You could bite your nails right now, you could doomscroll through social media, or you could do what I’ve been doing: stressbake.
Stressbaking isn’t so much a strategy, as it is a state of mind. It’s where your body — your hands, your stomach, your taste buds — jump up into your brain and say: “Halt! No more perseverating. There’s work to be done.” In this case, the work involves taking very ripe bananas off of your counter and turning them into a cake.
I chose a banana cake instead of banana bread because (1) the best banana bread is basically cake anyway; and (2) I saw a recipe for fermented banana cake in Nicole Rucker’s book, Dappled, that caught my eye, even though I didn’t have many of the ingredients it called for, including fermented bananas (which you start a few days prior to making the recipe).
I didn’t let that stop me! Nicole says instead of fermenting the bananas, you can add some a splash of booze, so I went with rum. My other substitutions (based on what I had around) involved whole fat yogurt instead of sour cream, maple syrup instead of honey, and oats instead of wheat bran.
The recipe itself couldn’t be simpler: you mix the dry stuff, you mix the wet stuff, you pour the wet stuff into the dry stuff and then add some sliced bananas and sprinkle with sugar (I didn’t have Turbinado, so I used granulated). As Nicole said to me over Instagram: “Congrats on inventing your own recipe.”
One of my baking strategies, lately, is to rub a ton of softened butter all over the cake pan before pouring in the batter because (a) it helps the cake detach later; and (b) it adds a lot of flavor (which is why I keep softened butter on the counter and avoid using cooking spray if I can; not for any snobby reasons, just because the butter has so much more impact).
When this cake was done baking (I use dry spaghetti to test it), I decided to broil the top for more pizzazz.
True, I may have burned some of the edges, but that’s nothing a little powdered sugar couldn’t fix.
It was a lovely cake and a soothing balm for these stressful times we’re in, especially these final moments before the election.
So if you have some dark bananas on the counter, and the nerve to make some substitutions, give your brain a rest and listen to your body. Stressbake this banana cake; you won’t regret it.
Banana Cake with Rum
- Softened butter for greasing
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup sour cream or whole fat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar It's a lot of sugar but that's what makes it a cake.
- 1 cup mashed bananas from very ripe bananas, about two whole bananas In the original recipe, you ferment the bananas for a few days.
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon rum or whiskey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup wheat bran or old-fashioned oats
- 2 large bananas
- Turbinado sugar or granulated sugar
- Heat oven to 350 and grease a 9-inch springform pan with the softened butter, about a tablespoon.
- Sift or whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Combine the sour cream (or yogurt), brown sugar, mashed bananas, olive oil, honey (or maple syrup), eggs, rum (or whiskey), and salt in a separate bowl. Add the wheat bran (or oats) and mix until no dry bits of bran remain. Allow the mixture to sit for five minutes before continuing.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until no dry bits of flour remain.
- Pour the batter into the springform pan. Cut the remaining two bananas diagonally into 1-inch-long slices. Arrange the banana slices on top of the batter and sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar (or, if you don't have, the granulated sugar).
- Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 45 minutes to an hour. For extra pizzazz, you can broil the top of the cake, just keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Cool the cake completely in the pan, then transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve at room temperature.
Banana Cream Pie (The Splendid Table)
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (New York Times)