Since moving to the tropics, my house seems to have an endless supply of ripe bananas. Two bucks from the man hocking them in the middle of the street will get you about 15 perfectly ripe ones. There are only so many bananas tmy two roommates and I can eat in a day… and 5 a piece just ain’t happenin’. Due to this cheap , seemingly constant over-abundance I have been dreaming up new ways to use the bananas before they turn from speckled brown to black and rotten. You don’t even want to know the countless loaves of banana bread I have made in the past month. (Actually – you do want to know this, since the whole wheat coconut-banana bread I just made was off the chain! I’ll do a post on that as soon as I make it again – it was so good it was gobbled up before I had a chance to photo.)
In general – one of my favorite desserts is the upside-down cake. I mean, it combines fresh fruit, brown sugar-toffee-esque caramel-y goodness and fluffy cake. How is that ever an equation for anything less than awesome?!? It’s not. Don’t try to fight me on this one. This current cake is kind of a clean-out-the-pantry upside-down cake. Excess bananas to use before they rot – check. Half of a container of macadamia nuts that have been sitting on the shelf for a couple of months – check. Self-rising cake flour that I accidentally bought instead of regular cake flour – check. Dark rum that would likely lead me to do debaucherous activities if I drank rather than cooked with – double check! Regardless of how I dreamed up this cake, it was freaking delicious! So good that my roomies and I decided I had to get it out of the house ASAP so we wouldn’t eat more than one slice per person… So, of course, I took it to my local rum shack and gave it to the staff before sitting at the bar and consuming some more of that rum I was trying to stay away from! Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all, right?
6 tbsp butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
4 ripe bananas, cut in half length-wise
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
For the cake:
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 tsp good vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond or hazelnut extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
3 bananas, mashed
1 3/4 cup self-rising cake flour
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup dark rum
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack positioned in the middle of the oven.
Place 6 tbsp butter into a sautepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted add 3/4 cup brown sugar to the butter. Stir until dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Once dissolved add dark rum to pan. Carefully light rum on fire with a long reach lighter. Let the flame from the rum burn off on its own then stir the caramel sauce over the heat until all sugar lumps have dissolved. Add cinnamon, nutmeg & allspice to the sauce. Stir to incorporate then pour sauce into a 9" round cake pan to coat the bottom evenly. Sprinkle macadamia nuts over the caramel sauce then line the bottom of the pan with banana halves. Set pan aside and prepare batter.
In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a standmixer, cream together brown sugar and butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating/stirring after each addition until completely incorporated. Add vanilla & almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice & mashed bananas. Stir until incorporated.
Add 1/3 of the flour. Beat until just barely incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the walls of the bowl, then add 1/2 of the milk mixture. Beat until just incorporated. Repeat this process by adding 1/3 the flour, then 1/2 the milk and finally 1/3 the flour until all ingredients have just been incorporated. It's very important not to over-beat the batter as that will lead to a tough cake rather than a tender, crumbly one.
Pour batter into cake pan over the bananas. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Place filled cake pan onto the aluminum foil-lined pan to catch any caramel that may bubble over during the baking process. Place into preheated 350 degree oven on middle rack. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean (a couple of crumbs are okay but NO batter should be present).
Place cake on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen. Place a plate over the pan then invert the cake onto the plate. Gently lift the cake pan up to reveal the upside-down cake. Use a rubber spatula, scrape any remaining brown sugar syrup out of the bottom of the pan and on to the cake. Upside-down cakes are best eaten warm the day they are made. Enjoy! (Possibly with some vanilla, coconut or buttered rum ice cream if you are so inclined.)