Tennessee Banana-Black Walnut Cake
Yields 10-12 servings
Recipe by Katie Watts
2 cups (248g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (180g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup (300g) granulated sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
4 over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (117g) chopped black walnuts
1/2 cup (113g) butter
1 cup (205g) light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups (16 oz. box) powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups finely chopped black walnuts, for garnish
Cream cheese frosting
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
1 oz. cream cheese, softened
2- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Milk or cream to thin
1 tablespoon finely chopped black walnuts
For the cakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 8- or 9-inch cake pans with flour-based cooking spray (or grease and flour) and set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a separate bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar thoroughly. Blend in bananas, eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with buttermilk until well incorporated, then fold in walnuts. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes for 8-inch pans, or 30 minutes for 9-inch pans, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. Cool in pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn out of pans to cool completely.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat on the stovetop. Add brown sugar and heavy cream, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer while still warm and melted. Beat on medium-low speed while adding powdered sugar a little a time; mix until smooth and thick. Add additional heavy cream a tablespoon at a time until the frosting is of easy spreading consistency. This frosting firms quickly, almost to a fudge-like state, so work quickly to frost the cake.
Place a small amount of frosting on the center of a cake plate to keep the cake from shifting. Place one layer on the cake plate, and apply a layer of frosting. Top with the other cake layer, and frost the outside and top of the stacked layers. If the frosting begins to set up, add more heavy cream and re-whip to soften. Immediately press chopped black walnuts onto the top and sides of the cake, before frosting sets up.
Cream cheese frosting swirls
Combine the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and whip until fluffy with an electric hand mixer. Add confectioners’ sugar a little at a time until a thick, fluffy frosting forms; add milk or cream to thin as needed. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag with a large closed star piping tip. Pipe swirls of cream cheese frosting on the top edge of the cake. Garnish with black walnuts.