Serious Eats: Recipes

Banana Cake Big and Small

By the time you read this, I'll be in Paris, where I hope I will have not have discovered that I left half of what I needed in New York. If so, it won't be the first time. For as much as I travel, I'm not a good packer—I'm always stuffing one last thing into a bag—and I'm not terribly organized. I pack at the last minute, which is how I end up taking more of what I don't need and sometimes forgetting that one vital something.

Knowing this about me, my husband wondered why, when nothing was packed and I was still writing to meet a deadline, I decided to make a banana cake. You'd have thought after all these years he'd be able to guess, since the reason is both simple and obvious: I had two over-ripe bananas languishing on the counter! And besides, nothing makes me calmer or happier than baking and a calm, happy me might actually pack better.

Two bananas was just half of what I needed to make my friend Ellen Einstein's terrific banana Bundt cake, so I made just half the recipe and spooned the batter into a dozen muffin cups. (I also threw in some chopped chocolate, just because.)

Yes, yes, of course I considered myself virtuous for having salvaged the bananas so deliciously, but all feelings of virtuousness vanished when I realized how many of those little cakes I'd munched—it's so much easier and, in many ways, so much more fun, to eat baby cakes that you just keep eating them, and eating them. I had thought I'd make them and freeze them, so that my husband and son would have an extra treat while I'm gone, but...

About Ellen: Ellen Einstein and her husband, Dan, are the owners of Sweet 16th, a bakery/cafe in Nashville. They're both very talented bakers and the cafe is a wonderful place—it's as warm and friendly as they are. If you're anywhere near the bakery, stop in and give them a hello from me.

Playing Around: To make this as a Bundt cake, double the ingredients, use a generously buttered 9- to 10-inch (12-cup) Bundt pan, and bake the cake for 65 to 75 minutes, checking it at the 30-minute mark and covering it loosely with a foil tent if it's browning too quickly. Let the cake cool on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding.

About the author: Dorie Greenspan is the author of several books on dessert, most recently Baking: From My Home to Yours. Dorie can also be found at and on the Bon App├ętit website, where she is a special correspondent.

Classic Banana Cake, The Small Version

Adapted from a recipe by Ellen Einstein in Baking From My Home to Yours

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