Monday, September 15, 2008

Come mister tally man, tally me banana...crumb cake

Besides the beach, there is nothing more synonymous of the tropics than bananas. In Trinidad, where there are many varieties of this fruit, you can find a plethora of dishes featuring bananas. Cooked at the three main stages of ripeness: unripe, just ripened, and very mature; in stews, soups, au gratin, even for breakfast. When we were both toddlers, my sister and I graciously devoured my grandmother's "banana pot" for breakfast. Made with a variety of small bananas called chiquitos, salted cod fish, fresh tomatoes, onions and local herbs; this was regular weekend breakfast fare in our town.  

Interestingly, as Trinidadians we never tire of bananas in our diet, so ingrained is it within the culture. Although oil and natural gas are now our two main exports, bananas were at one point a major source of revenue.  As in American homes, there might be a bowl of apples sitting on the kitchen counter, in Trinidad there would be a bunch (or as it is called in the country side, a "hand") of bananas.

Recipes for banana breads and cakes also abound. Within my own extended family, there might be enough for a recipe book! My own recipe is extraordinarily moist (if I may say so myself.) So delicious, with  just the right amount of sweetness, and just the right amount of crunch; I dare you to have just one slice. I took a different route with the topping. Traditionally, crumb cakes are topped with a mixture of  approximately equal parts flour, sugar and butter. Here, less than two tablespoons of unsalted butter is combined with pecans for an irresistible crunch. Throw in a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg and you would be singing too!

                                                                       Pecan crumb topping

Banana Crumb Cake
Makes one 9" cake 

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp low fat cream cheese
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup low fat evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large bananas, mashed
2 large egg whites

1. Set oven to 300 degrees F. Spray a 9 inch spring form cake pan with cooking spray and flour lightly. Set aside.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. Whisk eggs whites until stiff peaks form.
3. In another large mixing bowl, cream together butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Add evaporated milk, vanilla extract, and mashed bananas . Whisk together until smooth.
4. Slowly whisk in flour mixture in two installments, thoroughly incorporating each installment into the batter but being careful not to over-mix.
5. Fold in egg whites, also doing this in two installments.
6. Pour into a 9 inch cake pan. Sprinkle pecan topping over top (see recipe below.) Bake at 300 degrees F for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Set cake in pan on wire rack and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before removing sides of pan.

Pecan Crumb Topping
1 cup whole pecans
1 1/2 tbsp softened unsalted butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour

Coarsely chop or grind pecans in a food processor. Combine with the remaining ingredients to to a crumb-like texture.


ttfn300 said...

daylight come, and we... wanna make this cake! :) looks delicious, any leftovers?

Natasha said...

Yay ttfn300, you got the musical connection! haha! This cake lasted three days which is a record our house. By the way, I'm digging your cherry quniao muffins.

Usha said...

This looks it :)

Natasha said...

Thanks Usha! I noticed you also have a recipe starring bananas, your sugar free banana cookies. Banana desserts are among my favorites!

rubybean77 said...

This recipe sounds fabulous! I love the idea of the crumb topping! THANKS!!

Natasha said...

Thanks Rubybean,
The pecans are delicious on this cake.

Marina said...

remember being scared but loved that part of the movie.
i love how that looks too...

House Of Flavor said...

Ahh..this sounds divine!

Amanda said...

oh this looks amazing! i'm for sure using this as one of my baking goals!! so tasty! i wish i had made it already! thanks for the great post!