banana cake with penuche icing

apologies for the dreadful photo. i should wait until i make the cake again and try to take a better picture but i’d rather share it with you now, as it’s a beautiful cake and you should give it a try sooner rather than later. i also want to experiment, using both the cake and icing in different combinations, so again it’s best to share avoid delay.

the banana cake is wonderfully light and fluffy – a very different texture to the banana loaves i am more used to. it also has a lovely pure banana flavour as there are no spices in it. this is not to say that spices are bad – i still love this cinnamon swirl banana loaf which also has a hint of vanilla – just that sometimes it’s nice to keep things simple.

the less simple thing is the icing, but in a good way. i’d never heard of penuche but a quick look before baking told me to expect something similar in flavour to caramel. having made the icing and looked again properly, now i’m writing this up, i see it is actually a bit more complex than that.

penuche is primarily from new england and is a type of sweet (candy), very similar to fudge or tablet, made from butter, brown sugar and milk.  apparently it often has vanilla in (which it doesn’t here) and can also have nuts in to add a bit of texture. i like the idea of walnuts to help mitigate through the tooth-aching sweetness of the penuche.

all of this means that it needs to be used on a cake that isn’t too sweet - i’ve definitely got more bitter cakes in my repertoire, which i’d love to try this with (this dark chocolate cake would be top of my list), but having said that, the banana and caramel flavours work really well and i love this combination - just make sure you are expecting the sweetness that the pairing brings. 

banana cake with penuche icing

300g sugar

115g butter

2 eggs, separated

2 bananas, mashed

120ml sour milk (i used normal milk, soured with lemon juice)

240g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

75g chopped nuts (optional)

heat the oven to 180°c. butter and line two 8-inch cake tins.

cream together the butter and sugar, then one at a time, mix in the egg yolks, bananas, and sour milk, stirring after each addition until combined. in a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. add the dry ingredients (and the nuts if using) to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.

beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, and fold into the batter. divide the batter evenly between the tins, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until ready.

penuche icing

115g butter

60ml milk

200g brown sugar (i used 125g dark muscovado sugar and 75g golden caster sugar)

200-250g icing sugar

in a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar. cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

add the milk, raise the heat and cook until the mixture boils. remove from heat, and let it cool until the mixture is lukewarm. gradually stir in the icing sugar, beating until smooth. use this to ice your cake.