Jazz Bytes ~ Banana Cake with Penuche Frosting by Lindsay-Jean Hard accompanied by So Many Things by Marian McPartland @ The London House

Courtesy of Creative Commons Pacific Northwest Nature in Seattle
Courtesy of Creative Commons Pacific Northwest Nature in Seattle


It’s May and Mother’s Day is just around the corner.  The foliage and flowers are bursting with color, flavor, sounds that breathes life into all of us.  May is a particularly challenging month because I lost both of my rents ~ Mom on Mother’s Day 2003 and Dad on Memorial Day 1994.  It no longer affects me the way it had, even last year.  The one thing that I have passed through is grieving and anger and if I kept it up, I would disappear.  I have now come to the place where I remember all of the happy and joyous times that replace and fill those areas in my heart that need tending to.  Mom studied piano as a child and shares the same first name as Ms. McPartland.  This particular song evokes all of those tear misted memories.  This is my mindfulness way of staying in the present and savoring the scented notes of our lives.  I selected an awesome not raw banana cake recipe that I am making to add a little sweetness to the melody.  Peace Out!  JBC 😎




Banana Cake with Penuche Frosting

by Lindsay-Jean Hard


Food52 Editors’ Comments: WHO: Lindsay-Jean Hard is a contributing writer and editor at Food52! WHAT: The lightest, purest banana cake you’ll ever meet, dressed up in a caramelly frosting. HOW: Make a simple cake — mix your wet ingredients and dry ingredients, bake in two layers — then frost. WHY WE LOVE IT: We’ve had great banana breads before — but never banana cake. This has a light, airy crumb, one that lends itself well to a layer cake. But the real star here is the frosting; its brown sugar-milkiness shines through, a perfect complement to the banana. We’re now adopting this into our own family canon, too.

The correct name of this frosting as it has been known in my family for at least 4 generations is panocha frosting. Panocha is a spelling variant of penuche that was once popular in Hawaii, and was localized from penuche to panocha. Panocha is also a type of cane sugar and a type of fudge-like candy. I think of this as my grandmother’s recipe, but it’s actually her mother’s or her mother-in-law’s…either way, it was a special cake that she would make for my father’s birthday, as it’s his favorite cake (and mine too). It’s a simple seeming cake (no vanilla?! not a spice to be found?!), but it’s like your favorite banana bread, only lighter and fluffier, and the frosting truly makes this cake. If you’re into presentation, you’ll want to follow my grandmother’s lead and double this recipe, a four-layer cake is much more impressive. I never add the nuts, and I’ve had no problem substituting all-purpose flour. I’ve even been lazy and not separated the eggs, and it has turned out just fine, albeit with a bit denser crumb.

Makes one 2-layer cakeBanana Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 bananas, crushed
  • 1/2 cup sour milk
  • 1 2/3 cup pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  1. Heat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar, then one at a time, mix in the egg yolks, bananas, and sour milk, stirring after each addition until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients (and the nuts if using) to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, and fold into the batter.
  5. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans, divide the batter evenly between the pans, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.

Penuche Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 to 2 cup powdered sugar
  1. In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the milk, raise the heat and cook until the mixture boils. Remove from heat, and let it cool until the mixture is lukewarm.

Gradually stir in the powdered sugar, beating until smooth.

Japanese translation for meaning


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