I'd kind of been wanting a bundt pan. I'd always considered stuff like that an excess and a luxury, but I'd been coming across more and more of those rich, dense cake recipes that were designed for a bundt pan. I've never read anything alluding to a recipe's ruin if a baker made a bundt recipe in a non-bundt pan, but I was paranoid--maybe that little tube did something to bring heat closer to the center of the cake to help it bake evenly. *shrugs* All the bundt pan history I've read have said that bundt pans were invented in 1950 for some ladies who wanted an aluminum pan for their Jewish kugel cakes. I've never had them, but I read that they're dense, so maybe there is something to that "bake it from the middle" idea. It doesn't seem to have any relation to the angel food can, whose tube gives the center of the cake something to "climb up" during baking, and whose straight-edged shape makes for an easy release after cooling.
Anyway, I was going to forget about the bundt pans until I ran into a nice one for sale at Sears. When I brought it home and into my kitchen, one of the first things I saw were some ripening bananas. And that's how I came to make a banana peanut cranberry cake.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who's experienced the new pan/old banana phenomenon. I wonder how many other people have celebrated old bananas with new bundt pans, and new bundt pans with old banana cake.
To be honest, I didn't make a cake right away. It was after I read about the Aravaipa Farms bed and breakfast banana bread from a gourmet food magazine that I decided to find the recipe online and give it a shot. The article's writer was gushy about the BnB, and she made it sound as if the moist, delicious banana cake sealed the deal. I'm glad I was able to Google the recipe, and even gladder I'd waited for such a fine recipe to break in my bundt pan.
The final product was banana cake with dried cranberries and peanuts. The peanuts were my own addition; I like peanut butter and bananas, so it made sense to use up some leftover peanuts I had sitting around. The cake really is moist and delicious. I used part 2% milk to replace some of the buttermilk so it wasn't as rich, and it worked out fine. The cake had just enough fresh banana taste without being overwhelming, and it wasn't too sweet, though I probably could've gut the sugar, especially with the sweet dried cranberries I added. The cranberries added a gentle tang to the cake, and I think better-quality cranberries would've cut through the sweet a bit better. In all, it made me happy, especially with a cup of Lady Grey tea.
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour $
- 1 cup pecan or walnut halves $
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup mashed ripe banana
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 large eggs $
- 1 cup (1/2 lb.) melted butter or margarine $
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Mix flour, pecans, cranberries, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, mix sugar, banana, vanilla, and eggs until well blended. Add butter and buttermilk; mix well.
- Add flour mixture to bowl and stir until evenly moistened.
- Butter and flour-dust a nonstick 10-inch decorative tube pan. Pour batter into pan.
- Bake in a 350° oven until a long wood skewer, inserted in the thickest part, comes out clean, and cake pulls from pan sides, about 1 hour
- Cool cake in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Lay a rack on top of pan. Holding pan and rack together, invert to release cake. Lift off pan. Serve cake warm or cool.