When life gives you a bunch of heavily freckled, extremely mature bananas, there are a few applications one immediately thinks of for their employment. There are the usual suspects like banana muffins and banana bread, and this recipe is kind of just banana bread by another name–but it’s not usual or common or boring. Baking the batter in a cake pan instantly elevates it to cakedom, don’t you think? Super-moist, fruity from extra-virgin olive oil, and kissed with just a hint of cocoa and coffee for a pleasing bitter edge and attractive, burnished colour, you will feel pretty good about yourself when you eat a slice of this cake for breakfast (#cakeforbreakfast).
This banana cake is vegan and still rises beautifully even without the usual addition of eggs. Baked into 2 or 3 loaf pans (it makes a lot of batter), you’re on the road to some delectable dairy- and egg-free banana bread. And I know I said this was vegan, but it’s really best with a dollop of tangy, plain, full-fat greek yogurt. And coffee. Mirroring its use in the batter, coffee isn’t a dominant taste in this–it’s reporting for duty to foil the sweet banana and nutty whole wheat crumb. This recipe is packable, too, which I have personally experimented with during an early morning road trip on the weekend. I even brought along a small pot of yogurt. And there was unquestionably coffee.
You may notice that this recipe makes two large cakes. This means one cake for this week and one cake to stash away in the freezer for next. If it’s too lofty a request for you to save 8 bananas for banana cake, I totally understand. But try to save 4 bananas from your stash, let them sit until “extremely mature,” and make one cake, at least.
When we’re stuck in this curious produce limbo as we wait for spring greens and rhubarb to appear, bananas have our backs. Before we lighten-up with our big salads and mountains of asparagus, grab a pal (or 16), brew some coffee, and slice this banana cake up (next day is always best for banana baked goods though, as it mellows). I’m embracing the last of these chilly days with a warm drink and, yes, cake for breakfast. Live a little.
- 8 extremely ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
- 1½ cups unsweetened plain almond milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk of choice
- 1 cup evaporated cane sugar or granulated sugar of choice
- ¼ cup tightly packed demerara (dark brown) sugar
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil or light-tasting olive oil, plus more for greasing pans
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground coffee or espresso
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅓ cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
- 1 banana, peeled and cut into rounds
- Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease 2, 9-inch cake pans with olive oil, line with a parchment circle on the bottom, and grease parchment.
- In a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl, slowly mix all wet ingredients until fully combined.
- In a separate large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
- With the mixer running slowly, or stirring by hand, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until just incorporated but fully combined (no lumps). Divide batter between prepared cake pans and garnish with hazelnuts and/or banana slices. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour and 5 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few damp crumbs. Cool in pans for 20 minutes, loosen edges, and invert on a plate, then onto another plate. Cool to room temperature. Tightly cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week or tightly wrap and freeze for up to 2 months.
- Leave out the cocoa and coffee.
- Add cocoa and coffee to only half of the batter for two different cakes or two marble cakes.
- Replace coffee and/or cocoa with orange zest, cardamom, earl grey tea, or matcha powder.