Banana Caramel Drip Cake

Anyone else CHRONICALLY end up with overripe bananas? 

Or am I just a chronic food over-buyer? Bit of both? 😉

Every time I have too-ripe-to-eat bananas I usually just end up making banana bread – it’s easy, delicious, and always disappears FAST!

This time I ALSO had some leftover caramels from a different dessert, and decided to put a different spin on it! The first time I made this cake I took  maybe 3 pictures and no video – but it got so much attention on Instagram I decided it was time for a re-do and recipe post! See below, and happy baking!

Banana cake: (3 8-inch cake layers) 
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, melted
6 medium bananas, mashed (best when they’re overripe!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Instructions: 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8 inch round pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.

Beat eggs until light and frothy; stir in sugar and melted butter. Beat well. Blend in mashed bananas and vanilla extract.
In another bowl, measure and mix remaining ingredients. Stir wet and dry ingredients together until just combined.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

I often trim the caramelized edges from my cake layers when I want to make sure the cake edges don’t show, but since you’re using a semi-naked style for this one, I highly recommend leaving the edges on!

(Word to the wise - DON'T try to get all fancy adding caramel sauce to your cake batter! I tried this ONCE with another recipe and ended up with three cake layers that dissolved into crumbs when I tried to remove them from the pans. Yeahhh. Failsauce.)

While you’re waiting for your cakes to cool – make your frosting and caramel sauce!

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:  
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined.

Caramel sauce can be purchased at any grocery store, but if you're up for an adventure and want to make your own - AverieCooks.com is the home of my favorite of all the recipes I've tried so far! No caramel recipe is fool-proof, but this one gave me the least trouble with burning and crystalizing.  

AverieCooks 'The Best and Easiest Homemade Caramel Sauce' 

- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon light-colored corn syrup (can be omitted but helps reduce crystallization)
- 1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, optional (or substitute with bourbon, rum, Grand Marnier, or a favorite liqueur)
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste (for a true ‘salted caramel’ sauce, I use 1 teaspoon)

  • Tie up your hair, put your phone down, get small children out of the kitchen. Have all the ingredients in place including hot mitts and a glass jar or heat-safe container nearby. You’re working with boiling sugar and your full attention on the recipe is necessary.
  • In a medium to large saucepan (use a pan much larger than you think you’ll need because the sauce will bubble very vigorously at the end), add the sugar, water, corn syrup and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking until sugar has dissolved.
  • Allow the mixture to boil for 5 to 12 minutes, or as necessary, for it to turn caramel-colored, at which point it will likely be smoking slightly. The final stage where the mixture turns from pale amber to that perfect shade of caramel can go quickly, in less than 30 seconds, so keep a watchful eye and don’t let it burn. Super stinky and you’ll have to start over. Throughout the boiling time, you can swirl the pan gently every minute or two if necessary, but the less the sugary mixture gets on the sides of the pan, the better in preventing crystallization in the final sauce.
  • As soon as the sauce has turned caramel-colored, reduce the heat to low.
  • Very carefully and slowly, add the cream. The mix will bubble and steam, so stand back a bit and stir carefully.
  • Optionally, and very carefully, add the vanilla and salt, to taste. Stand back because mixture will bubble up again.
  • Whisk until sauce is smooth and combined, and let it boil another 1 minute, which helps thicken it up. - Transfer sauce to glass jar or heat-safe container (easiest to pour into a 2-cup measuring cup and then easily pour into glass jar). Allow sauce to cool uncovered to room temperature; sauce thickens considerably as it cools. 

Filling:
This step is optional, but I made a mix of ½ cup caramel and ½ cup of frosting for my cake filling for a bit of extra caramel kick between the banana cake layers. You’re also adding caramel drizzle though, so it’s up to you!

Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- Large piping bag & large tip – I use this set of bags and tips
- 2 small bananas (not overripe), sliced thinly
- 7-8 caramel squares (for decorating)
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! 

Assembly:
Place a smear of frosting or caramel on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Pipe a small frosting dam if using caramel filling, otherwise spread the layer with frosting.
Spread sliced bananas over the filling, add a drizzle of caramel over the cake layer, and center the next cake layer on top. Repeat the process once more, and add your last layer on top!  

Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like - a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add a thin second layer of frosting and smooth with a bench scraper – you’re really not looking for much more thickness for a semi-naked style, you’re just looking to fill in any holes and get the frosting between the cake layers smooth. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.

Okaaaay – now it’s time for the caramel drip!
I put my caramel into a piping bag for this part, but I’ve seen people use squeeze-bottle  for this also. Make sure your cake is chilled - I think I probably left mine in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, and I've heard putting your cake in the freezer for 10-20 minutes is a good way to get drips to set. I warmed my caramel just slightly (about 5 seconds in the microwave) to thin it so it would pipe a bit more easily. Slowly pipe the caramel around the upper edge of the cake, pausing every inch or so to let more caramel fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Return cake to the fridge to set the drips.

Pipe several large swirls of frosting around the top of your cake – I alternated about 7 large swirls with smaller ones in between. Place a caramel square on top of each of the larger swirls – and you’re done! Refrigerate until ready to serve! (Of note, the caramel drip doesn’t set as well as a ganache or candy melt drip. I recommend decorating this one the day of serving, and not storing it in the fridge overnight unless you’re okay with most of the drips running all the way to the base of the cake. Just a heads up!)

Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went - or find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!

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