Although my father, a baker and owner of 6 bakeries in Newark, New Jersey in the 1940s and ’50s died when I was 10 years old, I still inhaled his baking passion. My father attended law school and worked a bit in government, but, when his father aged, my father was chosen, among 3 other siblings, to carry on the family bakery business.
I remember, when Dad returned from his workday, he stretched out on our leathery recliner, in our mahogany wood-lined basement, and soon his eyes closed. As a routine, and once I laid a terry cloth towel on the floor, I sprayed Bactine on his feet, which pleased him; his feet and toes jumped a bit from the chill of the green liquid. But he smiled. Bactine was popular in the 1950s for simple bruises and aches. The coolness of the spay felt good on Dad’s aching feet.
Since Dad owned the bakeries, our family always received fresh pastries, cakes and breads on the weekends. It’s a memory ingrained in my psyche, which truly evolved into baking, which I have loved dearly for decades.
I got hooked on banana bread as a child, especially when it was slathered with cream cheese. Initially I found this recipe in one of my over one hundred cookbooks, then the adventure began; I tweaked the recipe as I added more ingredients. I love chocolate in nearly all baked goods, and so I added some chocolate chips here too.
And naturally peanut butter got into the act as well, since chocolate and peanut butter make a great duo. But, I didn’t overdo it, just a few tablespoons of smooth peanut butter mixed in with the cream cheese, worked as a perfect addition for the frosting.
I never imagined a crunch in this cake, but it worked beautifully, and adds a surprise to the palate when you bite down. To get this taste, I cut up several one-inch long by a half inch chocolate coated candy with a solid caramel-toffee filling. I stirred in about a third of a cup of these morsels after all the other ingredients have been added. Quite delicious, and complements nicely against the smoothness of the bananas and the chocolate chips. I also added pecans; they gave the cake a soft crunch. I was tired of using walnuts, so common in cakes.
Finally, another twist in this baking process appeared to me as I pulled the cake out of the oven! I’ll make it a layer cake, and I did. Through the internet I leaned how to cut the cake evenly- arranging toothpicks all around the middle of the cake, horizontally, to get two clean-cut layers. It worked well. And with my new easy-to-use cake turntable, spreading the frosting was a breeze!
3 very ripe medium size bananas, mashed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs – room temperature
1/2 cup regular or light sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Grated zest of one orange, or tangerine, or half a lemon
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped – save several whole ones for decorating on top
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 Tablespoons, smooth peanut butter, or chunky if you prefer
1 tablespoon vanilla
2-3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk, if needed, depending on the consistency you desire
PROCESS — will be finished, shortly – and with a picture!