If you're feeding a crowd or don't want to assemble and frost a layer cake (or both), sheet cakes are the answer. Pour a simple batter into a 9-by-13-inch pan, whip up a frosting as it bakes, then slather it on and slice it into squares.
But just because they're easy doesn't mean you can't have fun with the flavors. Instead of limiting myself to vanilla or chocolate, I took a look around my kitchen, saw the bunch of ripe, spotted bananas on my counter, and I was immediately inspired to make a moist, chocolate-y banana cake with a salted peanut butter frosting. The results were just as delicious as I had anticipated.
The secret to better banana cake? More bananas
A former boss of mine once told me that the best indicator for a good banana bread recipe was how many bananas it called for: the more bananas, the better the bread. That rule stuck with me (and certainly applies to all banana baked goods), so this cake packs in a full two cups of mashed bananas, from about four to five ripe bananas. The fruit packs in real banana flavor, adds a natural sweetness, and makes the cake incredibly moist.
I knew I needed a fluffy frosting that would complement this banana-forward cake and not overpower it, so I opted for a cream cheese peanut butter frosting. Peanut butter is a natural pairing for banana, and the addition of tangy cream cheese (and flaky sea salt!) keeps the frosting from tasting too sweet.
Bring this to a book club, serve it at a birthday party, or enjoy it with the family as an afternoon snacking cake. If you're serving someone with a peanut allergy, use sunflower seed butter in place of peanut butter in the frosting.
Chocolate Banana Cake
Makes 1 (9-by-13-inch) sheet cake
For the cake:
Butter or cooking spray, for coating the pan
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups mashed bananas (from 4 to 5 large bananas)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
6 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate (1 cup)
For the frosting:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 325 F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over two long sides. Coat the paper and pan lightly with butter or cooking spray.
2. Place the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one at a time. Continue to beat until the batter is silky and lightened. Add the bananas and vanilla, and beat until creamy and fully combined.
3. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and milk in alternating additions until just combined. Fold in the chopped chocolate by hand with a rubber spatula. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
4. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Meanwhile, make the frosting.
5. Wipe out the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the peanut butter, cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and lightened in color, about 3 minutes. Spread over the cooled cake in swoops. Sprinkle with flaky salt, and cut into 24 pieces to serve.
Recipe notes: Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to three days.
This article is written by Grace Elkus from The Kitchn and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.