Eat Like a Princess - Tiana - Banoffee Layer Cake

Our last Tiana inspired dessert for Eat Like a Princess in January is Banoffee Cake. It is inspired by a combination of the banoffee pie served on the Mardi Gras menu of the Disney Wonder, caramel cake, and banana flavors which star in lots of southern desserts (banana foster, banana bread, banana pudding, ect). 
 
For all you food historians out there, banoffee pie (graham cracker crust with a thick caramel body layered with sliced bananas and topped with whipped cream) wasn't invented until the 1970s in Britain. Well, when I discovered banaoffee pie had a stiff upper lip, the purist in me couldn't just make a pie. So after a little research I discovered a recipe for caramel cake - yellow cake with a thick caramel icing all over - found in cookbooks from the 1920s. I used this for further inspiration and whipped up a caramel buttercream.
 
I really think this cake would be found gracing the counter of Duke's Cafe under a glass dome just waiting for a patron to order a slice. It is full of banana flavor with a texture that is lighter and slightly sweeter than banana bread with some cinnamon for spice. The caramel/toffee center, made with the same method as dulce de leche, is not overly sweet so it does not over power the buttercream or cake but provides contrast and additional moisture to in the inner layers.

A couple baking tips I swear by are using Baker's Choice or Pam with flour to cream my pans. I always have cakes easily slide out of their pans when using one of these sprays. I added rounds of parchment paper on this occasion because I didn't want to worry about the bottoms being stuck to the pans. Baking with parchment really means never worrying about something being stuck - however, it also means no "sacrifical" cookies when they get stuck to the pan... I also used my new kitchen scale to ensure the batter was evenly divided between the two pans to ensure each was perfectly cooked! I 100% recommend pulling out a kitchen scale or investing in one. It removes the guess work and improve the consistency of our baking.

When putting together this cake I speak a word of caution to you - it does need a bit to chill out to improve stability during the build phase. Once you add the ring of buttercream to keep the caramel filling in, chill for 15-20 min to further stiffen the buttercream and filling to prevent leaks and dam breaks during the stacking and final icing stages. Also, if you find your buttercream is falling or drooping as icing the whole cake, pop it in the fridge to stiffen up. And guess what - if you do have a leakage it still tastes amazing and you can artistically pull the caramel around the sides from the leak as additional decoration!

Banoffee Cake

Banana Cake

1 ½ cups bananas mashed (about 3 large bananas)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar packed
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Caramel Frosting

2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup pre-made caramel sauce

Filling

14.5 oz can of sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

For Filling:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C).
  2. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into an 8x8 baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and set in a 9x13 baking dish. Fill the larger dish with hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the smaller dish.
  3. Place in the oven and cook for 1.5 - 2 hours. Check the water level occasionally, making sure that it reaches halfway and refilling as necessary.
  4. Carefully remove the baking dish from the hot water bath and let cool to room temperature. Whisk the mixture until smooth.
For Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease two round 9×2 inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper cut to 9 inch circles. Set aside.
  2. Mash the bananas in a small bowl with a fork or in the stand mixer then transfer to a separate bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the mashed bananas. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not over mix. The batter will be slightly thick. A few lumps is OK.
  5. Divide batter evenly between 2 pans. Bake for 32-36 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely in the pan. 

For Frosting:

  1. Cut the butter into cubes and then beat it (by hand or with an electric mixer on a low speed) until soft.
  2. Beat in the icing sugar one cup at a time to avoid poofs of sugar everywhere.
  3. Once the butter and icing sugar are fully combined, add in the vanilla and caramel sauce until smooth.
  4. Chill if soft for 15-20 min.

Preparation:

  1. Level cakes by cutting off the rounded tops. 
  2. Layer first cake with ring of frosting, caramel filling and chill for 30 min to improve the stability of the interior when frosting. 
  3. Flip over second layer cake so cut side is down. 
  4. Cover with frosting smoothing top and sides until desired look is achieved, sprinkle with pecans or almonds on top if desired.


The next time I'm making this cake I'll do three layers which will change the baking time to 22-26 minutes. Making this at home I didn't have three pans and I didn't want to wait any longer to eat this than I needed to! If you can wait, however, you can split the batter into thirds. Bake the first two layers off, cool completely, then washing, grease/paper, and pour in the final third of batter and bake.

Everyone who had a slice of this loved it. The hubby, my parents, my six year old nephew, and me! Mini mouse is picky this week about food and wouldn't try it but I know she'd love it. It also has held up really well covered with plastic in the fridge. Tiana would be proud! Banoffee Cake is one of my favorite creations and I'm excited to end this month with such a scrumptious cake. Make it at home and tell me if it gives Tiana's beignets a run for their money! Comment below!

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