My friend Michaela was talking up this caramelized banana and rum compote she makes to top waffles, and as I was pawing through my freezer for cake ideas (I’m so into the one-layer cake, they just seem so easy), our conversation came to mind as I touched a bag of hazelnuts. Banana-Hazelnut Upside-Down Cake. With rum. Yes.
I’d also been looking for a way to use this hazelnut oil I love while it’s still really fresh and flavorful, but the cake is packed with hazelnuts anyway, so I’m sure regular vegetable oil (or another nut oil) would also be delicious.
With the evening sunshine streaming in our kitchen windows, the finished cake sort of looked like some sort of extraterrestrial rock surface:
As soon as it was out of the oven, a friend dropped by, and we ate it on the porch, before dinner, pressing our fingers into the plate for the last moist crumbs and revelling in the prospect of a Seattle summer. My neighbor fired up her grill, and as I carried the remaining half of the cake over to her, leaving through my back yard’s gate and entering through hers without knocking or calling, I felt the first strong pulse of our blossoming community. I like it here.
Recipe for Banana-Hazelnut Upside-Down Cake
Recipe 136 of 365
I’m a sucker for one-layer cakes; something about a multiple-layer cake seems high maintenance, but looking at a recipe for a simple cake like this says “effort taken” without saying “project undertaken.” If you’re toasting the hazelnuts*, do that first, so that the nuts have time to cool while you make the rest of the cake.
Serve this with a little rum-spiked fresh whipped cream to bring out the light rum flavor in the cake.
TIME: 20 minutes, plus baking
MAKES: 8 servings
Vegetable oil spray
1/4 packed cup brown sugar
3 bananas, peeled and sliced into 3/4” rounds
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup hazelnut, walnut, or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hazelnuts, very finely chopped*
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9” cake pan with the vegetable oil spray. (I used a nonstick cake pan here, and the cake lifted out beautifully.) Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan, and arrange as many banana slices as you can, one flat side down, in the bottom of the pan, leaving about 1/4 inch between the bananas and the edge of the pan so the batter can go all the way to the edge of the pan. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until blended. Add the sour cream, oil, and rum, and mix again until combined. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and hazelnuts. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, and stir until all the flour has been incorporated. Pour half the batter over the bananas, and use a spatula to spread the batter evenly over the bananas and into the sides of the pan. Add the remaining batter and smooth the top.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes on the bottom rack, or until the cake is puffed, golden, and beginning to crack. Carefully invert the cake onto a serving platter, and serve warm.
*Toasting the hazelnuts will give them (and thus your cake) extra flavor: roast hazelnuts for about 5 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven, or until the skins darken and begin to lift off the nuts themselves. Transfer them to an old kitchen towel. Fold half of the towel over the nuts, and use the towel to rub the loose skins off (you don’t have to be militant about getting ALL the skins off) before allowing the nuts to cool and chopping them finely by hand or in a food processor. Note that chopping warm nuts in a food processor may result in hazelnut butter.