I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Bananas foster is my favorite non-chocolate dessert. I can’t get enough! I often make traditional bananas foster sauce at home to serve over vanilla ice cream. You can absolutely save this recipe for that OR you can take the sauce and turn it into a frosting like I’ve done here. This recipe makes enough so that you not only have some for the frosting but also to “drizzle” on top. I use the word drizzle loosely as this cake looks pleasantly drunk with rum sauce. Nothing wrong with that!
I got three new 8″ cake pans for my birthday (thanks, Mom!) and thought Mardi Gras was a perfect excuse to come up with a bananas foster cake. After much deliberation, I finally decided that a cinnamon cake with rum-caramel sauce and flambéed bananas would be the cake version of bananas foster. When you bite into this, it definitely screams bananas foster.
Of the frosting, my friend Tanya said, “I could eat a tub of it.” It’s fluffy and boozy and personally, I’d rather have it thrown at me than beads. I highly recommend drizzling rum sauce over each individual slice. Doesn’t it look lovely?
This recipe might seem like a lot of steps but really it’s a breeze, particularly if you’re used to making bananas foster’s signature rum sauce. The frosting comes together quickly and the bananas take just five minutes.
NOTE: The flambéed bananas do NOT hold up well at all overnight. If you don’t plan on eating the cake up the day it’s baked, I suggest either replacing this step with plain sliced bananas or flambéing bananas each day to add on top of each slice. Just don’t layer them in. Luckily flambéing bananas is as easy as sprinkling with cinnamon-sugar and popping them under the broiler. If you’re serving this at a party, flambé your heart out and layer them right in.
Bananas Foster Layer Cake
For the rum sauce:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup good quality dark rum
For the cinnamon cake:
2 cups sugar
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large farm fresh eggs
For the bananas foster frosting:
1/2 cup caramel-rum sauce, cooled
6 cups powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 Tbsp milk
For the flambéed bananas:
3-4 tsp sugar
To make the rum sauce:
- Melt 1 stick of butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.
- Add dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and heavy cream. Cook until sugar has dissolved.
- Remove pan from heat and add 1/2 cup of good dark rum. Now is not the time to use cheap rum because the flavor is important to the quality of the cake. I used Captain Morgan’s 1861.
- Carefully put the pan back on the heat. The rum will ignite. If it doesn’t, you can light it manually with a lighter. The flame should burn out in a minute or two. Continue cooking for one or two more minutes after the flame has died down to thicken the sauce.
- Pour into a heat-proof bowl and allow to cool.
To bake the cinnamon cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour three 8″ round cake pans.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- Add butter to the mixer and beat until it looks sandy.
- Combine the milk and vanilla and add to the mixer. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Don’t forget to scrape the bowl as you go!
- Crack eggs into a bowl. This way, you won’t accidentally get egg shells in your cake batter. With the mixer running on low, add eggs one at a time. Make sure each is incorporated before adding the next.
- Pour batter into your prepared cake pans. Softly bang the bottom of the pans against the countertop to help settle the batter evenly in the pan.
- Bake for 22-24 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool before removing it from the pan.
To make bananas foster frosting:
- Cream together powdered sugar and softened butter with an electric mixer.
- Slowly incorporate vanilla, rum-caramel sauce, and milk. Beat until smooth.
- Add additional milk or powdered sugar if needed for desired consistency.
To make flambéed bananas:
- Turn oven on to broil.
- Slice bananas at an angle and place on baking sheet.
- Combine cinnamon with a pinch of sugar.
- Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar over bananas.
- Place baking sheet on top oven rack. Stay close by so they don’t burn. You want the bananas to be caramelize and have that crunchy sugar crust. This should only take a couple of minutes.
To put it all together:
- Layer cinnamon cake, bananas foster frosting, and flambéed bananas.
- “Drizzle” with leftover rum sauce.
- Pairs well with jazz music. Transport your guests to New Orleans!
Happy Mardi Gras,
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