But I'm back and feel completely refreshed despite a too-quick cross-country trip. Sometimes I think you just need a change of scenery - and the beautiful wineries and Arabian horse farms that surrounded us did the trick to get me out of my city funk. Unfortunately the gorgeous weather didn't follow me back to NYC - I'm sitting in my apartment right now with a scarf on! But something that did follow me back: a craving for comfort food. The hankering settled in after a post-race bingefest at La Super Rica in Santa Barbara (easily the best most authentic Mexican food ever, thanks for the recommendation Kelly!) so I perused Tastespotting and found something that sounded delightful - Banana Poppy Seed Cake! Not as boring as your regular banana bread and with a poppy seed crunch.
I scoured my local grocery for a ripe-enough banana and traded the cake pan for some mini loaves. The recipe made four and I packaged them up in clear cellophane bags for a few lucky friends. I think they were a hit? I got no complaints and my two coworkers scarfed them down in record time so I'm assuming they were good (if the finished product was as tasty as the batter, I'm keeping it on my "re-bake" list)! The citrus glaze gave a nice contrast so give these a go the next time you find a browning banana in your fridge.
Banana Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Glaze
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. poppy seeds
3/4 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 small)
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp. well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
glaze: 1/2 cup powdered sugar, finely grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Center a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 10-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper then flour everything, tapping to remove excess (I just Pam'd the mini-loaf pan).
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a small bowl; add the poppy seeds and set aside. In another small bowl, stir together bananas and buttermilk.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-low speed until creamy and smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down sides of the bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the sugar in a steady stream and continue beating until the mixture is lighter in color and texture, 2-3 minutes. Stop mixer occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl.
With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, mixing after each addition until incorporated. Continue beating until mixture is fluffy and pale, about 2 minutes. On the lowest speed, add the banana-buttermilk mixture until blended. Turn off the mixer and use a rubber spatula to stir in the flour mixture in three additions. With each addition, scrape down sides of the bowl and continue mixing until smooth.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until cake is golden, springs back when gently touched in the center and the sides are beginning to pull away from sides of the pan, about 35-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, cool for 10 minutes, then carefully unmold onto another wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper and let cool completely.
Make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and zest. Gradually add the lemon juice, stirring until the desired consistency. Drizzle the cake with the glaze.