Fantastic Banana Cake

banana cake

Most of the recipes here at Discovery Cooking are either developed here or at least very heavily modified. There are notable exceptions, of course. This banana cake is one of them. It’s simply the best cake I’ve ever made and one of the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s moist, light, full of flavor and — depending on the thickness of the cream cheese icing — more than enough to satisfy any sweet tooth on the planet. It’s killer.

The recipe below I found on a refrigerator door in a beach house we rented a number of years back in North Carolina. There was nothing to indicate where it came from. We had one rainy day that vacation and so I decided to try it and it blew my family away. On searching the net, I found dozens of copies of the recipe on various food sites and blogs, none of which pointed to the original. So my guess — and it is just a guess — is that this banana cake was probably published by one of the ingredient makers (a flour company, cream cheese brand?) some years ago and has been passed around.

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Upside Down Apple Rum Cake

upside down apple rum cake

It’s getting near the time when the new crop of local apples will be hitting the farm markets, and around Discovery Cooking, that means the season’s first upside down apple rum cake. I will assume that most everyone at least understands the concept of an upside down cake, especially the classic pineapple version with canned pineapple rings and impossibly red maraschino cherries. This upside down cake is nothing like that — OK, maybe it’s a little like that.

Like its progenitor, this upside down cake is made by placing and topping of sliced fruit in the bottom of a cake pan, covering that with a brown sugar and butter based syrup and then adding the cake batter. When the cake is finished baking, it’s inverted so the topping is — duh — on top.

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Applesauce Raisin Cake

applesauce raisin cake

Applesauce Raisin Cake was a staple for the holidays when I was growing up. First it was my grandmother who would make it every Thanksgiving and Christmas, then my mother. To the best of my knowledge, neither of them had a written recipe.

A little over a year ago, my mother passed away, and for the first time I can remember in six decades, there was no holiday applesauce raisin cake, so with only a few clues and my memory of what it was like, I set out to recreate it. It took a bit of research and several false starts, but this version is a dead-on replica.

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Oatmeal Cake with Walnut-Coconut Topping

oatmeal cake

“Ask your mom to give my mom that cake recipe, OK?” I asked my classmate at Buckeye South junior high. “OK,” replied Susan Zambon. Next thing you know, my mother was baking Susan’s mother’s dense, moist oatmeal cake with the coconut walnut topping. Four decades later, I’m now baking that cake for my 94-year-old mother. Everyone who tastes it wants the recipe, too. Here it is, with slight modifications from the Ohio Valley original.

Because the cake doesn’t rise very much, using the 9 x 13” baking pan favored back in the 1970s results in a fairly flat confection (maybe 2 inches high). You might want to use a smaller cake pan. Or do what I do, and increase the amount of ingredients in the batter by 50 percent. I’ve included the increased proportions in brackets.

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Orange Almond Cake

Orange Almond Cake

So I have this thing about Mediterranean cuisine. I love it all. Italian, Greek, Spanish, Lebanese, Portuguese and Moroccan. Especially Moroccan. And when we recently had some guests for an informal dinner party, one of whom has had some formal culinary training (no pressure there!), I decided to pull together an entire Moroccan menu. I’ll eventually post the various dishes, but this orange almond cake was a real hit so I thought I’d share it today.

I’d love to tell you that I dreamed this up myself, but not so. I found it while investigating Moroccan cooking on the web and so if you want to see the original, here’s the link (YouTube video).

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Apricot Breakfast Cake

This apricot breakfast cake is a light, almost spongecake, breakfast or coffee cake that’s easy. The texture comes mostly from the technique rather than the ingredients.

Generally, the recipe is equal parts (by weight) butter, sugar, flour and eggs. Add apricots (canned are more than fine for this, or you can, as I did, saute fresh apricots with a bit of butter and sugar to taste) a pinch of salt, and baking powder. Some lemon juice and lemon zest make it complete.

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