This mini cake stemmed from my grandson asking me the question “what is a sponge?” and simultaneously making sure I knew that caramel and bananas were his favorite flavors!
So that set me on the task to figure out how to put all three together in one dessert that I could also serve for afternoon tea.
This time, I was also looking for a few shortcuts to make it just a little quicker and easier to pull together. One of my go-to food bloggers is Sue at The View from Great Island, and she just so happens to have a Classic Victoria Sponge recipe that uses a yellow cake mix – so I decided to give that a try. And I gotta say – as much as love an English Victoria Sponge from scratch, this one is really, really nice!
I surfed around for Bananas Foster recipes, as well as a good caramel frosting, and landed on ones from Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond (at Food Network) and Fiona Dowling at Just so Tasty, respectively (with tweaks, of course!).
Starting with the cake – I mean, there’s only 5 ingredients! To get this quality of cake with this starting point, seems like a great place to start to me.
The other shortcut I took was not making my own caramel, or banana chips (decor only). I had some premade Dulce de leche in my pantry, which worked perfectly for this recipe.
Of course, there’s still time needed to futz to make these mini cakes into three layers – cake on the bottom, caramel frosting around the outside, bananas foster in the middle, repeat one more time before topping with the third cake layer, more caramel frosting, powder sugar sifted over half, topped with banana chip and a drizzle of caramel…. Just to make it fancy enough for afternoon tea!
I tried one other thing that I wouldn’t bother with next time – that is added some of my Chai spice mix into half of the batter. However, by the time you add the filling and frosting, you can hardly pick out the spices in the layers. So it just doesn’t make sense to add that – stick to vanilla in the cake and you’re good to go with the other complementary flavors in the frosting and filling.
Also, I made these as 3-inch mini cakes with the Baker’s Pride 3×1.75-inch, 12-cup dessert pan with loose bases. I LOVE having loose bases in just about any of my cake pans to make it easy to get my cakes out.
Finally, a recommendation – make sure the cake and bananas foster filling are cooled before assembling the cakes. The bananas foster has a tendency to really soak into the cake, esp. if it’s still warm. That being said, I kind of didn’t mind that there was this nice cake-y, banana-y, caramel-y filling in the middle of the cake! It was pretty darn luscious.
Vanilla Sponge Mini-Cakes with Banana and Caramel
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 c. vegetable oil
- 1 c. buttermilk
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or extract
- 1 box 2-layer yellow cake mix (I used Duncan)
- 1 stick salted butter
- 1 c. packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 2 bananas
- 1/2 c. chopped, toasted pecans
- 1 c. unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 c. caramel + extra to drizzle over the top (you can use store bought caramel or Dulce de leche
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 – 2 c. powdered sugar + extra for garnish
- 1-2 Tbsp. cream or milk
- Banana chip for garnish
DirectionsPreheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit (325° if you have a dark coated pan). Lightly spray your 12-cup, 3-inch mini-cake non-stick pan (I used one from Baker’s Pride), and line with parchment paper.
To make the cakes, whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl, then blend in the oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Then whisk in the cake mix until everything is integrated and there are no large lumps (small lumps are fine). Put the batter into the cake forms, bake for 18-23 mins (check after 18), or until a toothpick comes out dry. Let the cakes cool for 15 mins. on a rack, then turn them out of their forms and let them cool completely.
To make the filling, melt the butter in a pan on the stove on medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar and stir together to cook for 1-2 mins. Add the cream and stir to combine. Peel and slice the bananas, cutting them into quarters (given the size of the cakes). Add them into the pan, and add the chopped nuts, stirring everything together. Let cool.
To make the frosting, in a large bowl beat the butter until smooth. Beat in 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce, vanilla and salt. Beat in 1 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, with mixer on slow speed. Add more of the powdered sugar if needed for a thicker frosting. If your frosting seems to thick, beat in a little of the cream at a time until it has a pipeable consistency. Fill a piping bag with a large round tip. Recommend leaving the frosting out until you assemble the cakes; only put in the fridge after the cakes are assembled.
To assemble the cakes, slice each cake twice, so you have three layers. Starting with the first layer, pipe one row of frosting around the outside of the cake, making sure there are no holes where the filling can drip out. Spoon some of the filling in the middle. Add the second layer of cake and repeat the steps. Add the third cake layer on top.
To finish the top, spread a thin layer of the caramel frosting around the top. Then, holding a piece of paper over half of the cake, sift powdered sugar over the other half. Pipe a row of round dots across the middle, where the powdered sugar and caramel meet. Make the middle dot slightly larger, and garnish with a banana chip. Finally, drizzle a little of the caramel across the top using a small piping bag. You may put the cakes in the fridge for a little, for the frosting to set up before serving.
So I think my grandson might have something here with this combination of flavors – and he seemed to think so too, as these cakes were heartily consumed by the family at family dinner! Taking these shortcuts does mean you can focus more on how you want to finish them, which is one of my favorite parts.
I think a nice lighter black tea like a Darjeeling works well with these. They are rather sweet (unless you go for more of a salted caramel bent), but still light and airy.