Treat Day Week 10 – Banana Cake!

IMG_2342Hello and Happy Friday, Friends!

Ok, Buffalo, NY was a blast – a great dinner with girlfriends, and then met up with the crew from the Bears for some fun in the city.  Game Day was even more fun with another WIN on the books! My brother hooked us up with field passes and the players just looked like they were having a ball dancing to the music that New Era Field was blaring during pre-game warm up.  And then, of course, the game itself was SO GOOD! Oh, and Syracuse, NY (where my friend Lisa just moved to) was such a pretty & quaint town.  So beautiful this time of year with the leaves on the trees in full color. We had so much fun catching up over some delicious wine – and then dinner in the downtown area with more friends. A tour of the Syracuse University campus (where Lisa now works) on Saturday morning, delicious lunch at a bar as we cheered on Syracuse U to a win! Then packed up the car and headed to Buffalo to cheer on the Bears.  Just a great weekend all around! And did you know that Buffalo NY is where Buffalo wings originated?? I did not.  But was sure to order some, and they were great! Chicago does a fantastic job of replicating them too…

Ok, enough about me.  This week, I weaned myself off the cheesecake kick, and decided to send “Best Banana Cake” to Halas Hall (along with the balls & chocolate chip cookies, of course).  My brother said “Great job on the cake…everyone LOVED it!”.  I had sent this to them one time in the past.  I remember I sent this cake without a test run that season, and was a little nervous as to how it would go over, but it got rave reviews, according to my brother.  I actually have two great recipes for Banana Cake… one has a browned butter frosting which is more of a glaze.  Very good, but I particularly love this cake because it comes with a very thick & creamy cream cheese frosting…just like you’d see on a carrot cake or red velvet cake.  It’s delicious, and the blogger that I found it on calls it “Best Banana Cake”, and I think that title is pretty true.  It’s made with buttermilk, and I think that helps make this cake super moist. It’s also a very dense cake, bordering a banana bread. At any rate, this recipe is worth the effort! Even people who are a little weird about anything banana flavored, tend to enjoy this cake, because I think the frosting off-sets any issues you might have with bananas.  I don’t know… I love bananas and cream cheese frosting, so I am biased.

So, here are the only tips I have for you on this cake:

  1. If you are like me, and don’t think far enough in advance to have already purchased bananas and let them sit for days to brown them for baking, then here is a wonderful trick I learned from the old google machine: Take unripened or yellow bananas and place them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 300 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. They will turn black. They tend to ooze too, so I always line my baking sheet with parchment. But you will have perfectly ripened bananas in a matter of minutes. Just be careful when you take them out of the peel because they will be hot!
  2. The recipe says add an extra 1/4 cup of powdered sugar for a stiffer frosting.  I do this.  I like the frosting thick and sweet, and a more firm frosting makes for a nicer cut and less mess… and I love a sweeter cream cheese frosting.
  3. And the only product that I am particular about in this recipe is the cream cheese.  I always use Philadelphia full fat cream cheese!  Never ever do I deviate from that brand.  Ever. 🙂
  4. Oh, and I use salted butter no matter what the recipe says.  Salted. Never ever do I buy unsalted.

Ok, here is the recipe from a really good blogger – Sally’s Baking Addiction :Best Banana Cake

I hope you try this recipe and that you enjoy it! If you have any questions or comments please feel free to reach out to me!

Thank you so much for reading my blog…and GO BEARS!!!!

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Sarah

2018 will mark my 7th Season making treats and baking for the Chicago Bears. You might be thinking, how does one land that gig? Well, let me tell you. It’s riveting… My younger brother, Danny, works full-time for the Bears. Our entire family have been life-long Bears fans, btw. Back in the summer of 2012, he came to me and said, “Hey, we need someone to make treats for the team. Do you think you can do it? Because my boss said, Dan, you’ve got all those sisters, can’t one of them bake? So, I volunteered you.” My first response was, “YES, but I don’t know how to bake”. I mean, up until that point, the only things I remember ever baking were 1) S’mores Bars back in the 80’s off a recipe on the back of the Golden Grahams cereal box. Come to think of it now, I don’t even think those things went into the oven – so technically that wasn’t baking. And 2) Good old Nestle Toll House cookies – which NEVER turned out the same each time I baked them and it drove me nuts and got me to HATE baking for that very reason. I was always in love with cooking, though. I was the gal who threw dinner parties often and provided an obnoxious array of hors d’oeuvres and wine – that’s more my thing. Side note: I learned the hard way that baking and wine don’t mix. Ha! However, I was honored and excited to have been asked to step up to the plate for this little baking / treat-making gig, for THE CHICAGO BEARS, no less. So my answer was an enthusiastic, YES! I figured I still had a month before the first regular season game, which is when the “treat days” begin – every Thursday during the regular season (not preseason). So, I hit the streets in search of good recipes and then got to work test-baking in the kitchen for the rest of that summer. As I became more internet savvy, I started following lots of baking bloggers and watching video tutorials. I would go to parties and if I tasted something that I thought was exceptional, I would never hesitate to ask for the recipe. Baking for the Bears is always in the back of my mind when eating desserts. I now have an arsenal of treat recipes worthy of offering at a bake shop, if I do say so myself;) . I started getting requests for my pound cake, outside of Baking for the Bears, and my Double Chocolate Chip Sea Salt cookies have been quoted as “The best cookies in the world” by a well-known player, as well as friends, family and neighbors. One of the first things I did was perfect a cookie of my own that comes out pretty consistently crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside. I no longer rely on the old Toll-House recipe. It’s the one thing I never get tired of baking. The guys get them every week. With that said, this season, I plan to blog my recipes each week, and share with you whatever it is I am making for the Bears. I’ll also give you tried & true feedback on what worked, what didn’t, and any fun comments that the players, staff, friends & co-workers might have regarding the treat of the week. My office colleagues love it when football season rolls around, because I typically find new recipes and test-bake on Sundays to bring in on Mondays for critical reviews. From there, I decide if they are Bear-worthy for Thursday Treat Days at Halas Hall. I hope you will check in periodically and enjoy my blog. I’m super excited for the 2018 Bears football season both on the field and in the kitchen! GO BEARS! This is gonna be a good season… I can feel it!

3 thoughts on “Treat Day Week 10 – Banana Cake!

  1. Are you going to give the balls recipe and the chocolate chip cookie recipe? Loved the raspberry bars! The cheesecakes have also been excellent. You are awesome. Thanks for sharing. Carol

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    1. Hi Carol! Thank you so much and I am so happy you have enjoyed some of these recipes!! I am still holding on to the ball recipe and the cookie recipe because I am making them at the Gateway to Learning Kitchen and the participants in that program will be selling them at their cafe, which is called “Dorothy’s Can-Do Cafe”. Gateway to Learning is an organization that helps adults with Down’s Syndrome and Autism to become more independent, and it specifically focuses on culinary skills. So, they have been wonderful to me in allowing me to use their kitchens, so for the holidays, I thought, why not give them a chance to sell them, in hopes to help out just a little. I may share the recipes after the holidays. But in the meantime, they will be available at Dorothy’s Can-Do Cafe located in Lincoln Square in Chicago. It is really cute and they have a variety of over 30 other cookies that are made on site by the adults… so it is really a wonderful thing!! Thank you so much and I’ll keep you posted 🙂

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