Banana butterscotch upside-down chocolate cake

May 27, 2010

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For the butterscotch sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 large ripe but firm bananas, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 cup cake flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan with 2-inch-high sides. Line with a piece of aluminum foil long enough to extend over opposite sides of the pan.

To make the butterscotch sauce: In a medium saucepan, cook the cream, butter, brown and granulated sugars, salt, and corn syrup over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter and sugars are melted. Increase the heat to medium-high, bring the sauce to a boil, and boil the sauce, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Pour the sauce into the prepared baking pan, tilting the pan if necessary to spread it evenly. Arrange the banana slices in rows the sauce, placing them close together. Set aside.

To make the cake: Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and granulated and brown sugars until smoothly blended, about 2 minutes, stopping the mixer and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each is blended smoothly into the batter and the batter looks creamy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add half of the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it. Mix in the buttermilk to blend it into the batter. Mix in the remaining flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter is smooth. Scrape the batter evenly over the bananas. Gently smooth the top.

Bake just until the top feels firm when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rackfor 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack. Carefully remove and discard the foil. If any banana slices stick to the foil, replace them on the cake. Cool the cake thoroughly on the wire rack for about 1 hour. Transfer the cake to a serving plate. Use a large knife to cut the cake into squares. Serve with ice cream, if desired.

The cake can be covered and stored at room temperature overnight.