Banana Crunch Cake

This is the third recipe from an old Bon Appetit magazine that included an article on quick and easy butter cakes.  I featured Sesame Streusel Cake back in September, and Ginger-Lemon Marble Cake in October, so here is November’s entry (just in the nick of time).  This is an interesting rendition of banana cake in that it does not contain bananas.  The banana flavor in this cake comes from a sweet and crunchy banana chip brittle and banana liqueur.  The crumb is more tender than a regular banana loaf, and the brittle adds great texture with its sweet little nuggets dotting the cake.  You can assemble all your ingredients for the batter while the brittle sets up in the refrigerator.  Take care that you do not chop the brittle too fine; give it a few pulses in the food processor, but finish the chopping by hand.  That way you’ll have different sized pieces of brittle and a more interesting texture in the finished cake.  Enjoy with tea or coffee for a sweet snack or top with some banana or chocolate ice cream for a great dessert.

Banana Crunch Cake
(makes 1 9×5 inch loaf cake)
Banana Crunch
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup banana chips
Batter
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk powder
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup banana liqueur
1/4 cup milk, room temperature
For the banana crunch brittle:  Butter a small baking sheet or 8 inch cake pan.  Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a heavy small skillet (preferably non-stick) over low heat.  Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the honey and sugar.  Return to the heat and stir gently until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes.  Add the banana chips and stir constantly until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes.  Pour into the prepared pan (the mixture will not fill the pan.  Be sure the banana chips are in a single layer).  Cool, then refrigerate uncovered until hard.  When hard, break into small pieces.  Finely chop in a food processor or by hand.  Do not pulverize.
For the batter:  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.  Cream 1/2 cup butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a sturdy hand beater).  Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Blend in the lemon juice and vanilla.  Sift together the dry ingredients.  Add alternately to the batter with the liqueur and milk, stirring well after each addition.  Fold in the banana crunch mixture.  Pour into the prepared pan.  Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.  Cool in the pan, on a rack for 15 minutes before turning out of the pan.  Allow to cool completely before serving.
(from Bon Appetit magazine, November, 1983, “Quick and Easy Butter Cakes”)

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