Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Boozey Banana Crumb Cake

Ahh, at last!  At last it's beginning to feel like fall! The days are finally full of crisp breezes, the trees lining the streets in my town are beginning to change colors, and it's getting darker earlier every day.  I love this season, and am so happy that it's finally starting to feel like it!  I'm pumped, and oh so ready.  I'm itching to get in my kitchen and spend hours baking all kinds of seasonal treats.  Knowing that turning my oven on won't heat up my kitchen and make it unbearable to be in, but rather, will make it nice and toasty is such a welcome change. Cinnamon, spices, apples, and maple syrup will be the stars of all my recipes that are coming up, which is perfect because they're some of my favorite ingredients.  Pumpkin will be featured now and again, so pumpkin lovers don't need to worry.  I may not be as enthusiastic about pumpkin as most people are, but I do love a good pumpkin muffin or biscotti every now and then.  I just happen to like apple things and cinnamon things more.  In the meantime, however, it's time to appreciate something that's not necessarily a traditional fall flavor, but is still pretty damn good regardless.  Banana crumb cake.  Not just any banana crumb cake though.  This one's been spiked with rum.  Yes, it's really as good as it sounds.  Let's recount how I ended up making something that's not a conventional fall flavor during a time when I supposedly can't wait to get my fall baking started.

Considering that I have very few banana recipes on the blog, and the fact that there were suddenly several overly ripe bananas in my kitchen, I decided that it was time to take advantage of this lucky coincidence.  I'm the type of person that likes her bananas to be a bit more on the green, only slightly speckled side, so I tend to eat bananas within a few days of buying them.  As a result, I almost never, ever, ever have ripe bananas, which is a shame, because I actually really do love all banana flavored things.  Banana bread, muffins, and banana caramel cupcakes...these are all so good.  I'd post more banana flavored recipes if I had a bit more self control to let the bananas get all brown, super ripe, and sweet, but that's just not how I roll.  This time, however, three super brown splotchy, and frankly, ugly looking, bananas were in my kitchen just waiting to be used.  I had thought about making a regular banana bread, and then sprucing it up with a crumb topping and some other kind of mix-in's and flavorings, but then I figured that if I was going to go with a crumb topping, that I might as well just go all the way and make myself a really delicious crumb cake.  The flavorings were easy.  Booze, rum in this case, make all baked goods taste better, and caramelizing anything with brown sugar is a win-win situation.  

I didn't want to just add a teaspoon of rum to the crumb cake batter and call it a day.  I could have, but that didn't seem to be a good enough way to really make this a "boozey cake."  Flavoring the bananas themselves seemed to be a much better approach.  I thought about slicing the bananas and cooking them in a skillet with some butter, rum, and brown sugar, but I ended up roasting them under the broiler.  It's slightly less work, but more importantly, it's one of my favorite techniques for flavoring fruit.  My family has always roasted ripe plantains in the oven, which is a popular way of preparing plantains in Colombia.  The plantain turns unbelievably sweet and soft, and develops an amazing, almost caramelized flavor.  It's one of my favorite ways of eating plantains, and I decided to use the same technique to prepare the bananas for this crumb cake.  I brushed them with rum, sprinkled a good amount of brown sugar on top, and then placed them underneath the broiler for a few minutes, just so that the brown sugar caramelized and began to bubble.  

The roasted bananas developed a lovely flavor, and were exactly what my boozey crumb cake needed.  I followed the recipe for my favorite crumb cake, which I posted a couple months ago, simply adding the mashed boozey bananas and a bit of rum to the batter.  The oil is omitted on purpose, so don't worry, there is no typo there; it's simply not needed with the amount of moisture coming from the bananas.  The next time I make this cake, I may add just a bit more rum to the batter, but this is definitely up to your own taste.  Add more or less rum to suit your liking.  This crumb cake is unbelievably moist and full of sweet banana flavor, with hints of rum throughout.  It's topped with more sweet, buttery crumbs than you could imagine, and the combination of the two is perfectly perfect.  Save your bananas so that they turn brown and make yourself a giant crumb cake, or two.  You'll be glad you did!

Boozey Banana Crumb Cake
recipe adapted from Baked Bree


For the Bananas

3 medium ripe bananas
2 tablespoons brown sugar (approximately)
2 tablespoons rum (or more, if you want...)

For the Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons rum

For the Crumb Topping

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled

powdered sugar, for dusting


Line a small baking sheet or dish (I used a 1/4 sheet pan) with aluminum foil (for the sake of easy cleanup). Peel your bananas and arrange them on the baking sheet.  Prick them a couple of times all over with a fork. Brush the bananas with 2 tablespoons of rum (or more, if you're feeling bold), and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar on top (or more, if you're feeling sweet).  Turn your broiler on high, and broil the bananas until the sugar begins to bubble and the bananas begin to burn slightly, about 7 minutes.  Keep an eye on them! Remove the bananas from the oven and allow them to cool slightly.  Dump the bananas into a bowl, making sure to scrape all that burnt sugary rum mixture into the bowl as well.  Mash the bananas with a fork.  

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, and position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Spray a 9x13 pan with baking spray.

In a bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 cups of  flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, egg, milk, vanilla extract, and rum. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing just until the batter comes together.  

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and set aside.  To prepare the crumb topping, in a bowl, combine the 2 1/2 cups of flour with the brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter to the flour mixture, and stir the mixture together until large crumbs form. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the prepared cake batter.  Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  

Rotate the pan at least once during the baking time.  Remove the cake from the oven, and allow it to cool completely before dusting the cake with powdered sugar, and cutting it into squares.  Enjoy!

Makes 1 9x13 inch cake


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