.
Pour this mixture quickly into the prepared pan and spread covering the entire base. Be careful not to get burnt. The caramel is extremely hot and will dry rapidly.
Pour the cake batter over the top of the bananas. Ensure that the batter does not pass 3/4 level of the pan. You may have extra batter from the cake mix. If so, just grease and flour a small ramekin and bake separately. Over filling the pan will cause the cake to over flow during baking.Adding the cake batter over the caramel base
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool and rest for about 15 minutes before unmolding the cake. Do not leave until completely cool or the sugars from the caramel will crystallize and will become very difficult to turn out.
Slide a knife around the side of the pan to ensure that the cake is not stuck to the edges.
Place a rectangle tray or plate, larger than the baking pan over the top of the cake. Hold firmly and turn over the cake into the serving tray. It will be still quite warm, so be careful not to get burned by any of the sugars.
Guyanese Girl Haitian Soul's Caramel Banana & Pecan Upside-down Cake
Et Voila…the upside down banana cake is revealed and you can serve. This can be eaten warm or cool.
Enjoy a taste of the islands.