As usual, I got a little overzealous buying bananas. I mean, the baby likes bananas and all, but come on. I don’t think I really needed twenty. Although, this time it isn’t entirely my fault. My parents gave me some when they visited last week. Alex ate a bunch, but I still had 8 brown bananas to contend with now. In the past, I made some super delicious banana cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. But, they start with a box mix. So this time I wanted to try to make a cake from scratch. However, I don’t always have such great luck with homemade cake. They can often be really dense and dry. But, I figured with the bananas and sour cream, it should be okay. So I pressed on… I was determined to succeed after a major cinnamon roll coffee cake fail this morning. :(
The cake batter was easy to put together and it baked up perfectly. Oh, this was looking promising! After letting the cake cool, I mixed up the frosting. Just 4 ingredients, but holy cow, this frosting is crazy delicious! I almost said forget the cake, let’s just eat this frosting. But, against my better judgment :D, I went ahead and frosted the cake. Yeah, then it would have been a good idea to refrigerate it for a bit to cut perfect slices. Did I? Of course not. I just had to taste this cake. The cake is so soft and tender and just bursting with banana flavor. The frosting is thick and creamy, with a pleasant tang from the cream cheese and just the right amount of vanilla. Wow! I don’t know what else to say. Hands down this is the best banana cake I have ever had. I still have 6 brown bananas left. Heck, I just might make another one….
Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: 13 x 9 pan of bars, about 16 pieces
For the bars:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp banana extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas Totally smooth or a little chunky..your preference
For the frosting:
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar I didn’t sift and it was fine
1 tsp vanilla extract I used 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
To make the bars: Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch metal baking pan. Place 2 pieces of parchment perpendicular to each other, with overhang, and spray/butter again. (This makes it easy to remove the bars from the pan for nice cutting.) In a large bowl: whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, ~3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and stir in the sour cream, vanilla, and banana extract by hand with a spatula. Fold in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in the mashed banana. Scrape the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Tap lightly on the counter a few times to get rid of air bubbles. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Mine took more like 28 minutes. Transfer the whole pan to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar. Mix on low until combined. Add the vanilla and mix again. Spread carefully on the cooled banana bars. I found it easier to frost with the bars removed from the pan (by the parchment handles).