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jrshaul

Making a better banana upside down cake.

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I made Food52's Banana Upside Down cake  and wasn't terribly impressed. I made the recipe per instruction with two additions - some rum added to the brown sugar and butter before being entirely cooked off and 1/2tsp cinnamon added to the batter - and while I liked the overall idea of the thing and the crust produced baking in a skillet was great, but it had issues with texture, flavor, and preparation. 

Issues I had include:
 

  1. Texture. It's less of a cake and closer to bread pudding. The best upside down cakes I've had were closer to a quick bread in consistency.
  2.  It's not sweet enough. The amount of brown sugar on the topping doesn't compensate for the lack of sugar in the recipe.   
  3. My bananas ended up ludicrously tough. This may have been an issue of using underripe bananas, though they seemed okay when I ate one. 
  4. It's bland and - due to the huge volume of buttermilk - sour. This was with the added cinnamon.
  5. The topping was not liquid enough, though I might have just overdone it cooking out the rum. 

 

Proposed amendments include: 

  1.  Swapping the butter and brown sugar for a cooked sugar caramel similar to tarte tatin. I've had excellent banana tarte tatins before, and this is not so different.
  2.  Using a lower liquid volume and less oil or perhaps switching to butter entirely. Maybe just use a quick bread batter and see how it goes? 
  3.  Adjusting the recipe to use a 9" cast-iron cooking pot would allow for a taller cake, which I would prefer. 
  4.  Adding a rum syrup after baking (it's upside down anyway) as per rum cake would be nice. 


Any ideas? 


Edited by jrshaul (log)
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17 minutes ago, jrshaul said:

Texture. It's less of a cake and closer to bread pudding. The best upside down cakes I've had were closer to a quick bread in consistency.


Then I personally wouldn't change a thing in that area. :P It looks like a normal cake texture in their photo, is it possible you underbaked it a bit? 
 

18 minutes ago, jrshaul said:

 It's not sweet enough. The amount of brown sugar on the topping doesn't compensate for the lack of sugar in the recipe. 


An easy fix, add more sugar. You can get a good general idea of how sweet the result will be by tasting the batter. Although, 1 cup sugar to 1 1/2 cups flour doesn't seem particularly low to me so I'm not sure what you mean by "lack of sugar"... unless you overlooked the 1 cup of sugar in the cake part of the recipe and are wondering why a cake wouldn't have sugar.
 

20 minutes ago, jrshaul said:

My bananas ended up ludicrously tough. This may have been an issue of using underripe bananas, though they seemed okay when I ate one.


Got nothing for that one other than try something more ripe.
 

26 minutes ago, jrshaul said:

It's bland and - due to the huge volume of buttermilk - sour. This was with the added cinnamon.


It's a banana upside down cake, try working some really ripe mashed bananas into the batter if the plain cake is too bland for your taste.

 

27 minutes ago, jrshaul said:

The topping was not liquid enough, though I might have just overdone it cooking out the rum.


Are you comparing it to pineapple upside-down cake? Because pineapple will release much more liquid than the bananas will. You could increase the amount of topping, 1 1/2 - 2x the amount of butter and brown sugar called for. That might help with your sweetness issue as well. A syrup always works for adding moisture to cakes after baking so your idea to do that would work too.

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It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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4 hours ago, Tri2Cook said:

 1 cup sugar to 1 1/2 cups flour doesn't seem particularly low to me so I'm not sure what you mean by "lack of sugar"... unless you overlooked the 1 cup of sugar in the cake part of the recipe and are wondering why a cake wouldn't have sugar.


I'm wondering if I made a measurement error or forgot to tare out the scale, but there's an awful lot of liquid. It's also kinda oily - the "moisture" they keep harping on about. 

It wasn't bad; just not what I had expected. 

As for the blandness, I'm quite keen on the syrup. Swapping the sugar for brown sugar and ramping up the cinnamon isn't a bad idea either - it's hard to taste anything over all the buttermilk, which I found excessive. 

 

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