I’ve used this recipe for several years, and this is the cake my friends and family request of me repeatedly. The combination of the light banana layers and the sweet mascarpone frosting is the right amount of sweet and sweeter. Not too rich, and because there’s fruit in it, it has no calories. Right?
And the rustic look achieved in not frosting the sides of the cake is a nice crowd pleaser.
When I first found the recipe in Food & Wine magazine, I was in the mood to expand the complexity of my baking, which had been limited to cookies, a pear and blackberry cobbler dish I made over and over, and occasional box cakes. In the nearly twenty years Mr. Sweetcakes and I have subscribed to Food & Wine, I’d admired the luscious desserts within the pages, but had never tried to make any of them.
The recipe looks fairly complicated, because it requires separating eggs, adding the batter in batches into the mixer, and folding in whipped egg whites. Now that I’ve made it at least a dozen times, and have a system down—and have moved on to even more complicated recipes—I can tell you this one is actually easier to make than the recipe reads.
For the batter, use the ripest bananas you can find. Much to the delight (NOT) of Mr. Sweetcakes, I store one or two old bananas in the freezer so that I have them on hand. For the filling between the layers, use firm but ripe bananas so they hold up well. If slicing the cake in the three sections seems daunting to you, just cut it in half. It works just as well, looks great, and probably saves someone a few calories.
Recipe: Banana Layer Cake, Food and Wine Magazine, March 2005
Reading companion: Anything from Powell’s Books in Portland, where I was fortunate enough to spend several of my Memorial Day weekend hours. Because my reading has leaned toward feeding my wanderlust lately, I recommend this book: The Lost Girls, by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, and Amanda Pressner. It's about three friends who ditch their jobs and travel together for a year.