Sunday, May 10, 2015

Banana Split Cake

There are lots of banana bread and banana cake recipes out there, but Ina Garten's Old-Fashioned Banana Cake ,with the zest of an orange, is tops around here.  We skip the frosting and use it to make our twist on a banana split. 

This is the first of this May's portable desserts.  To plan ahead for Memorial Day, this month I'm posting some springtime desserts that travel well to picnics, the beach and neighborhood potlucks.

Banana Split Cake is on the list because it can be baked ahead (even frozen), packed for travel with pre-cut fruit, sauces and ice cream on the side and assembled by guests to suit their tastes.  It fits whether you are living in a region that has seen good, ripe strawberries or are still relying on frozen ones. Here's what you'll need:

Banana Split Cake
Serves 8-10

One recipe Old-Fashioned Banana Cake
1 quart fresh strawberries or 1 bag frozen strawberries 
Juice of 1/2 orange (or 1 lemon)
1-2 teaspoon sugar or honey
8 ounces chocolate sauce*
8 ounces caramel sauce (or cajeta)
1 pint vanilla ice cream 
optional: 5-6 rip bananas, 1 cup roasted, chopped nuts, whipped cream

  1. Bake the cake and allow to cool completely.  Wrap well for travel. Cake does not need to be refrigerated but can be frozen.  Defrost cake the nigh before your picnic.
  2. Prepare the strawberries.  If using fresh strawberries, slice them in large chunks and place in a microwavable container with top loosely on.  If using frozen strawberries, place whole berries in container.  Pour juice and sugar over strawberries and microwave on medium 1-2 minutes, until fruit softens.  This step can also be done ahead.  Cover cooked strawberries and refrigerate. 
  3. When ready to go, pack cake, fruit, sauces and ice cream in a cooler (ice cream on ice).  Don't forget a good knife to slice the cake and some serving spoons for the strawberries, sauces and ice cream.  Cut the bananas on the spot.
 * Jarred sauces are pretty good but making your own chocolate sauce is easy too.  Add 3 ounces whole milk to 2/3 cup of dark chocolate morsels and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir and microwave 15 seconds more if not fully melted.  Mixture will look milky at first then turn into a glossy sauce.  Add a few drops of pure vanilla extract to finish your sauce.  Some people around here also add the barest wink of salt.