Not surprisingly, since we’re complete opposites, Dearly Beloved and I have different thoughts about when bananas are ripe for eating. He prefers them more the color of a Granny Smith apple than the golden hue I prefer. Once a brown spot appears on the peel, DB shuns it.
Luckily, he doesn’t apply the same hard-nosed attitude toward wives or I’d be a goner.
He’s a banana-a-day man and also a Low-Sodium V-8, two slices of toast with honey, and coffee with light cream man. DB isn’t big on variety, which may be the reason he doesn’t apply the banana standard to me.
But I digress. This is about the cake.
The kids and grandkids come to the beach-house-not-on-the-beach every July 4 week, so we arrive early to get things ready. Since the fruit bowl had an abundance of freckled bananas, I decided to make a banana cake to get rid of the accumulation and have a dessert ready for the first night everyone was here.
While I used to make cakes weekly when the kids were young, Old Batter Butt here rarely makes cakes even for birthdays any more and certainly not at the beach, where the equipment consists of a hand mixer that sometimes rejects one of the blades. If there are any cake pans here, they’ve been pushed to the back of a cabinet. They may have even been relegated to the garage.
I scrounged up a Pyrex dish of “you’ll do” size and was immediately beset with a problem. The recipe called for a baking temperature of 275 degrees. Backing off 25 degrees because I was using glass felt wrong when it was already so low, but then again….
I settled on 260, compromising with myself.
The cake batter hovered just beneath the Pyrex dish rim even though I was sure it was larger than the 9×12 pan the recipe recommended. I thought I should shorten the baking time, but since I’d forgotten to set the timer until the cake had been baking for at least half a Daily Show rerun, I made a wild guess as to how much longer it had.
The grandsons and their parents were going to the July 4th games at the park and when little Elmo asked me to go along so that I could watch him zoom on the plastic slide, I forgot all about the cake and jumped in the car. Dearly Beloved stayed behind to wait for the cable repairman. He was unaware there was a cake.
I was standing at the base of the slide watching Elmo when I remembered the cake. I hurriedly called DB, who told me the timer had already buzzed, so he’d cut off the oven.
“Does the cake look done?”
“Not really, so I left it in the oven.”
I pictured a dehydrated banana pone.
“NO! Turn the oven back on if it isn’t done. You can tell when a cake looks done, right?”
“Not a clue.”
I might have told him the top should look like a ripe banana, but by his standards, he’d turn blue, waiting for it to turn green
“I’ll be right home.”
When I returned and checked on the cake, he had indeed turned the oven back on per instructions, but the temperature had risen to the default 350 degree-temperature. The cake was now a sickly grey soufflé. I turned the oven back down to 275 and waited. And waited.
That sucker took longer than a fruitcake to reach anything resembling a golden tinge and even then the middle looked a bit hinky. I was supposed to then freeze it for 45 minutes and since I hadn’t read the recipe in advance, I had to clear out some freezer space in a hurry.
I tossed the popsicles that had a Best by date of 2006 and two strange turkey legs that I swear I’d never seen before, several bags containing two flattened hot dog buns, and some other items which may have been holdovers from the previous century.
When I removed the cake from the freezer, I halved and frosted it as a layer cake so it wouldn’t take up as much space. The resulting dessert must be eight inches tall and I can’t even guess how much that sucker weighs. The cream cheese frosting disguises the anemic color, but I topped that with toasted pecans just to make sure there were no naked spots.
Good Egg Son and D-I-L had arrived while the cake was into its second hour of baking. They came bearing goodies, including some bananas they hadn’t wanted to leave at home to rot. Thus, even though I’d used several for the cake, the fruit bowl was once again full of bananas in varying stages of ripeness and decline.
That first evening, Good Egg Son pronounced my banana cake one of the best cakes he’d ever tasted. The rest of the crowd loved it, too. Dearly Beloved was so pleased with it that he referred to its preparation as a team effort.
The thing is, the cake is so dense and Dagwoody, slices must be small. Perhaps it regenerates at night. At any rate, the family really needs to eat faster.
Tonight looks like banana cream pie.
“On a traffic light green means go and yellow means yield, but on a banana it’s just the opposite. Green means hold on, yellow means go ahead, and red means where the hell did you get that banana at…” – Mitch Hedberg
“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana” – Groucho Marx