Banana Breakfast Crumb Cake

We've all been there; that bowl of ripe bananas on the counter getting riper by the minute.  You can hear the clock ticking... any moment now those babies are going south; brown and shmushy being their inevitable fate.  But you have a few options available to prevent the ultimate horror of over-ripeness.  Firstly, you could pop them in the fridge which really does slow down the ripening process.  It also turns the skins a very dark brown, but the banana itself will still be good for several days longer.  

Or you might pull out a loaf pan and get some banana bread made pronto, or you could throw em in the blender and make smoothies for everyone, or you could also slice em up and throw em in the freezer to be used at a later date for ice cream or future smoothies.

But then you could maybe do what I did and make yourself an incredibly delicious banana breakfast cake.  There are no bad options in that list of possible banana uses, but this breakfast cake was a revelation... moist, flavorful and just the right amount of crunch with that crumb topping.  Such a lovely way to accompany one's coffee first thing in the morning, and a very happy way to start the day.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for any amount of time know that I'm not much for extended cooking projects first thing in the morning (not that this is all that difficult, but it does require one to be fairly awake and conscious for most of the steps).   You will be happy to hear that I made this the day before and warmed some up for our breakfast.  And it was perfect. Because it's so moist, it keeps very well on the counter overnight (tightly covered) and for several days (or longer) in the fridge.  It doesn't even need to be warmed, but it was ever so good that way.

And, by the way, it's not just the cooking that I resist first thing in the morning, there's also this...

Best to not have to face this before at least 2 cups of coffee, right?  If you're like me and happen to be cooking-averse before 10 a.m., another option might be to mix the cake ingredients and the crumb topping separately the night before, stash them in the fridge and assemble and bake the next morning. Can't think of too many things better than waking up to the aromas of banana cake baking in the oven.  Except possibly the blissfully divine experience of nibbling on a piece of said cake with one's morning coffee.   Here's the recipe...

Banana Breakfast Crumb Cake

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe courtesy of Relish Magazine

As I mentioned in the blog post, this is fairly simple to put together, but you can easily make and bake this the day before.  It keeps beautifully on the counter overnight or in the fridge for longer.  You could also make the cake and topping separately, stash them in the fridge overnight and then assemble and bake the next morning.  However you choose to put this together, you will be well rewarded.

Topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (I used a little more than this)
1/3 cup 2 percent low-fat milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 9-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray.

For topping, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter in a food processor and process until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in walnuts.

For cake, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat butter with a mixer at medium speed about 30 seconds or until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat 3 to 4 minutes or until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla and bananas and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, mixing after each addition only until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle with topping.

Bake about 35 to 45 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (Mine needed about 40 minutes).  Cool in pan on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The cake can be covered tightly and stored on the counter overnight and reheated in a low oven (300-325 degrees) to crisp the topping.  It will also keep for several days (or longer) in the fridge.