Fox Valley Cooks: Secret to moist banana cake found in freezer
By Judy Buchenot For The Beacon-News February 20, 2013 3:44PM
Stephanie Bolen shows off her completed moist banana cake that spends time in both the oven and the freezer. | Judy Buchenot~For The Beacon-News
1-1/2 cups very ripe mashed bananas
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup softened butter
2-1/8 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup softened butter
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Mix mashed banana with lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended. Stir in vanilla. Add part of the flour and mix. Add part of the buttermilk and mix. Add remaining flour and mix. Add remaining buttermilk and mix. Stir in banana mixture.
Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch pan. Pour batter into pan. Bake at 275 degrees for one hour. Test cake with a toothpick. If toothpick does not come out clean, continue baking the cake. The cake can take up to 1-1/2 hours to bake. When toothpick comes out clean, immediately place cake in the freezer for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove from freezer.
To make the frosting, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and mix at low to combine. Once sugar is mixed in, beat mixture on high until smooth. Spread frosting on cake and sprinkle with chopped walnuts or pecans if desired.
Updated: February 21, 2013 2:19PM
When lifelong Aurora resident Stephanie Oros Bolen was in fifth grade, her mother decided to start working, which meant more responsibility for her, the oldest of four children.
“She had me make very simple recipes, and I learned how to cook for the family,” Bolen recalls. “I think that starting so young made me less afraid of cooking. I even cooked liver and onions sometimes. Flouring the liver was a little complicated at first but I learned.”
Her father, Steve Oros, often took a turn in the kitchen too.
“He did a lot of cooking,” she said. “He was a fireman for Aurora, and those firemen can be great cooks. He made a Chinese pepper steak that was excellent. He could also make the best gravy. He could even make gravy out of meatloaf drippings.”
Her father passed away a few years ago, and two of her brothers followed in his footsteps to become firefighters.
After her early introduction to cooking, Bolen who is now 57 years old has never stopped. She has always loved trying new dishes.
“My older son was a little more picky about food, but my younger son is adventurous. I love Italian dishes and casseroles and chili and roasts and whatever else I can do.”
A few months ago, Bolen wanted to take something to a football party at her brother’s home. She had some ripe bananas and went searching on the Internet for a way to use them.
“I found this interesting recipe for banana cake and tried it. There was only a little tiny piece of cake left after the party, so I know it was good.”
Like many banana cake recipes, this cake has buttermilk and plenty of mashed bananas. The unusual part of the recipe is how it is baked.
“The cake is baked in a 9-by-12-inch pan at a really low temperature — only 275 degrees. It takes over an hour to bake. And then, right after taking it out of the oven, you put the cake into the freezer for 45 minutes,” Bolen explains.
After being in the freezer, the cake is then frosted with a cream cheese frosting.
“This cake is so moist,” Bolen says. “I think that putting it in the freezer helps retain some of the moisture that normally escapes when the cake is sitting out and cooling on a rack. I have often wondered if the same thing would happen if I put other cakes into the freezer right out of the oven, but I haven’t tried it yet.”
Bolen also notes that having very ripe bananas is important for the cake.
“Ripe bananas have the most flavor,” she notes.
She also uses fresh lemon juice in the cake instead of bottled juice. The nuts in the cake can be either walnuts or pecans.
Refrigerating leftover cake helps keep the cake moist longer. She has made a couple of other changes to the recipe after making it a few times and feels it now deserves the title of “Best Ever Banana Cake.” She is making the cake for the baby shower of her first grandchild.