The cake also does double duty for my Banana Bread Fest series, my fourth banana bread recipe. Technically though, it’s not really banana bread.
It’s definitely more cake-like than bread-like, lighter and with a more delicate crumb and an airier texture than banana bread. However, the banana, in addition to the yogurt incorporated into the cake batter, really helps to keep it moist, soft, and tender.
The cake’s favor leans much more toward apple than banana, and the spices I used including cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and cloves accentuate and complement the flavor of the apples.
If you don’t keep all of those spices on hand, don’t worry about it and use what you do have.
I mixed up the batter by hand with a whisk, in one big bowl, by melting some butter, adding a little oil, sugar, eggs, yogurt, spices and whisking. After folding in some diced apples, mashed banana, and flour, the batter was ready in no time.
The selling point of this cake is not how easy it is to make or how the bits of apples in each bite are like little fruit surprises with a great chewy texture.
The selling point is the glaze.
I have made hundreds and hundreds of batches of glaze and frosting in my life and this vanilla caramel glaze is my number one favorite frosting or glaze, ever. It even surpasses chocolate-peanut butter buttercream and it’s hard to compete with chocolate + peanut butter + butter, but this glaze is my kryptonite.
If you like caramels, you’ll love it. It’s buttery, caramely, rich, smooth, decadent, sweet, and full of robust vanilla flavor. At room temperature, it stays soft and although it will set up and crystallize a tiny bit over time, it stays satiny and smooth.
Imagine biting into the creamiest, richest, most intense caramel that’s ever passed your lips, then infusing it with cream, sugar and vanilla, and then glazing a cake with it.
That’s what we have here and it makes store-bought jarred caramel sauce look like a pathetic excuse of a brown runny syrup that you’ll never be able to look at in quite the same way.
This recipe makes a generous-sized Bundt cake and since we didn’t need an entire cake just laying around, I sent half the cake with Scott, who was going back to his office after dinner to get some work done. He put out the cake at 9pm and apparently others in the building who were also working late had a case of the midnight munchies because he said that when went back into the breakroom a little after midnight, the entire cake was gone.
I guess they liked it.
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
5 to 6 ounces vanilla or plain yogurt (one standard-sized small container; Greek yogurt is preferred, sour cream may be substituted)
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 large bananas)
1 cup finely diced apples (1 medium apple; I used one unpeeled Gala apple)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
Vanilla Caramel Glaze
Makes about 1 cup glaze, enough to generously glaze the cake
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (half of 1 stick)
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons cream or milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups+ confectioners’ sugar, sifted (must be sifted)
Preheat oven to 350F and spray a 12-cup Bundt cake pan or tube cake pan very well with cooking spray (I usePam For Baking with Flour and it worked so well for me that this cake literally fell out of the pan while I was beginning to inverting it before I was properly set up to catch the cake on a cutting board) or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power. To the melted butter, add canola oil, yogurt, eggs, sugars, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, cloves (all spices should be added to taste and if you don’t have all of them on hand, not a big deal to omit some) and whisk until batter is smooth and silky, about 1 minute of vigorous whisking. Add the bananas, apples, and stir to combine. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix and over-develop the gluten, which would result in a tougher cake. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 39 to 43 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean (or insert a sharp long-blade chef’s knife and it should come out clean). Allow cake to cool in pan for at least 15 minutes before inverting it and removing cake.
While cake is cooling, make the caramel sauce. Optionally, while cake is cooling poke approximately 25 holes in the top surface of the cake with a chopstick or popsicle stick. The holes will allow the glaze to seep into the cake’s interior, creating a delicious caramel-apple flavor; the drawback is that it’s not quite as pretty when sliced, but since you’re not likely going to take pictures of the cake’s interior surfaces, I’d poke the holes.
Vanilla Caramel Glaze
Note: This is a fast moving recipe; have everything in place before you begin.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. To the melted butter, add the brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring nearly continuously. Allow the mixture to boil quite rapidly for 2 minutes, stirring nearly continuously. Remove the pan from the burner, allow it to cool for about 1 minute, and add the cream, taking caution because the mixture could bubble vigorously. Whisk aggressively to incorporate the cream and calm the bubbling.
After the bubbling has subsided, add the vanilla and whisk to combine, using caution because the alcohol in the extract could cause the mixture to bubble up again. Add the confectioners’ sugar one-half cup at a time, until desired sauce consistency is reached (I absolutely recommend using sifted sugar so the glaze is whisks up smooth, silky, and free from lumps). Pour glaze over cake and allow it to set up for a few minutes if desired; or slice and serve immediately. Cake will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature. If there is extra unused glaze, it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month; gently reheat it in the microwave prior to glazing another dessert.