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Riddle me this: why do bananas only have a 2-hour window in which they are the perfect texture? I buy them slightly green, and they stay slightly green for days and days. If I try to eat them early, they’re hard and astringent and barely sweet. Then all of a sudden every single banana in the bunch is the perfect ripeness, a glorious symphony of perfect banana texture and sweet banana taste. When that happens you’d better gorge on bananas, because just as quickly as they ripen they become overripe, with brown spots and an unpleasantly mushy texture and a sickly-sweet flavor. Is this a genetically engineered plot by the evil banana industry to get us to buy more bananas? Jason says I’m a banana prima donna, I say there’s a global conspiracy afoot. Discuss.
As a result of my pickiness (or impeccable banana taste, depending on your perspective) we buy a lot of bananas in my house. Those that are not caught during the teensy-tiny banana-eatin’ window are usually frozen for smoothies, but I do sometimes save out a bunch for baking, which is how this banana layer cake was born.
I love banana cakes because they’re naturally very moist, so they’re a great make-ahead dessert and they keep well. I often pair them with caramel or chocolate frosting, but this time I wanted to try something different. The filling in this tall layer cake is an easy ganache made from white chocolate, sour cream, and cinnamon. It’s made in the microwave, and has a wonderful fudgy texture, with a tangy cinnamon-vanilla flavor that goes beautifully with the banana cake.
The real star, though, is the fluffy meringue topping that covers the cake. If you’ve always struggled with getting perfectly smooth buttercream edges, or with making gloopy cream cheese frosting behave properly, then meringue frosting might be your Mr. Right. It ‘s perfect when it’s imperfect, and it’s just begging to be swooped and swirled with abandon. And of course, torching it until golden brown doubles the sexiness quotient.
Every time I make a banana cake, I’m reminded that being a banana prima donna isn’t a bad thing. I get to enjoy creamy smoothies every morning, banana baked goods on a regular basis, and, once in a blue moon, an absolutely, perfectly, ripe banana. That’s a win-win-win situation! Happy baking and banana-eating, friends!
Banana Meringue Cake with Cinnamon-Sour Cream Ganache
For the Banana Cake:
- 12.75 oz all-purpose flour, 3 cups
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 6 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 15.75 oz granulated sugar, 2.25 cups
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 9 oz sour cream, 1 cup + 2 tbsp, at room temperature
- 2 cups mashed bananas, from about 5 large bananas
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Cinnamon-Sour Cream Ganache:
- 1.87 lbs white chocolate, finely chopped (about 5 cups)
- 1.5 lbs sour cream, 3 cups
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
For the Meringue:
- 6 egg whites
- 9.3 oz granulated sugar, 1.3 cups
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
To Make the Banana Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C). Line four 8" round cake pans with parchment paper, and spray the pans with nonstick cooking spray. (Disposable foil pans work well for this purpose, if you don't have four regular cake pans.)
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside for now.
- In the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until well-mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sour cream, bananas, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and mix everything together. Finally, add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just a few streaks of flour remain. Finish mixing the batter by hand, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl very well.
- Divide the batter evenly between the four pans. If you want to weight them out, it's approximately 17 ounces of batter per pan. Bake the cakes at 350 F for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 20 minutes before flipping them out of their pans and letting them cool completely.
To Make the Cinnamon-Sour Cream Ganache:
- Place the chopped white chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent scorching. Stir until the white chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
- Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon to the white chocolate, and whisk well. The ganache will be on the thinner side at first, but as it cools, it will thicken nicely. Whisk occasionally as it cools to room temperature. To speed the process, you can press a layer of cling wrap on top and refrigerate it. If you make it in advance and keep it in the refrigerator, you'll need to reheat it in short bursts in the microwave until it has an easily spreadable consistency, like peanut butter.
To Assemble and Make the Meringue:
- Place a cake layer on a cardboard cake round. Place about a third of the white chocolate ganache on top, and spread it in an even layer to the edge of the cake. Place a second cake layer on top, and continue to alternate cake layers and ganache until your cake is assembled with 4 layers of cake and 3 layers of ganache. Refrigerate the cake to firm up the ganache while you prepare the meringue topping.
- Combine the egg whites and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer, and whisk them together. Choose a small saucepan that lets you fit the base of the stand mixer snugly into the top of the saucepan—this is your makeshift hot water bath. (Alternately, you can use a different bowl or an actual bain marie and then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl once it’s heated.) Add an inch of water to the bottom of the saucepan, and bring the water to a simmer.
- Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that the bottom isn’t in contact with the water, and heat the egg white mixture. Whisk frequently so that the egg whites don’t cook. Continue to heat the whites until they are hot to the touch, and when you rub a bit between your fingers, you don’t feel any grittiness from the sugar. Once the whites are hot, transfer the mixing bowl to your mixer and fit it with a whisk attachment.
- Beat the whites on medium-high speed until they are a shiny, stiff, voluminous meringue, and are no longer warm to the touch—feel the outside of the bowl, and make sure that it is around room temperature. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix them in.
- Pile a big cloud of meringue on top of the cake, and gently cover the tops and sides with the fluffy meringue. Use a spoon or spatula to create big swoops and swirls in the meringue. Finally, use a kitchen torch to toast the outside of the meringue until it is a golden brown color over the entire cake. The meringue layer on this cake is best the day it is made, but it does have some staying power, so leftovers will be good for several days afterward. For the best taste and texture, serve this cake at room temperature.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
This is absolutely gorgeous!
And I’m a total weirdo about bananas… I ONLY like them when they get all those brown spots. My boyfriend, however, likes them slightly underripe. This means we always have to buy two bunches at a time—one green and one ripe! haha
Oh my gosh, you’re one of THOSE! I’ve heard of your brown-spot banana people, but I didn’t know you really existed. Even the thought of those sweet mushy things… *shudder*
omg. How is it that we both posted banana cakes that are toasted?? Great minds think alike I guess. 🙂 The cinnamon sour cream ganache sounds amazing. Totally unique!
Giselle, that is too funny! Great minds indeed…down to the shot of the naked cake with meringue on top! Love the way your brain works. 🙂
My kids and I are ALL banana prima donnas, and it totally works, because we are also like a bunch of Banana Bubba Gumps. We love sooo many banana things, that we can probably never go wrong: banana muffins, banana pancakes, banana breads, banana smoothies, chocolate banana brownie muffins (YES! recipe coming soon), caramel banana cake, bananas foster layer cake, banana sheet cake with cream cheese frosting, roasted bananas. . . . on and on, and on and on. I get you. We’re BPDBFL. (Banana Prima Donna Besties For Life).
Oh! And PS – I’m adding this one to the list. I can just see their big saucer eyes bugging out of their heads as I torch the frosting!
I laughed out loud at both Banana Bubba Gumps AND BPDBFL! Oh banana bestie, you totally get me. Mwa!
I must be really weird because I seek out the yucky brown bananas on purpose! I’m so impatient I can’t wait for the green to turn to yellow then brown (and I’m not organised enough to have a banana ‘roster’!).
Oh nooooo I cannot hang with that! Brown bananas are for baking only…and even then I don’t like them smelling up my kitchen. 🙂
This cake is gorgeous! The meringue topping looks fantastic!
Thank you, Medeja!
Bananas are serious business. They call for prima donnas, I mean, really now, there are some bananas for baking, some for smoothies, and some for eating! The banana hierarchy should be taught in schools. Served up with this cake because I cannot think of a more perfect recipe to showcase bananas. Ohhhhhhh my lanta, Elizabeth, that meringue topping is so darn pretty! And creative to boot. The motherload of banana cakes right here! 🙂
I’m so glad that you understand! And I would totally have aced Bananas 101 in school. 🙂 Thanks Mary Frances!
Oh my gosh that looks amazing! The white chocolate ganache sounds incredible, the perfect pairing for banana cake. 🙂
Also I’m with you on the banana conspiracy. You never know with corporations these days. Down with Big Banana!
Yes! I’ll get the shirts printed up if you paint the protest signs. Down with Big Banana!
I’m with you! I like them just barely on the green side, and sometimes a lady just doesn’t timely remember to peel, chop, and freeze. Considering all the crazy genetically modified food we have, HOWWWW COME there isn’t a variety of banana that ripens with a domino effect? 1 perfect banana for every day of the week: would that be amazing or what?
Rant aside, this looks like a seriously perfect cake! Love those perfect slices of generously frosted layers.
That is the BEST idea I have ever heard! Not even joking. Where do you think I should send my strongly-worded letter?
I need to find myself a blow torch so I can make this!
I bought a big one at Home Depot! Cheaper in the long run because it lasts forever!
Fora person who claims to not that much into sweets, I cannot stop drooling over all your recipes and photographs! You sure know how to make anybody a sweet-tooth! 🙂
Wait, what? I know what the words “not into sweets” mean individually, but I’m not sure what they mean together… 😉 Seriously, though, thank you! It means even more to have converted a savory person. 🙂
I love how you turned overripe bananas into a reason for making a beautiful 4 layer cake. Also, cinnamon sour cream ganache? Must try this now!
Thanks Natasha! I know you will do something crazy awesome with it!
You are so right, Elizabeth. I am glad to know I am not the only one who waits for the perfect window to enjoy a banana, ha! Plus, thanks for giving me another great recipe to use up my ripe bananas. There’s nothing better than a good banana cake – I love how moist and naturally sweet they taste. And the meringue? Simply to die for!!!
Thanks Kathi! So good to know that there is a community of us banana prima donnas. 🙂
Wow! This cake is seriously gorgeous! Pinned!
Thanks for the Pinterest love, Kristi!
Consequently tasty! That appears to be impressive.
That ALWAYS ALWAYS happens with me! All of those bananas will ripen in one day and then my mum keeps pestering me to eat it all! I mean, seriously, how many bananas can a human eat in one day! -_- I’m LOVING this cake!!!!!!! I hear you on the meringue part!!!!! Especially that sweet smell that fills your nose when you torch the meringue! Ahhhh that is just WOW!!!!! I just HAVE TO pin this beauty! <3
I think the answer is two: I can eat two bananas in one day before being totally sick of them. 🙂 Tell your mom you’ll be making a banana cake with the rest of the ripe bananas!
I always say this but I just love banana desserts. You make the best banana desserts. Did you ever think of doing this for a living? Ha ha ha! I love all the layers and the sexy meringueness. Also, it’s possible I don’t know how to use the Internet, but could you please check the link for the brûlée torch? It just reloads the post for me, and I’d really like to add whichever one you recommend to my Amazon wish list. Thanks dear!
So sorry about that, Meggan! Total link fail. This is my favorite of the culinary torches I’ve tried:
Thanks for letting me know!
Thank you! I have a few other products you’ve recommended on my radar because I simply don’t feel qualified to select a candy mold or whatever. 🙂 Thank you as always for your unwavering expertise!
oh my goodness. . that ganache sounds amazing!! and love the torched meringue exterior. Amazing. I want to be a banana prima donna too. 🙂
Yes! Join us in our fussy, picky, but oh-so-delicious ways!
Has anyone tried this recipe with a different fruit? Maybe applesauce?
I love the uniqueness of this cake but my boyfriend hates banana anything. I’d have to eat the whole thing myself! …might not be too bad on second thought
Hi Lauren, I haven’t personally tried it with applesauce and can’t say how well it might work, but I hope someone else will weigh in if they have! And if you do give it a try, please let us know how it goes!
Hi, Elizabeth. I know it’s been awhile since you first posted this but I have a question about the meringue. I see there’s no cream of tartar in the recipe for it, so it’s not a necessity for stability? If I add some, would it make a difference?
Hi Myra, cream of tartar is not a necessity, but it is a nice insurance policy! So you can definitely add 1/4 tsp cream of tartar to the whites if you’d like to–there’s no downside at all.
Love the idea of this cake and looking to make it for my 50th. Is there something I can use instead of cinnamon in the ganache. My partner hates cinnamon in anything.
Hi Deborah! You can definitely leave the cinnamon out! I think vanilla bean would be a great addition (through vanilla bean paste or vanilla bean powder) but if you have another flavor you love, you could add a bit of extract to the ganache–almond extract might pair nicely with banana. 🙂