We share a recipe from “Wild Sugar: Seasonal Sweet Treats Inspired by the Mountain West” by Lindsey Johnson with Chase Reynolds Ewald.
Bourbon Banana Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Buttercream
MAKES 1 (4-LAYER 6-INCH) CAKE; MAKES ABOUT 1 1/2 CUPS BOURBON BUTTERSCOTCH
FOR THE CAKE
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 large, very ripe, bananas, fork-mashed
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup high-quality bourbon whiskey
BOURBON CREAM CHEESE BUTTERCREAM
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (8-ounce) block full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
5 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
Pinch of kosher salt
FOR THE BOURBON BUTTERSCOTCH
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1/2 cup bourbon whiskey
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 4 (6-inch) cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Dust the interior of the pans generously with flour, then tip over to knock out the excess, leaving a thin coating. Set aside.
To make the cake, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
Add the mashed bananas. Mix until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk. Mix for about 20 seconds, scraping down the bowl if needed. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients, followed by the remaining buttermilk, scraping down the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the bourbon. Mix for about 30 seconds until combined. Do not overmix. Pour the batter evenly among the pans.
Bake on the center rack for about 25 to 27 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes before turning over onto a wire rack. Allow them to cool completely before frosting.
To make the buttercream, in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium high speed, cream together the butter and the cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing for about 30 seconds after each addition. Add the bourbon to taste, and salt. Mix until combined. On medium speed, mix for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
To make the butterscotch, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Raise the heat to medium-high and continue stirring for 1 minute. Carefully pour in the heavy cream, bourbon, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir constantly for 8 to 10 minutes until the mixture begins to come together and pulls away from the sides. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste. Pour the butterscotch into a heatproof container and allow it to cool to room temperature.
The butterscotch thickens as it cools. If needed, reheat to bring it back to a pourable consistency.
To assemble the cake, place 1 cooled cake layer, flat side facing down, on a cake plate. Cover the top with a generous layer of bourbon buttercream. Add a spoonful of room temperature (not warm) butterscotch, leaving a 1-inch border around the cake edges. You don’t want the butterscotch leaking out of the sides. Place the second cake layer, flat side facing up, on top of the frosted first layer. Fill the gaps between the cake layers with buttercream. Repeat the steps with the buttercream and butterscotch. Fill the gaps between the cake layers with buttercream. Place the final cake layer, flat side facing up. Cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin coat of buttercream to lock in the crumbs, scraping off the excess for a semi-naked finish. Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes before adding a butterscotch drip. To add a butterscotch drip, reheat the remaining butterscotch in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Stir. Allow the butterscotch to cool slightly, but make sure it’s a pourable consistency. You want it slightly warmer than room temperature. Using a large spoon, pour the butterscotch over the top of the chilled cake, pushing it gently to the edges, allowing it to drip down over the sides.
NOTES: While frosting this cake, I left some of the cake layer exposed. I added dried greenery and edible gold leaf to the sides. My favorite bourbon whiskey is Wyoming Whiskey. Their small-batch bourbon whiskey has warm notes of vanilla, caramel, browned butter, and toffee, which make it a perfect addition to baked goods.
Recipe excerpt from Wild Sugar: Seasonal Sweet Treats Inspired by the Mountain West by Lindsey Johnson with Chase Reynolds Ewald. Photography by Lindey Johnson. Reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith Books.