Earlier this month, just before I left my office for the day, my son Brian called and asked if I would stop by the store on my way home and buy him some bananas and peanut butter for a protein shake. So I stopped at the Sinajana Pay-Less. Located right next to the banana rack were about a half-dozen full boxes of over-ripe bananas selling for $10 each. I like a good bargain – plus, I figured I could use them for baking. Brian was surprised when I arrived home with two jars of peanut butter and 30 pounds of bananas! I assured him that he didn't have to eat them all.

The following Friday evening two old friends, Roberta Abaday and Fumiko Harada, texted me and offered to take my husband, Corman, and me out to dinner on Saturday night to celebrate my birthday. I had already planned on making lasagna, and Corman and my son Keoni were going to make fried chicken, so I told them to cancel their plans and come to our house for dinner.

On Saturday morning, as I walked into the kitchen, my nose was assaulted by the strong smell of ripening bananas. I looked around and spotted the box of bananas hidden under a pile of shopping bags. I had totally forgotten about them! I quickly peeled them and placed the sturdier bananas in plastic bags. Brian could use them for his protein shakes. I placed the really overripe bananas into two large pots, mashed them, and poured one and a half cups of mashed bananas into small plastic bags. These would be used for my baking projects. With the exception of one small bag of mashed bananas, I froze all the rest.

With such a large quantity of bananas on hand, I decided I'd make myself one of my favorite banana desserts for my birthday – banana cake with cream cheese frosting. Talk about a slice of heaven! I found this recipe online several years ago on the Food.com webpage. The recipe belongs to Rhonda "J." It has become a family favorite!

Some notes

A few notes:

One is to be sure that all ingredients, including eggs, butter and buttermilk, are at room temperature before mixing. This will help the cake rise better.

Second, when measuring flour, be sure to spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level it off with a knife. If you simply dip the measuring cup into the flour, you will end up with much more flour than the recipe calls for and the cake will be dense and dry.

Third, this recipe calls for the unusual step of placing the baked cake directly from the oven into a freezer for 45 minutes. The recipe states that this will make the cake more moist. To be candid, I have always followed this step and am very pleased with the results. I'm not sure if skipping this step would make a big difference. I'm too afraid to try! Just be sure to put the timer on or you'll need a saw to cut the cake!

Fourth, this recipe makes a lot of frosting. You can cut back on the amount if you wish.

Fifth, as an option, you can add a cup of nuts and/or chocolate chips. I splurged for my birthday and added both the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Sixth, store the cake in the refrigerator. You will discover that it's even better the next day – assuming there's any left! (Or you can make the cake the day before you intend to serve it.)

Week 15: Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups ripe bananas, mashed

2 teaspoons lemon juice

3 cups flour (spooned and leveled)

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) butter, softened

2 1/8 cup sugar

3 large eggs at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups buttermilk at room temperature

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, softened

1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups of powered/icing sugar

Steps

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Grease and flour a 9" x 13" pan.

3. In a small bowl, mix mashed bananas with the lemon juice; set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

5. In a large bowl cream 3/4 cup of butter and 2 1/8 cups of sugar until light and fluffy.

6. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

7. Stir in banana mixture. (If you wish, you can add 1 cup of walnuts and/or 1 cup of chocolate chips.)

8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

9. Remove cake from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. (Be sure to time it!) This will make the cake very moist.

10. For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth.

11. Beat in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

12. Add powdered/icing sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.

13. Spread frosting on cooled cake.

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