Recipe: Blueberry Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

What do you do with old bananas? Do you throw them in the freezer, to wait for a batch of banana bread? Lately, instead of banana bread, I've been making this banana cake. It's moist and luscious, and it is a very easy dessert for a crowd; it will feed at least 10! And lately, since blueberries are everywhere, I've been adding ripe, juicy blueberries, too.
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This recipe is adapted from my favorite banana cake recipe (you can see it here). It includes one unusual step: a session in the freezer for the freshly-baked cake. Popping a hot cake into the freezer helps it condense into an extremely moist and tender texture. It also helps it cool down fast so you can frost it sooner.

This is not a complicated cake: it all comes together in one bowl, and it uses up leftover bananas. It feeds a lot of people, and it looks pretty too. You can make it without blueberries, of course, but I love their juicy purple bite in this cake. It makes it even more moist.

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Blueberry Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting 9x13-inch cake, serves 10 to 12

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (from about 3 bananas)
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups blueberries, washed and picked over

For the cream cheese icing:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package light cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rum (optional)
3 cups confectioners' sugar
Pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper, with enough paper that paper hangs over the two long sides. Grease lightly with baking spray or butter.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer) cream the butter with the sugars. Blend in the eggs one at a time, and whip until creamy. Add the vanilla and rum, if using, as well as the bananas. Mix until creamy.

Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir the mixture roughly, but do not combine completely. In a large measuring cup, mix the lemon juice with the milk. (Reserve the lemon zest for the icing.) With the mixer running, slowly pour the milk into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix until smooth. Fold in the blueberries. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 75 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. (Start checking after 60 minutes.) When the cake is firm and a tester comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven. Run a knife between the cake and the short edges of the pan to help release the cake. Lift up on the parchment paper to remove the whole cake from the pan, and place the cake, parchment and all, on a cooling rack. Place the rack in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer and let the cake cool completely before icing.

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For the icing: In a large bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese together until very smooth, with no lumps remaining. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon rum, if using. Add the confectioners sugar, reserved lemon zest, and salt and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth. Spread on cooled cake. Garnish with blueberries.
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Related: Recipe: Caramel Banana Cake

(Images: Faith Durand)

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