Here’s the deal. One of my favorite authors is Penny Reid. She has a new book out Beard Science. I loved the heroine, Jennifer Sylvester AKA Banana Cake Queen so much I came up with a banana cake recipe in her honor. This cake is a twist on a classic southern dessert Hummingbird Cake. I left out some things and added others. The result is a DAMN good cake. If I do say so myself. And I do.

Hints, tips, and things you need to know.  I’m putting these first cause they make a big difference with this cake. 


*I do all my cake mixing with a hand mixer so I can feel the batter. I’m sure a stand mixer would be fine. Thing about mixing – under mixing won’t hurt your cake much. It may not have as fine a crumb, but it will still be good, happy, pleasant cake. Overmix and that baby will fall every time. I have the worst luck with stand mixers in this regard. So I stick with what works. For me, that’s a hand mixer.

*As this is a cake recipe is celebrating the south. Butter means salted butter. When we say butter down here we mean salted butter. Unless indicated otherwise you’re using salted butter.

*Freezing cake – Believe it or not. 99.9999999% of cakes benefit from freezing. It makes them moist. That’s right moist cause we’re talking about cake.

* One of the most important ingredients in every cake is time. A cake has to sit. After you finish icing. WAIT. I like to give refrigerated cakes 36 hours. A regular, leave it on the counter cake, a full 48. It takes time for the flavors to develop. This means cakes are a make ahead. You can make them ahead of time.

*And while we’re talking about flavor – This is a refrigerated cake because the icing is cream cheese, BUT and this is a big but, you want it room temp when you serve it.  The flavors are stronger at room temp.

And here we go:

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup butter

3 eggs

5 to 6 bananas mashed (1 1/2 cups)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sour cream

*1 cup black walnuts

**1 cup flaked coconut

*If you want to really bring out the flavor of the walnuts throw them on a baking sheet and bake on 400 for 5 minutes. OR You can pop them under the broiler. Takes about one minute to one minute thirty seconds under the broiler but If you go that route you gotta watch it like a hawk. They will burn fast. personally I don’t think they need it. Black walnuts are packed wit flavor anyway.

**I don’t care for the sweet coating on flake coconut. I dump it in a strainer and rinse it, squeeze the excess moisture out. Measure before you do this.  Oh, and some people are repulsed by coconut. If you are one of them, feel free to leave it out.

Pre-heat oven 350

Spray 2 9 inch cake pans with baking spray or grease and flour. I line bottom with parchment paper you don’t have to

*Sift. Yep sift. Sift together flour baking soda and salt and nutmeg and set aside. You gotta sift. Makes the take tender. I double sift. But you have to sift at least once.

*Beat sugar and butter together on med speed for about a minute. It’ll look kind of creamy and grainy.

*Add eggs one at a time.  Mixing to blend between each addition. Mix till pale yellow and a little thick.  Add vanilla. Add mashed bananas. Don’t take the mixer past med to med high.

*Add flour alternating with sour cream. Begin and end with flour.

*Fold in Black Walnuts and coconut.

*Pour into prepared pans and bake on 350 for 25 to 32 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

*Cool on wire racks for ten minutes then dump and cool completely.

*Now this is when I wrap the layers and pop them in the freezer for at least a day.


Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese

¼ cup butter

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 pinch salt.

*Mix it up. There’s no special order to this. I whip the cream cheese and butter together first then add the milk and then the sugar a cup at a time so I don’t get sugar clouded.  Then add the rest. Once everything is blended mix for an additional two to three minutes. There’s not much vanilla in this icing because we want the cream cheese flavor to come through. The only thing the vanilla is doing for us is taking down the sweet a bit. Vanilla can do that. Vanilla rocks. The lemon and salt are what bring the cream cheese flavor forward.

*This icing is very soft. If you find it too soft you can refrigerate it for about 15 minutes it’ll firm up.

Ice after cake is cooled completely. Or if you’ve frozen after it has thawed. Hint Your cake will be easier to ice if you put them together bottom to bottom.  To make this clearer I’m going to call them layer 1 and layer 2. So layer 1 will go on your plate or cake board top side down so you’re looking at the bottom of the layer. Cover that bottom with icing. Layer 2 will go on top of that one top side up. So bottom to bottom flat to flat.  After slapping the icing on, you can take a big metal spoon and touch the back to the cake in a swirling motion. It’s an easy quick way to make the cake pretty.

*Now pop that baby in a cake container and pop it in the fridge let is sit there for at least 24 hours. I give mine 36 to 48. But some folks can’t wait that long.