Banana Cake ... Maple Frosting ... Toasted and Salted Hazelnuts ... Yup, I squirreled a piece to bring home from the party. I know. I'm bad.
This weekend is Maple Sugar Weekend in New England and we're headed to a party this afternoon up at the Gowen's farm in Acworth. They tap a lot of maple trees and nowadays sell most of the sap to a larger maple sugar collaborative. Back in the day, though, they boiled off their share of maple syrup. Hanging by the old tanks in Betty and Gordon's barn, you see a line-up of old photos of the family tapping the trees, hauling the sap buckets and tanks, and boiling off and bottling the final product ... liquid gold!
Back in the day, the sap was gathered in these old-fashioned tin buckets. Gravity feed tube lines have replaced most of these buckets in today's sugaring operations. The buckets are left for the family operation making just what they will use. Our neighbors have a few buckets and taps set ... and I'm thinking SB and I should give it a try next year. Could be great fun to make a couple quarts to supply our breakfast and baking habits! But that's next year ...today, we'll gather round a huge bonfire, have a big potluck luncheon, joke about this 'wicked long winter' and tilt a few brews. Then, all the maple desserts will get lined up and Betty will get the 'sugar on snow' ready for any takers. God, I love being a hick in New England and I thank God for the farm families that keep these old-timey traditions alive!
This cake is headed for the party. It's an oldie, but goodie from the recipe box of my mother-in-law. Jane Lindquist liked to have sweets around the house and there was never a day when there wasn't a bunch of bananas lying around the counter top. It makes total sense that she'd have a take on banana cake. In fact, this recipe was one of the first that she shared with me, when I was a newlywed. When our kids were growing up, I made this cake quite a bit at this time of the year. I also used to take it to PTA meetings and Girl Scouts because it travels well and stays moist even after sitting out for a good while. The toasted and salted hazelnuts are a new twist on chopped walnuts that were suggested in the original recipe. Buttery and salted with large grain Kosher salt, they give you a nice hit of saltiness to go with the sweet maple in the the icing.
Grammy Lindquist’s Banana Cake with Maple Frosting
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 c. sugar
½ c. butter, softened
2 large bananas, smashed
½ c. plain yogurt or sour cream
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Waxed paper for lining the cake pan
Making the Cake:
- Grease a 9-inch square cake pan and line the bottom with waxed paper. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a measuring cup and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a deep mixing bowl until the mixture is light and creamy.
- Add one egg at a time, beating well between each addition.
- Smash the bananas, leaving some chunks and add with the yogurt (sour cream) and vanilla extract.
- Turn in the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.
- Turn the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 35 minutes … or until a cake tester comes clean.
- Cool for ten minutes, then flip the cake from the pan onto a rack and gently peel away the waxed paper.
- Invert the cake onto a serving plate and let it cool.
- Frost the cooled cake and sprinkle on the hazelnuts.
Maple Frosting and Salted Hazelnuts
2 c. confectioner’s sugar - plus a bit more to get the right frosting consistency
¼ c. butter, softened
2 tbsp. plain yogurt
5 tbsp. maple syrup
A few drops of vanilla extract
a generous ¼ c. chopped hazelnuts
1 tsp. butter
Three pinches kosher salt
Making the Frosting and Nuts:
- Place the nuts and 1 tsp. butter in a small pan over medium high heat and toss to toast and brown. Turn the toasted nuts out onto a cool plate and sprinkle on the salt, tossing to distribute. Set aside.
- In a clean bowl, mix the confectioner’s sugar with the butter and maple syrup to make a thick frosting.
- Add the yogurt and vanilla extract and mix well.
- Add a bit of confectioner’s sugar at a time to reach a good spreading consistency.
- Spread the icing over the top of the cool cake and sprinkle on the cooled salted nuts.