Monday, March 21, 2011

Banana Coconut Cake


Baking for a fellow baker is always a treat. Most understand the desire to try out a new recipe or, at the very least, they're unlikely to request a combination of flavors one could get at the local bakery (yellow cake, I'm looking at you). So I was happy when my roommate Megan said I could make her anything I wanted for her birthday cake.


I had been want to try to turn this everyday cake into a layer cake, and having made a salt-less version of the cake the weekend before at a friend's apartment (seriously, who doesn't have salt?), I knew exactly what I wanted to make with my "make whatever you want" free pass.


The frosting in the original cake is on the thin side, so I knew I couldn't cover the cake with it. Instead, I brushed the cake layers with cream of coconut and made coconut cream cheese frosting for the middle to maintain the lovely coconut-y-ness of the original. The frosting on the rest of the cake is regular cream cheese frosting.



Topping it with shredded coconut, candied banana slices, and edible gold star glitter might be gilding the lily, but it definitely elevates it from "everyday cake" to "birthday cake." And, as is becoming tradition, the cake was served at a dimly lit bar and then schlepped home for a few
2 a.m. forkfuls, eaten standing at the kitchen counter while trying to figure out how to Dougie. Happy birthday, roomie!


Banana Coconut Cake
Adapted from this cake.

For the cake:
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 cups banana puree
½ cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting:
2 blocks of cream cheese (8 oz. each) at room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 can cream of coconut (not coconut milk. I like Coco Lopez brand)
1-2 tbsp dark rum (optional)

Optional toppings:
shaved coconut
2 bananas
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar

Make the cakes:
Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs and beat until well combined. Add the banana purée, sour cream, and vanilla, and beat to combine well. Reduce the speed to low, and add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Finish mixing by hand to avoid over-mixing.

Evenly divide the batter between the cake pans. Bake until the top is pale golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-27 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Then carefully remove the cake from the pan onto a wire cooling rack.

Glaze the cakes:
Mix ½ cup cream of coconut with 1-2 tbsp dark rum (or water) to thin it a bit. Brush or pour the mixture over the warm cakes (you can also poke the surface of the cakes with a fork to allow them to absorb more). Allow the cakes to cool completely. 

Make the frosting:
In a large bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese until well combined. Slowly add in the powdered sugar a little at a time and continue mixing until all the sugar is incorporated.

Into a smaller bowl, scoop about 1 cup of the cream cheese frosting. Add 1 tbsp of cream of coconut at a time, tasting as you go until you like the coconut-y-ness of the frosting (I used about 4 tbsps), being careful that it doesn't get too thin.

Assemble the cake:
If either of your cakes are uneven on top, even out the tops by slicing a thin layer off with a large serrated knife until the top of the cake is as flat as possible.

Place one cake layer on a cake board or platter. Tuck scraps of waxed paper under the edges of the cake for easy clean up. Spread the coconut-y cream cheese frosting over the layer, spreading it to the edge. Add the top layer and frost with the remaining plain cream cheese frosting. Remove the wax paper strips when finished. Top with shredded coconut and candied bananas.

Candied banana slices:
Slice two bananas. Melt butter and brown sugar in a sauce pan on medium-low heat. Add bananas and toss around carefully to coat. Cook 1-2 minutes per side. Allow to cool before topping the cake.

*Note: The middle layer of coconut cream cheese frosting makes this cake a little delicate, and prone to slipping around on that thin (but oh-so-tasty and coconut-y) middle layer of frosting. It slid a little on its subway ride to Brooklyn. So, I'd recommend eating this in the same location you bake it, or asking the subway driver to make the train less jerky.


  1. This looks so yummy! I want to have an occasion for a Liz cake:)

  2. yum yum yum! I love the pic of the plain cake cooling with the coconut cream on it!

  3. Stephanie - I know just the occasion for you! Job + DC = Liz cake!

    Katie - Thank you!


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