This weekend my cousin’s son Luca turned 8, which I can’t believe because I was there when he was born and it seems like it was 5 minutes ago. Anyway, I love making kids birthday cakes. I also love eating them, which has gotten a little complicated since I quit eating wheat. But this recipe is so awesome that EVERYONE loves it and nobody cares that it is gluten free. And it’s super easy. (And, with a couple of modifications, it makes the best gluten free banana bread.)
Here’s what you need for a tall two-layer 8-inch wide cake, or in my case, a Number 8 cake made of two layers with holes cut in the centers:
1 1/3 c sugar or 1 c honey or agave
1 cup oil
2 cups mashed extra ripe bananas, which is about four. (I store up ripe ones in my freezer for this kind of thing.) DO NOT PUT IN MORE THAN 2 CUPS, TOO MUCH BANANA MAKES IT TOO DENSE.
1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt or, in a pinch, apple sauce.
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups GF flour mix. (This is key. Use King Arthur Brand, Pamela’s or Cup 4 Cup. I don’t think it matters if the flour mix has xanthan gum. I don’t like that stuff because it’s weird and prefer to avoid it. You want a mix with rice flour, tapioca flour and possibly sorghum. DO NOT USE: Namaste, Pillsbury, Bob’s Red Mill or anything else with bean or pea flour.)
4 teaspoons of baking soda (This is also key. GF flour is heavy. The soda reacts with the sour cream and gives the cake loft. All those eggs help with that too.)
One teaspoon salt
Here’s what to do:
Preheat the oven to 350º. (If you are using cream cheese frosting, make sure you take the butter out of the fridge so it can soften)
Trace your cake pans on a piece of parchment. Cut out the circles of paper and use them to line the bottoms of the pans. This is a great trick and keeps your cake from sticking. Just for good measure, spray the parchment with GF cooking spray.
With an electric mixer, beat together sugar and oil. Add eggs, banana, sour cream and vanilla. Once that is fluffy, add in your dry ingredients: flour, soda and salt. Beat until combined. Let it sit for about 5 minutes while the soda reacts, then you pour it into the baking pans and put it in the oven.
Set your timer for 65 minutes. This is an essential point. GF banana cake and bread needs to be really done or it will be too sticky. Test it to make sure it’s totally done before you take it out by touching the top. It should be brown and spring back. Just to be double-sure, prick it with a toothpick as well. The toothpick should be clean. It could absolutely need 5 to 10 minutes more. Once you are sure it is done, turn the hot pans of cake upside down on a wire cooling rack. Make sure the cakes are totally cool before you frost them.
Modifications for epic GF banana bread:
For one large loaf of awesome banana bread, cut the recipe in half, and use only two eggs.
More than enough cream cheese frosting:
An 8 ounce package full fat cream cheese
Half a stick salted butter, softened at room temperature for a couple hours
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar.
Two teaspoons vanilla
In a deep bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar a cup at a time and then drizzle in vanilla. Beat until smooth.
Sprinkles trick: If you want to have sprinkles on the top of the cake only, make a shield out of parchment paper and use it keep the sprinkles off the sides as you carefully sprinkle the top.
That’s just Luca and Leo with the cake. Luca has a plastic roach in his mouth and Leo thinks that’s awesome. Naturally.