Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips and Almonds
By Mark Bittman
By Mark Bittman
4 ripe bananas
1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sweet butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup half and half
2 1/2 cups flour
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 cup whole raw almonds
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and paint the inside of a 9 x 3 round cake pan with it, then put the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes. (The frozen butter prevents the batter from sticking to the pan.) On a cookie sheet bake the almonds in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so; let cool, roughly chop, and set aside.
2. In a bowl mash the bananas with a fork, add the baking soda and vanilla. Stir well and set aside. In a mixer use the whisk to cream together the softened butter and both sugars. Add the eggs, mashed bananas, half and half and whisk until blended. Add the sea salt and cayenne to the flour and than mix the dry ingredients into the batter half a cup at a time, being careful not to over-beat (a lesson I've happily learned from Mark). Remove the bowl from the mixer. Use a rubber spatula to blend in the almonds and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the buttered cake pan; it will only fill the pan half-way.
3. Bake the cake in a 350 oven for 60-70 minutes, turning the pan every 20 minutes so the cake cooks evenly. Test to see if the cake is done by inserting a wooden skewer. If the top is browning too quickly, lightly lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top. When the skewer comes out clean, take the cake out of the oven and place it on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan, putting it back on the wire rack to finish cooling.
4. Just before serving dust the top with powdered sugar and shaved chocolate. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.