This cake has been a long time coming. And it's not that I didn't try, because I think we all know my passion for banana baked goods is not lacking.
But you see, I could never find exactly what I was looking for. It's sort of the way you date a man for a few months only to find out he really isn't your type after all but it was okay while it lasted and you might keep in touch with him for a few months post-breakup because you're bored and haven't found anything better yet. But I'm married now, so that's irrelevant. But you get what I'm saying?
Banana bread is my faithful standby, the one baked good that nearly everyone loves (me especially) and can be pulled together without a trip to the grocery store. But what my heart truly longed for wasn't just banana bread, but a banana cake. And not just any cake - a cake with caramel, and maybe some coconut, and perhaps a handful of crunchy, toasted walnuts for good measure. I am a simple woman with simple desires.
I didn't set the bar too high, I started my search with banana + caramel as my only two requirements. Most recipes included a caramel frosting, but that was all wrong. I wanted a real burnt sugar, bubbling cream caramel sauce to sop up off the plate. So I expanded my search to include walnuts, and the one recipe that continuously made an appearance was this one, and I had no interest in a cake whose top complaint is a caramel sauce that turns rock solid and must be sliced with a knife and fork before eating only to induce a sugar coma immediately following. No cake should require a knife. That's just plain silly.
After much searching, trial, error, weeping, and gnashing of teeth, I gave up completely. I stuck by my trusty banana bread recipes and thought that perhaps this would be as good as it gets. I stuck out my bottom lip, pouted to anyone who would listen about my banana woes, and stuffed banana muffins into my cheeks while the tears streamed down. But as my mother always says, when you least expect it - expect it.
So I got an e-mail last week from my sweet mother with a subject line that read, "Lookey lookey what I found for you, little Cookey." I love her. She's just nuts. But in that e-mail was a tiny ingredient list that sounded an awful lot like the banana cake of my dreams. A banana cake with caramel sauce, coconut, and walnuts. My stomach jumped up a bit with a glimmer of hope - this may just be it. A colleague of hers caught word of my quest to conquer the world of banana caramel cake and offered up a humble recipe that had a definite old-school approach. For the caramel recipe, no measurement of cream was given - it simply said, "Add cream to a good consistency." There was no pan size suggested and the bake time was way off, but I had hope. With a few tweaking and twisting, this recipe is everything I'd imagined and more.
The cake is fluffy and moist, not too sweet (you'll be grateful once the topping hits), a bit like a banana scented pillow. That's a place I want to be. So while your banana cake is making your kitchen smell dizzyingly good, you make a quick and painless caramel sauce, throw in a handful of toasted walnuts and shredded coconut, dump it all over the top of the hot cake and praise the good Lord you finally found the recipe you'd pined for.
Now, a word of warning. This is the sort of thing you may have to excuse yourself from the table to enjoy alone. It's likely to induce oooh's and mmm's that would make your guests uncomfortable. Unless they are doing the same thing, which they probably are.