Why This Recipe Works
Dense, moist banana bread is great. But tender, fluffy banana snack cake is something else again. And while we were working on transformations, we wanted to give our cake an interesting new flavor profile. Banana and peanut butter is a classic combo, but for this cake we decided to get nutty flavor from sesame tahini.
To give our cake a light structure, we creamed softened butter and sugar, which incorporated air into the batter. Adding the tahini at this time (and cutting back on the butter to accommodate for the tahini’s fat content) proved to be the best approach; this ensured it was fully incorporated and didn’t make the cake greasy. Ripe bananas have nearly three times as much sugar as unripe bananas and were the best choice here; just two or three (depending on the size) yielded a cup of mashed banana, which was just the right amount for a moist cake with unmistakable banana flavor. A final sprinkling of sesame seeds was a playful addition that hinted at the tahini inside.
This cake is simple enough to make whenever the need to snack strikes—no special occasion required. Be sure to use speckled bananas in this recipe, or your cake will be bland. It is important to let the cake cool completely before serving.
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 to 3 bananas)
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pan. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda together in bowl.
- Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, tahini, and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Add bananas and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, scraping down bowl as needed. Give batter final stir by hand.
- Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top with rubber spatula. Sprinkle top with sesame seeds. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
- Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan, discarding parchment, and let cool completely on rack, about 2 hours. Serve. (Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
Reprinted with permission from “The Perfect Cake: Your Ultimate Guide to Classic, Modern, and Whimsical Cakes” by the Editors at America’s Test Kitchen.